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Reading Your Words Out Loud

The act of reading your words out loud, the words you've been gestating in your soul, heart and brain for days, months, years (or even just now, minutes ago, while waiting in line at the post office) is both freeing and scary.

There is intimacy involved in revealing yourself to others, people you know and strangers. You think you are deciding what and how much to share, but in the end, it is the work that is in charge, that has the last word.

One question that came up was, "Why do I fee like I have to read my stuff out loud ?" And this reminded me of when Cathy Hong Park in her book, Minor Feelings, wrote about Richard Pryor's walking off the stage in Las Vegas after asking into the mic (rhetorically) "What the fuck am I doing here?" It was at a point in his life, Hong writes, when he was moving away from the Cosby in his act, and compelled her to ask "Who am I writing for?" But that is not my question. I usually know I am writing, not for a who, but a why. I am writing to not be lost in the wilderness of identity. I am writing to be found. I am writing to impact the landscape of writing as a Korean American poet in the diaspora.

"Why do I fee like I have to read my stuff out loud ?"

What am I trying to prove by getting up in front of people and reading my poems and sometimes prose out loud? I've been at all summer. Putting readings together and getting invited to read. I went to Philly in March for AWP, but honestly I would go to Philly regardless of any conference. I love Philly. The people are great, bars and restaurants are just as nice as NYC. But I digress...

So all these months into the reading series of my life, I see that my urge to read out loud to you is based on my desire connect with you. To share my story in hopes that there is something of value in them that will help you. Just as I have been empowered by my poets, namely (to name a few) Phillip Levine, Louise Bogan, Yusef Komunyakaa, Alice Walker, Bruce Springsteen, Martin Espada, I understand the value of being in fellowship with others, being kindred to each other in a world that takes so much from us. A world that often does not understand our value.

But I see your value and I hope my words express that to you.


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