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The Lighter Side: Five Lessons from AWP (Or, Why We Hate Poetry Readings)

Five Lessons from AWP: Or, Why We Hate Poetry Readings

1)      You should recite your poetry, not read it.

2)      If you can’t recite your poetry, then you can’t remember your poetry. And if you can’t remember your poetry, why would anyone else?

3)      A poetry recital should be a performance.  Most poets read their poems in front of an audience as if they were lecturing to a group of college students. This betrays two illusions. The first is that the poetry audience is the same as a classroom of captives. The second is that the audience must indulge the poet, rather than the poet showing sufficient respect for the audience to entertain it.

4)      A poem should be recited to an audience before it is ever published. This should be a part of the poet’s method of composition and revision. Our modern practice is exactly the reverse: to publish a book of poems and then read them aloud, generally for the first time, to an audience. Is it any wonder that so many poets are so dreadful?

5)      Never be boring. (Many poets are boring – their poetry too.)