Image of white doors opening into white room with wood floor and all-cap text of the word "room" in red at the top of the doorway

Appearance Wrap-Up: “Room: A Literary Reading” at Antigone Books

Last Friday, I and two other writers from the Writers Studio Tucson had the singular opportunity to read our fiction and poetry that we wrote in response to a spooky prompt by guest judge Ted McLoof for the third annual “Write-to-Read” contest:

“Three people wake up in a room. They have no idea how they got there. They have no idea how to get out of it. They have no idea how long they’ve been there. But they only have until midnight to get out…”

We read at Antigone Books, a great setting for such events. The staff there was fantastic, including Kate Stern who was very kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. After she and then Writers Studio Tucson Director and instructor Reneé Bibby kicked off the night with opening remarks, Ted McLoof spoke briefly about the contest prompt and the submissions he had selected.

Kay Murrens read “Where We Are Silence,” her poem about a room, the women there telling about their own experiences as women, and waiting for God. The last line was a gorgeous expansive moment about God entering the room after the other women had left.

Jennifer Makowsky read her short story “Room 6016,” a thrilling story about three people in a room who think they recognize each other but cannot recall for sure or how they got there. The details of the room were perfect, the story full of surprises, and there was a moment related to that number in the title that led me to gasp out loud.

I finished the evening by reading my poem “These Are the Animals You May Eat.” I was ridiculously nervous before I started and had to keep pinching the skin between my thumb and index finger to make sure I didn’t faint. My wonderful coworker, Sarah, brought me a cup of water, the kindness of the act helped to calm my nerves a little, and then I stood up to head toward the podium. Once I started reading, I relaxed and got into the horror and voices of my five-part poem. Another coworker, Audrie, filmed the opening minutes of my reading; I have embedded her video above.

I’m grateful to everyone who attended. It was quite the crowd, much larger than I expected. I cannot thank my coworkers enough, or my fellow writers and everyone at the Writers Studio Tucson and Antigone Books. It was a night of nerves, surprises, and appreciation for all the people who surround and support me.

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype and is forthcoming from The Laurel Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.

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