Follow Harriet on Twitter
Contemporary Poetry Review teaches you to be a better (less boring) poetry reader
The editors of Contemporary Poetry Review (who suspiciously resemble Statler and Waldorf) are not beyond admitting that they can still learn a thing or two at AWP. For instance, they can learn that they hate poetry readings. On their blog, they offer five tips/tricks/criticisms/rants based on the lessons they had to learn the hard way—by attending actual bad poetry readings. The post is prefaced with “the lighter side,” and many of their points are humorous, but there’s quite a bit of earnest advice in just a few lines. The first suggestion is simple enough and lays the groundwork for the rest: Recite your poetry, don’t read it. From there, we go to number two:
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?
Besides offering a better experience for the audience, the editors also point out how much reading the poem aloud and getting feedback does for the poem itself, and how this step has been left out too often.
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?
Oh, and if you were even considering being boring, please don’t. Statler and Waldorf have no patience for boring.