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.