Waiting 4 the Bus

Waiting 4 the Bus
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"read the fucking poem" A guide to poetry readings

J.J. Jameson (amazing Chicago Poet) used to yell "READ THE FUCKIN' POEM" from his seat in the audience.  It was the most honest thing ever yelled in a cafe/bar/bookstore ever.  The message of that one phrase can be broken down into parts, analyzed, refined and made more palatable, but nothing is ever gonna replace the power of "READ THE FUCKIN' POEM"

poetry etiquette 101

1-Kill the introductions.  There are exceptions to this rule, but we all can't be Will Rogers, Andy Griffith, or Bill Cosby.  Most folks do not have a flair for the amusing anecdote.  Most amusing anecdotes that end in the writing of a poem, are only amusing to the author of the poem. CUT THE INTRO!!!  Poems that need to be explained are, probably,  not very good poems.  A poem should speak for itself.  The audience is filled with writers, just like you, they understand the language of poetry, give them some credit.

2-Name Dropping.  Don't do it.  Don't mention who inspired what, or who your influences are.  No one cares who you carried to get here.  Poets are not stupid and can pick up on who influences your style.  Name dropping just makes you sound like a pretentious git who has no respect for the audience.(Name Dropping also includes listing every journal/magazine/website you have been published in)

3-Stay within your allotted time slot.  Going longer than your spot makes you look greedy and self important.  Your poetry IS NOT more important than the next guy's. and you would have had enough time for your poetry if you followed rule 1 and 2.

4-Plugs.  It is fine to plug an upcoming gig, but keep it short.  Remember plugs come out of your time slot.  If you are gonna plug long and loud, cut your set appropriately.  Sticking to the basics is best.  Place, date, time and end with "If you want more details, talk to me later"

5-Shut your face.  If you are not on stage, you should be quieter than a whisper.  Have respect for the poet on stage.  It is called an Open Mic for a reason.  anyone can participate, and whether you care for what they say or not, have some respect for the speaker.  Someone else may want to hear.

6-Try to stay for the whole show.  I know life is busy and people have "promises to keep and miles to go before they sleep", but ducking out on an open mic makes you look like a jackass.  The "read and run" is the most annoying thing someone can do at any open mic.  If people can stick around to hear you, you can stick around to hear them.