Monday, October 24, 2016

I don't 'get' poetry readings--

Bethany Prosseda writes, "I don't 'get' poetry readings":

"...I think this generalization points to a shift that has occurred in poetry. It seems that at some point, poetry went underground. It went quietly and without a going away party. It forgot to send Christmas cards. So, it stands to reason that when poetry showed up again at its high school reunion twenty years later, no one recognized it anymore. Poetry spoke a different language, and no one at the reunion knew how to converse with it beyond the small talk anymore. But that’s not to say that poetry didn’t have friends because it did. It had underground friends that understood poetry and spoke its new, underground language.

Photo of Ray McNiece reading at Mahall's
photo by GL
"There’s nothing wrong with the new poetry. It’s just intimidating. This should be understandable. It’s only human to feel intimidated by something you don’t “get.” I wonder though, if that’s the approach that poetry really wants to take. But what do I know about poetry? Not much. All I know is that we’re living in a time of great accessibility. ...

"I’m not advocating for poetry to change. It doesn’t need botox or rhinoplasty. Poetry’s beautiful just the way it is. I guess all I’m trying to say is that, deep down, everyone likes getting invited to the party and being asked if they like Eric Dolphy."

1 comment:

Mrs. Burgess said...

Love Eric Dolphy!! And poetry readings. They demand that we listen carefully, with more than a 15-second attention span though, and that's where some of us get lost. Or we get distracted by something we either don't get or something we think is wonderfully strange and lose the main thread, or any other of the many that go into the weave of a great poem. Or, and this is on the poet, we can't hear her/him well enough to have a clue. I haven't even mentioned texting. Ugh! Not during a reading! Every venue should provide a good mike and speaker system, and poets ideally have our own in case there is nothing at the venue.

Last point, the reader needs to communicate what we don't get from reading on the page--inflection, nuance, excitement, everything to do with voice. Adrienne Rich was tremendous at this, though her poetry on the page is often difficult.

Thank you,


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau