As in fiction so in poetry readings. The consumer wants to trust the the narrator, in this case poet, who is protagonist of her or his reading.
It's not that poet -or narrator- must be entirely honorable a human or kind to the masses. If he or she is either, that becomes clear and adds to the lustre. But drunkenness and sleeping with students are also part of the chemical formulation of a poet's -or narrator's- lustre.
Fine and good but lustre's composition does become questionable, thin and plastery, when a poet stands at the podium and shuffles through her or his work, not just looking for a poem but trying to decide which poem to read next.
Of course I merely have one collection out (have I mentioned that in the last five minutes?), not ten books and twice as many uncollected poems. It's really not so hard for me. For me it takes a few stickies in my book (it's published, by the way) (The Future Is Happy) (go to Small Press Distribution or Amazon) and another eight to ten "new" poems (enough, already, the audience will get the idea). "New work" has at most been published in journals.
Some poets will announce, "this poem was accepted by Farmer's Snotrag Review of Southern Illinois Agricultural and Combine Academy and then wait, as if honoring a line break, for gasps of admiration. But the audience never reacts. I wonder if there'd be a stir for a poem kissed by dewy lips of the New Yorker or Poetry's poetry editors?
My disdain is barely concealed when a poet does that, piles it on a poem. Isn't the poor poem itself worth our time? I fear my disdain means I will any day now do the same. What Sarah Sarai disdains barely she soon does.
So who cares what I have to say about readings?
I do and I'll tell you why: I am reading tomorrow night, Tues., April 27, at Bluestockings Bookstore at 7 p.m. Details below. I must make selections tonight then spend the day at the seashore with pebbles in my mouth, practicing, rehearsing, emoting.
Fat chance. But I am always thrilled anyone wants me to read and am thinking about the saucy audience at this activist bookstore and center. I will make my choices tonight and decide which one or two poems I'll do something extra with--I warbled a poem recently and am pushing myself for more.
The right people and the right number of people always show up at readings. I taught myself that years ago. People are showing up for poetry? What could be wrong with that scenario? Nothing. Nothing at all. Not even a shuffling poet.
Join us: Tuesday, April 27th @ 7p.m.
Women’s / Bi / Trans & co. Poetry Jam & Open Mike (All welcome)
Featuring Sarah Sarai & Adrienne Baldassano
173 Allen Street
$5 or best offer--Vittoria passes a hat
(lower east side, 1 block so. of Houston, btwn. Stanton/Rivington)
train: 1 block south of the F’s 2nd Ave stop; 5 blocks from the JMZ's Essex/Delancey stop
Hosted by Vittoria Repetto, the hardest working guinea butch dyke on the lower east side