How to Not Read Poetry

January 31, 2012

Some people saunter through their poetry, some wail through it as if they were drowning a thousand song birds.  Some simply make you want to scream and cry.  But the most significant problem at poetry readings is the urge to go to sleep or simply to leave the room.

My favorite passage on this subject of poetry readings is in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent are forced to listen to Vogon poetry which as it turns out is the third worse poetry in the universe.  And that’s always a good thing to keep in mind when listening to bad poetry, that it may not be the very worst.  There could be poetry that is even more vomit inducing that whatever you are listening to.



The Book: Vogon poetry is the third worst in the Universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience members died of internal hemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. The very worst poetry in the universe was written by Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex. Thankfully it was destroyed when the earth was. 


That being said, there are good poetry readings too, but simply not enough.  Too many are just crazy making.  I have been too way more than my share of readings.


Do you want to be good at reading?  Here are some hints.


  1. Watch this video and learn.
  2. Go to readings and take notes on what people do badly.  Avoid being boring.
  3. Also avoid trying to read better than you know how.  If you aren’t a singer, don’t try to sing.  If you aren’t an actor, don’t try to act and for god’s sake, if you aren’t a dancer, DO NOT try to dance.  There is nothing that is more painful than watching someone attempt to dance alone at a reading.
  4. At the sign that anyone in the audience is super bored, wrap it up.
  5. Try to read under your limit.  Like the world’s best Casanova, leave them begging for more.  If you are expecting 15 minutes, at 20 minutes you want to shoot yourself.


Enough advice for one day.


Encinitas is a nice town.  Never had been there before, but I spent the afternoon hanging out there.  There is one store called Bliss which I fell madly in love with.  They had all these house decorations, these huge green pillows with Indian silk shams and these wall paintings, candles that were magical and lovely, but unfortunately all out of my price range.  But walking around the store made me happy like entering the world of magical mad cabinet maker.  My friend and I  went to the East Village Asian Diner for dinner and had this clay pot full of rice and salmon and sprouts and marmalade tea and sake.  It was great, I would go back in a second.

Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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