In a review copy of Norman Stock’s new collection, Pickled Dreams Naked (NYQ Books), we came across the first honest poem we’ve ever read about poetry readings. Poetasters, prepare yourselves.
At a Boring Poetry Reading
They read the audience to death.
These poets use live ammunition, their words, to weaken us.
Are they trying to put us to sleep or are they trying to keep themselves up
by droning on and on? Instead of listening, all I’m doing is waiting for them to stop.
The applause will be like glass breaking, the glass they are enclosing us in.
It is as if they tied their shoes in front of us just to show us they could tie their shoes in front of us!
O save me from this scatterbrain orderliness, this posture of beheading.
Will this reading never end? Will I have to listen forever
or can I find a chink in the wall of my own mind that I can crawl into, just to get
away from this disaster, this dying, this voicelessness?
We congratulate Mr. Stock on this brave display of honesty. He has spoken for an entire class of victimized people in America: the audience. He has become the voice for a silent and suffering majority.
The editors of the CPR would like to encourage other poets to come forward, out of the shadows, and man the barricades alongside the heroic Mr. Stock. Please send along your poems on the subject! Please encourage others to write poems on the subject! Please write one if you don’t have one!
We promise to read them, we promise to publish the best ones, we promise to edit an anthology of them all, and we promise to start a movement if we can. We say: down with the poetry reading! We say: topple the lectern! We say: hide the microphone!
Who is with us?
You should read Keith Flynn’s poem, “Listening as Another Famous Man Badly Reads His Poems,” from his collection, The Golden Ratio. Here’s an excerpt:
The glamour of the cold page
makes administrators woozy
with freshly-cut checks
and stunned undergraduates
change their majors to business
law knowing now that Dad was
right all along, and the rhythm
is lost or abandoned and the
canned comments so scripted
that they garner more
interest than the text
which becomes illegible
in the mouth of its master,
a bowhead whale tumbling
behind his massive girth,
in his maw like plankton,
Pulitzer riding on his snout
like a hood ornament
and all six-winged hope
drowned in his throat.
Thank you. I humbly accept your congratulations and your designation of me as the voice of a heretofore neglected but beleaguered group, who are victimized time and time again by having to sit through boring poetry readings. It’s time we stood up. I am with you all the way.
I agree! And this goes double for those poets who write poems way tooooo long.
Endurance test, indeed.