Saturday, August 25, 2012

Passing along another poet's wisdom about hosts and readings.

Here's a Cobalt Poets (available to the public via Yahoogroups) listserve post from veteran SoCal performance poet Bowerbird Intelligentleman, written in 2006.  It's slightly dated since the 2012 scene has shrunk somewhat in terms of venues and featuring opportunities, but worth sharing nonetheless:

i see from an e-mail in my in-box
that venue hosts are being called
"the unsung heroes" of the scene...

yes, hosts do a lot of work, it's true.
and if you've never done it yourself,
you'll likely underestimate, by half,
the amount of hassle that it can be,
constantly dealing with a bunch of
ego-maniacs who want the stage...

but let's look at the other side too...

first, producing gives you a huge boost
in visibility, and perceived "importance",
not to mention stage-time of your own,
and without having to fight anyone for it.

second, the ability to _book_others_
means that you have "a favor to trade",
and the favor-trading is very obvious...

indeed, when deserving poets come to me and
ask how they can get more feature invitations,
i regularly give them two recommendations:
1. just plain ask, and several will follow, and
2. start up your own series and book hosts,
as that's a sure way to get return bookings.

so let's not pretend that hosting is selfless.
it cuts both ways.

how these competing factors "balance"
is up to each one of us to decide, but
i think the fact that there is no shortage
of poetry series -- each with a host --
indicates how most poets weigh it out.

if hosts were really "the unsung heroes",
there wouldn't be so darn many of 'em,
because poets are _not_ very altruistic,
as anyone with experience will tell you.
(and hosts will be the first to verify that.)

no, where we have a clear _shortage_
is with the number of poets who are
willing to come to a show and _listen_,
without a strong ego-need for the stage.
_that_ is how selflessness reveals itself...

so if you're looking for "unsung heroes"
in _this_ scene, look for _those_ people.
(and hey, best of luck on finding any...)

as it is, any events that "host the hosts"
or "honor the poetry series in our scene"
looks like just another mutual back-pat
in the perpetual circle-jerk of our scene
from the perspective of _this_ observer...


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