January 14th, 2014 / 3:14 pm

Do you explain your poems when you give a reading? Maureen Thorson raises the question.


  1. Daniel Bailey

      no, but i insist that everyone in the audience follow me on twitter so i can real-time let them know each poem’s word count.

  2. Adam Robinson

      Hey Daniel, wish we were still chillin at that poetry reading from before.

  3. Daniel Bailey

      me too, it was great seeing you. we stuck our heads into yell bye, but you guys we’re dancing too hard.

  4. Daniel Beauregard


  5. Quincy Rhoads

      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.

  6. Brooks Sterritt

      no explaining

  7. Cassandra Troyan

      Never. No intros, or banter between poems. If you have to tell the audience what the poem is “called”, you are also reading it wrong.

  8. A D Jameson

      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.

  9. Quincy Rhoads

      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.

  10. Tracy Dimond

      Oh I’m in the minority. I like to say things that are true and sometimes things that are false.

  11. A D Jameson

      This one time, I saw Gary Snyder read, and he interrupted a poem to explain a detail in it, and the explanation took like thirty minutes. Then he finished reading the poem. That was class.

  12. Jeremy Hopkins

      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?

  13. mimi

      so jealous!

  14. Mark Cugini

      Whatever. Don’t be boring.

  15. deadgod

      Don’t delay, interrupt, or wrap up your glittering punch of an explanation with some shitty ‘poem’.

  16. Joseph Riippi

      can you explain this post a little bit more? Where were you when you wrote it? Did you think about making it rhyme?