An interesting discussion is taking place on a Bay Area poet's Facebook feed. She posed the issue of featured poets/writers who leave a reading early, as well as poets/writers who leave an open mic early.
First, let's hear from a literary poet, well known in California:
on both ends. features know when the crowd is there because they want
their 3 minutes of glory with the mic, not to listen to the feature. i
usually stay, and like most open mics, might hear 1-3 really good poems,
and a lot of really bad poetry. then
i'll watch them exit with their hands in their pockets because they
sure have no intention of buying a book or copy of my poetry mag. if i'm
lucky, the host might give me 20 bucks for my gas and a trip to
McDonald's. it's a glorious life. and the open-mic crowd wants a pieceof
think it'd very bad form to leave before the end of a reading, if you
are reading yourself in any manner - unless of course circumstance
compels you to leave. In which case, it's very good form to let folks
know that you'll need to while you're at the
mic. I generally assume that in most cases, when someone gets up to
read and then leaves without mentioning that they need to, that they're
only there to hear themself. Which in turn makes me disinterested in
listening to their work in future, no matter what I might think of it.
Another commenter, who names Famous Names:
the 1980s I drove some ways to Cal State Dominguez Hills to hear Robert
Peters and Billy Collins, plus open mic. Pre-Mapquest, GPS, Google
Maps. Found the building on-campus and was delighted by the features.
They stayed for a little bit of the open
mic but not the whole thing. I was sad they didn't get to hear me but
not sorry I'd come. I believe Collins had been flown in for the event,
and I'm sure these giants of poetry had plenty to say to each other.