Tuesday, June 28, 2011
an open letter to poets with long, rambly intros at readings
In your work, you make intentional choices to create a poem. You are rigorous about economy of language, the sound of the words, a line’s balance & rhythm, the images you choose and the layout of the poem on the page and in the air. I suggest that you apply this same rigour to your introductions. If your poem needs an introduction, keep it short. Remember that this is your first contact with your audience and they will easily lose interest. You do your poem a disservice when your introductions lose the attention of the audience, when you mumble and when you ramble.
If you have a lot to say about a poem, perhaps you should consider writing a poem about the poem or choosing another poem that requires less supplementary information. If you feel you need to explain a poem to the audience, perhaps it isn’t the right poem to read to this particular group, or perhaps the work itself is lacking and needs a good edit or you aren’t having faith in the audience’s ability to catch on. Trust your writing.
I suggest you care as much about your introductions as you do about the poems themselves. Rehearse them, edit them and make them compelling. Or drop them and make the poem itself stronger. The poem, like the cheese, stands alone.
an audience member.