Elisa A. Garza is the author of Familia and Frontera, forthcoming in November. She blogs about writing, food and life. To read more, visit her blog Tercets.
I’m fresh from participating in my first virtual reading, which was also organized by Maria for the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum. I really enjoyed being able to share the stage with readers from other parts of Texas as well as two other states; such gatherings are more difficult to arrange in person. Several of us had to arrange for childcare, and one reader arrived late because she was stuck at work, but these arrangements are easier to organize than finding childcare for several days, paying for travel and hotel rooms, and requesting time off work in order to meet in person. I “met” my publisher Maria and two of the poets I will present with at the AWP Conference next year in Chicago, or perhaps I should say my avatar met their avatars! While we will still need to officially meet each other when we arrive in Chicago, I will now be able to recognize their voices.
I’m still adjusting to life inworld; since I don’t play video games or spend time in other on-line communities, this was a new experience for me. The best part was hearing the poets read and having a conversation as a group afterwards; the audio quality was excellent and it felt just like having in a room full of poets in my home office. The hardest part for me was moving around and adjusting the view. I’m not good at walking through the on-line environment, and I often make my avatar bump into things. The second time I was inworld, I got caught in quicksand! The inworld view you see on the computer screen can be adjusted by zooming in or out and changing your angle, but I found it awkward because I couldn’t always look someone in the face when my avatar was speaking to them, or adjust the view so I could see everyone from the computer screen. Maybe I’ll get better at manipulating the view with time.
Maria invited all of us to participate in future events and to design our own events and workshops, so I’ll probably plan something for next summer. Let me know if you have ideas or would like to participate in some kind of free inworld poetry workshop.