Some Thoughts on Poetry Readings: Part Two (Various - and Occasionally Notorious - Characters Defined)
(I offer the following lexicon in good fun. Your additions are most welcome.)
bartender (bar’-ten-der), n., the only person allowed to make noise while poets are reading at a venue that holds a liquor licence.
ill-prepared reader (ill’-pre-pared’ rea’-der), n., a poet who holds his book of poems at arm’s length, and who frowns at it (often through glasses set low on his nose) as if he hasn’t seen the book in some time, a book through which he flips aimlessly while he tells the audience about the poem he would like to read to them but can’t seem to locate.
MC (M'-C'), n., a person who reads publishers’ blurbs to the audience and who sometimes mispronounces the harder names.
mumbler (mum-’bler), n., a poet who mistakes the lectern for the audience.
over-prepared reader (ov’er-pre-pared’ rea’-der), n., a poet who thumbs through her clearly well-thumbed through book (fringed with an impenetrable system of multicoloured Post-Its) but can’t seem to find the poem she made sure to label with a Post-It the night before, possibly because of all the Post-Its.
perfectionist (per-fec’-tion-ist), n., a poet who flubs the reading of a poem and, bothered by this, insists on backing up and starting over even though no one in the audience noticed the mistake or really cares.
respectful reader (re-spect’-ful rea’-der), n., a poet who leaves her book at home and reads from 81/2 x 11 sheets of paper printed out and ordered the night before.
seasoned pro (sea’-soned pro’), n., a poet who clasps both hands at midsection and recites from memory in a crisp voice, charming everyone.
social outcast (so’-cial out’-cast), n., the publisher's rep., who mans the book table on which undisturbed books are stacked next to the portable credit card swiper/guillotine-thing.
sound poet (sound po’-et), n., a poet who believes in rehearsing but, when reading, must be politely waited out unless of course you like the sounds, in which case: a poet who is riveting.
sweater (sweat’-er), n., yours truly.
visual poet (vis'-u-al po'et), n., a poet who comes equipped with slides or, better, PowerPoint.
voyeur (vo’-yeur), n., a person who likes to look at, but doesn’t dare touch for fear he or she may become obligated to buy, the stacked books on the book table.
waitress (wai’-tress), n., the single most important person at a poetry reading, especially when the venue holds a liquor licence.
young person (young per’-son), n., a person who cuts the book table a wide swath and carries a ms in a satchel just in case there’s a publisher or an open mic around.
Jason Guriel is a poet and critic whose work has appeared in such influential publications as Poetry, Slate, Reader's Digest, The Walrus, Parnassus, Canadian Notes & Queries, The New Criterion, and PN Review. His poetry has been anthologized in The Best Canadian Poetry in English, and in 2007, he was...