some more advice for readers

A little more pointed than the last batch I posted on silaron, clearly written after the authors were traumatized at a particularly awful reading (set of readings? lifetime of readings?):

3) A poetry recital should be a performance. Most poets read their poems in front of an audience as if they were lecturing to a group of college students. This betrays two illusions. The first is that the poetry audience is the same as a classroom of captives. The second is that the audience must indulge the poet, rather than the poet showing sufficient respect for the audience to entertain it.

4) A poem should be recited to an audience before it is ever published. This should be a part of the poet’s method of composition and revision. Our modern practice is exactly the reverse: to publish a book of poems and then read them aloud, generally for the first time, to an audience. Is it any wonder that so many poets are so dreadful?

- The editors of the Contemporary Poetry Review, in a blog post written after attending this year's AWP conference. You can read the whole post here.

p.s. The CPR editors posted a follow-up, further expanding on their "advice", here.

1 comment:

daniela elza said...

I like his suggestion to the performance before the publication? Publishing books is one thing. Participating actively in a poetry community (and that includes reading reading reading to audiences and nurturing the spoken word) is another. They should go hand in hand.

We should spend as much time crafting our readings and performances as we do massaging the poems on the page. Those few minutes before your audience is not about you. It is about what you are willing to give the audience. Isn't that what they are there for? It should be like treating them to one of those figs in heavy sweet syrup. You have one, it lasts you for a long time. You always give them a glass of water with it, of course, to wash it down.
And hope the experience is memorable. So they might want to come back for more.