I like it when poets explain their work at readings. It gives the reading a more intimate, VH1 Storytellers vibe, and, in many cases, it helps me understand what the hell the ding-dang poem actually means.
I agree and tend to do the same. The only exception I can see is if the event is meant to be more conversational, like a salon, where attendees discuss the work. Otherwise, it should be presented the same way a play or a movie is (sans explanation).
I also tend to hate it when writing is “read.” It should be performed.
However, one time I was at a reading and the author stopped in the middle of her essay to explain a minute detail and i thought that was annoying. So yes to explanations, but no to explanations that interrupt the readings.
The one time in my life I read a poem to a crowd, a poem which involves a guy jumping off a cliff, dying, and getting chewed up by worms, I said something like “This isn’t a cry for help. It’s meant to be funny,” which probably is ‘doing it wrong’ but it was my first and only time reading a poem to crowd and I didn’t want them thinking this-or-that. I had a clear idea of what I wanted and didn’t want, and I guess I should’ve just tried to read it in a manner towards that end, but I figured it was pretty casual and who would care more about what I said before the poem than the poem? A: Someone who doesn’t care much about the poem, so who cares?