Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Just got the December issue of the American Poetry magazine. Thankfully no Christmas poems though it has a very good one called Advent by Nate Klug.
In a previous issue a letter to the editor by Christopher Conlon criticised this statement by Katha Pollitt’s in her memoir of Elizabeth Bishop: whatever way a poet reads his or her own work is fine, is, in fact, perfect, because the way they read is part of their sensibility, their own personal expression of their poem.
Conlon said: As someone who has run a poetry reading series for the past ten years, I can state most assuredly that Pollitt is wrong. I have watched countless poets — deeply talented, even brilliant poets — utterly wreck their readings and bore the audience nearly to tears.
This December issue has a further letter to the editor on the issue by Belle Randall, Seattle, who says: Judging poets as performers can only lead to poets who cultivate the skills of news anchors, Broadway actors, or other performers. This may be right for some poets, but certainly it is not right for all. Indeed, many of us value poetry precisely because it does not speak with the glibness of the polished public speaker.
It's a large and most interesting issue and you could argue for delightful hours on the topic. I think I actually agree with all three viewpoints above which don't actually contradict each other:
1. It is very interesting to hear the individual way a poet perform his/hers own work.
2. Some readers of their own work do it very badly.
3. Poets reading their own work should not think of themselves as performers and should value their individual style.
You can read most if not all of the magazine online and there is also a podcast.
There is an Open Mic event in Kells, Co Meath tonight at 9pm in the Railway Bar near the GAA grounds.