Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tale of an evening that most featured poets have at one time or another.

From an e-mail I sent recently, with certain details redacted [partially to ensure universality of the underlying message of this post]:
[Featured reading at poetry venue] went poorly.... The worst part of the night for me was when one of the regulars came from [nearby reading] where [venue host] read as one of three winners; this regular mentioned that [Famous California Poet] had arranged for the poets to be paid $50 each since poets shouldn't have to read for free. But I read for free at [poetry venue] since no one wanted to buy my $3 chapbook.... I did what I could and the audience mostly didn't react.

Underlying message: We who are blessed to be chosen as poetry features have bad nights as well as good ones.  And my post is not intended as ingratitude--since the venue host and the substitutes that evening were courteous to me by e-mail and in-person; I feel as if I let them down because of the underenthusiasm of most of the audience. 

Analyzing the corpse of the evening: Either I didn't magnetize the room the way a Brendan Constantine or Jaimes Palacio often do, or that the poems I read (outside of an opening poem by Stephen Dunn) weren't considered "good enough" by most of the audience (and unworthy of a $3 souvenir chapbook).

An ironic and rather sad coincidence was what happened to the 10-minute spotlight feature after the break; he's a regular at the venue and offered books for free.

From what I could observe, no one accepted his generosity after the reading ended.

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