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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on How to Have a Most Excellent Poetry Reading

The problem is, we've been focusing too much on the reading part of the poetry reading.

It's utterly all wrong.

What we need to do is focus on the poetry, which can be widely interpreted. For instance, the poetry fashion show, the interpretive poetry dance party, or the poetry make a spin art.

The old order was: arrive, scramble to find a seat, sit prim and proper reading the program, emit poetry sigh after each poem, go home a little sad because you didn't get to chat with any of your friends.

The new order will be: show up, order a lemon drop, spend 45 minutes gabbing, get rowdy and yell "oooooh hoooo!" after 10-minute reading of ooooh-hooo!-worthy poems, then spend another 45 minutes gabbing, then leave the place feeling fabulous.

The "place" should have dim, dim lightening of a reddish hue. All the pictures taken should be on I-Phones with a sepia-tone setting. Nobody should be allowed to make that damn poetry sigh sound or read more than 2 poems, three max. And mix it up! Have a performance/spoken word poet, a mime poet, a cracked poet, & a high-falutin poet. Nobody will know what's coming up next, and this will make it fun, fun, fun!

Otherwise people are just going to stop attending readings altogether. That's cuz no one has time for hour-or-more readings punctuated by lots of heavy sighing. We are all in a hurry, and we are all dying to see our friends, even if they only live across town. We are sick of Facebook; we want not only the face and the book but the breath and the laugh and the eyes and the hug.

We need speed readings, is what we need. With a disco ball and Lite-Bright.


seana said...

Speed readings. Fantastic. Except I actually first wrote frantastic, which is more to the point.

David Graham said...

I wonder how much of this attitude comes from living in a city where there is a surfeit of readings? In contrast, most of the land is a relative poetry desert. So in a place like, say, Ripon Wisconsin a poet comes to town just once in a blue moon. I want to hear more than 2 or 3 poems, personally, and if we had a speed reading with all local poets the whole thing would be over in 5 minutes.

For open mic events with 10 or more readers, however, a strict time limit strikes me as crucial. If I ran the world I'd mandate that all poets at an open mic must read one poem by another poet to match every one of their own.

Martha Silano said...

Hi David,

A surfeit of readings, indeed, and an even bigger surfeit of poets, but hey, who's complaining? I was joking about the speed reading. Poetry readings are church to me. Mormon church. They could go on for hours and I would only be demanding more communion with the spoken word.