Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are you on PST (Poet Standard Time)?

Yesterday, I found myself once again running a couple minutes late, which stretched into ten minutes, then fifteen, then a half hour. While in the car pondering my tardiness, I mused to myself that that I used to always be on time (obsessive-compulsively early, in fact) before I became a poet.

The Poet Time Zone seems to be geographically ethereal, but it tends to fall at least half an hour behind any bordering time zone. I've heard emcees around town joke when a feature is running behind that we're all on "poet standard time" or that any legitimate poetry reading has to start at least half an hour late anyway.

Does it then become a self-perpetuating cycle? The poets don't expect the reading to start until half an hour late, and so don't plan to arrive earlier, thereby arriving even later, thereby delaying the reading...and on and on!

So is it poetry that makes us late, or does the character makeup of naturally late people cause them to gravitate towards poetry? Do our free spirits prevent us from being bound by such banal devices of restriction like...clocks? Do our creative natures transcend time and space? Nature vs. nurture?

Or...are we just trying to make excuses for ourselves?

Let me know if you find yourself likewise afflicted.


Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Good morning from Taipei!

michael salinger said...

you know -

Woody Allen said 90% of success is showing up on time.

Now Dr. Phil says people who are chronically late are actually displaying passive aggressive behavior with a tinge of narcissism.

At varying degrees of subconsciousness the forever late person feels that their presence is more important than that of anyone else.

Anyway - that's what Dr. Phil says.

I think a lot of it has to do with whether one has ever had to punch a time clock as well.

Ellie Kings said...

I myself have been tardy on more than one occassion. And I hate it! I heard it said once, that showing up late is a sign of disrespect to the others waiting. I think in everything we do, whether it's poetry or not, showing up on time proves to others that there is no other place you'd like to be. You're honoring them with your timely presence. Just my opinion.

J.E. Stanley said...

PST seems to be ubiquitous. And it doesn't matter whether a reading starts at 7:00 or 8:30 or whenever, it always has to start at least 15 minutes late. So, I'd go with "just trying to make excuses for ourselves." It's a shame, really.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pottygok said...

As a moderator, I've found that PST not only can apply to features, but also to the audience. Sometimes it's the venue, the barista or bartender can only make so many drinks in a certain amount of time, and if the reading starts at 8:00, and everyone gets there at 8:00 and wants a beverage, the reading wont start until 8:15-8:20. Should people make an attempt to be early? Of course, but sometimes life gets in the way.

PST doesn't bother me as much as features who don't show up, features who aren't prepared, audiences who don't support the feature, etc.

Rob said...

I'm with Michael and Ellie. If we want people to respect our art, we need to respect their time. I suppose some people see a casual approach to time as a counterpoint to the "type-A" personality, but we also claim to have a passion for important life issues. People with passion rarely show-up late (unless their passion is really somewhere else!)

Vertigo Xavier said...

It is also considered traditional that rock concerts cannot start less than 40 minutes late. Hell, when I saw Meatloaf 12 years ago, he started 2.5 hours late and didn't have an opener.

The very first Poet's Haven show started late because I was hoping more people would show up. (I mean, I'd distributed over 4000 fliers, I expected more than four people to show up. lol) The second show started on time, but was a Canton First Friday gig. The first show I did in Cleveland (featuring John Burroughs as Jesus Crisis and Mike Marcellino's Split Pea/ce), I was in a panic trying to get it started on time. Steve Goldberg taps me on the shoulder and says something like, "Relax. Cleveland poetry events aren't allowed to start on time."

That said, though, I need to see shows start on time more often, as several of the venues Poet's Haven shows will be at in Cleveland close at 11:00, or even at 10:00. Starting a half-hour late works just fine at Angel Falls, where they're open until midnight, but Blue Arrow Records closes at 10:00, so the show must begin AT 7:00. So I'm going to copy the start-time listing trick the Canton First Friday shows use. "Sign-Up at 7:30. Poetry begins at 8:00." They always start on time. When they list the time on the First Friday fliers or online listings, etc., it's just "7:30." So you'll start to see Poet's Haven shows advertised with "Sign-up at 6:30, show begins at 7:00" or simply "6:30" on next year's fliers.


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