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How (not) to run a reading series.

May 4, 2010 \pm\31 12:08 pm

1. Be sure to choose a venue with an ice machine that sounds like a DeWalt hammerdrill. Ice machine should have no off-switch. For optimum effect, ice machine must go into high gear when your most prominent, and/or well-connected poet is reading.

2. Your venue should have a microphone that flickers on and off throughout the reading at random. For added flair, you may want to work with a microphone that gives out entirely.

3. Never completely figure out the microphone or speaker system.

4. Give your reading series a name that evokes a strip club.

5. When requesting a poet to give a reading, always copy and paste the email you sent to the prior poet verbatim. This way, you can address Henri Cole as “Dear Ms. Marvin” and Marie Howe as “Please forward to Arda Collins.”

6. If you happen to address a certain beloved and lauded octogenarian poet by the wrong name in your query email, you’re encouraged to add: P.S. Would you consider blurbing my book?

7. When you don’t hear back from the beloved and lauded octogenarian poet (we’ll call her The BLOP), ask the most hypersensitive poet in the community if she is still “with us.”

8. Rest assured that you will soon see The BLOP’s newest collection at St. Mark’s Books. Consider Tupac and his many posthumous releases. Then consider that The BLOP is alive and well. She’s just avoiding you because she thinks you are lame.

I ain’t mad atcha.

9. Yes, absolutely include a bloody glove in your initial website design.

10. In preparing the poets’ bios, there’s no need to learn how to correctly pronounce Pleiades or “Nurkse.”

11. Never ever provide a podium, music stand or water.

12. Make sure to host a group of young, hip poets on July 4th weekend. This way, when no one shows up, you get to experience their silent scorn in its pure, undiluted state. 


13. Spend time making friends with your shame.

14. Come to terms with the fact that everyone dreads a poetry reading.

15. Come to terms with the fact that you especially dread a poetry reading.

16. Keep the damn thing afloat anyway. The dish from your MFA shows up every time.

17. If you are following instructions correctly, the dish should move to Berlin very shortly.

18. Take the unwilling ghost of Kurt Cobain hostage.

19. Take the unwilling ghost of Curtis Mayfield hostage.

20. Binge eat Luna Bars in the bathroom.

This is dedicated to my little bubbalah, Polestar Poetry Series, now in its 21st installment. Rock.

  1. paul u. hoff permalink
    May 4, 2010 \pm\31 2:11 pm 2:11 pm

    make sure venue double books.

  2. May 4, 2010 \pm\31 9:13 pm 9:13 pm

    Make sure to tell your readers that you really liked their performances, so much that you almost didn’t notice they were reading poetry.

  3. May 4, 2010 \pm\31 10:43 pm 10:43 pm

    Make sure to tell them you blog.

  4. May 6, 2010 \pm\31 11:38 pm 11:38 pm

    make sure you have [an] anhvu there to clap when you are finished?

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