Poetry readings suck. They are exercises in the worst kind of narcissism: the narcissism of a bad actor. There is nothing worse than having to endure two hours of bullshit from people you don’t even like. If you attend poetry readings regularly, then you are probably a wanna-be poet. And if you behave yourself at such readings, then you are definitely a loser. If you want to get a poet’s attention, here’s a simple formula: attend a poetry reading, politely approach a poet, punch the poet in the mouth. Not only will you get the poet’s attention, you will have accomplished something that not even the poet you’ve come to see could have accomplished: the creation of an almost pure act of poetry.
Of course, you could also stay home and write poems. But that would require you to be comfortable with long periods of loneliness, anxiety associated with the feeling of missing something, and mostly heart-breakingly intense bouts of solitude. For those of you who can’t bear the responsibility of becoming a poet, you can continue to attend poetry readings and, after you leave, perform the ritual of bitching and complaining about how shitty they are–and how awful so-and-so’s stuff is–as you drive/are driven to the nearest Taco Bell or whatever.
I attend poetry readings very infrequently. And when I do I do it for two reasons: one, I have convinced myself beforehand that I will learn something about writing poetry (by attending and actually listening to the poets read stuff at the reading), and two, I believe I will discover something about the mystery of existence (I know, stupid romantic). Simply put: people, signs, architecture–lots of things–intrigue me. Especially super fucking weirdo, but seemingly simple, things. Like the poetry reading that took place in a car wash in Austin, Texas, last week. Below, I provide you with a scintilla of evidence that poetry readings don’t have to suck, that somewhere in the world poetry people are trying to do it right, attempting to make–in their very own uniquely foolhardy way–a little miracle (which, by the way, I have always associated with crime).
Michael Davidson (aka herocious) reports from Austin on the Sad Sad Sad Fest: A Car Wash Reading (first posted by Michael on Alt Lit Gossip):
“I tweet: I’m reading a tiny story aloud today at a car wash on MLK and Airport in Austin. Come say hi at 7pm :) I don’t tell anyone I work with about the event, not even to make small talk in the copy room.”
“At home I practice reading aloud the story I plan on sharing at the event. I delete words I don’t like, then I delete entire sentences I don’t like.”
“We discuss a meeting place. We decide on 21st and Guadalupe, the same corner with the Daniel Johnston alien frog.”
“Alicia Fyne, the event organizer, is in her car in the far left bay, just like she said she would be. There are people packed into her car.”
“We meet Alicia Fyne, Andrew Hilbert, Joseph Green, Cheryl Couture, No Glykon. There is beer. There are flasks of whiskey. In other bays at the car wash, people are washing their cars. A friend shows up: David Nguyen. Other people enter the far left bay, lean against the tiled walls, introduce themselves. It’s fun. No one gives a shit.”
“To hold a reading where you least expect it. To hold a reading where it doesn’t fit in. Behind me I hear people ordering from Popeye’s.”
The Sad Sad Sad Fest was the name given to Alicia Fyne’s monthly readings series wait . . . what? The writers reading at Sad Sad Sad Fest on November 7, 2013: Michael Davidson, Cheryl Couture, Andrew Hilbert, No Glykon, Joseph Green, and Alicia Fyne.
Note: This post will be part of a series called, “Making the Scene”. The series seeks to report on readings that happen in your neighborhood. If you’ve got something to report, hit me up.
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And the greatest of them all after the jump, dear friends.