Below are my top five warning signs that a reading might get into trouble.
1. Hair awry — you end up being transfixed throughout the reading by the constant dance between hand, hair lock/s, and head toss.
2. When the poet talks about how little time he/she has, it is a sure sign they will run over. “Just six more,” they say, as if to reassure us.
3. The throat clearing that presages multiple water gulps throughout the reading; exacerbated by water being placed in an inconvenient spot so the poet has to disappear from view (behind lectern) to retrieve it.
4. The unprepared reader — papers all over the place, multiple copies of books toppling off the podium, which leads to a painful running commentary on the progress in finding the next poem, or worse, an awful embarrassed silence during the frantic search for the poem.
5. Poetry voice — why, when it comes to reading poetry aloud, do so many poets adopt a pseudo-religious incantatory voice that actually serves to flatten the meaning into a single-toned chant that numbs the senses and the mind?
- Fiona McCrae, guest blogging at the FSG Blog. Read the whole thing here.