Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Why I Can’t Attend Poetry Readings

Share |

The other night I attended a poetry reading here in the capital of the country. It was the second poetry reading I’ve sat through in over ten years and probably the third reading I’ve attended in nearly twenty. It seems to be a pattern for me now; attend a poetry reading at least once every ten years or so. I recall I was actually ask to leave a poetry reading once in Victoria for being too rowdy, imagine that, a poet being rowdy. I guess you could say I was bounced out. Every poet should try it, especially if you’re the featured reader. I was much younger then. I can also recall attending my first real live poetry readings, the place was the Lions Heart Pub in North Bay, most of the poets were nearly drunk and sometimes more so, I was immediately hooked by the camaraderie, the rowdiness and blissful misery that is poetry. I’ve not since seen a scene like that since and it’s been way too long. I recall well I was there CBC radio came in one night and wanted to do a couple of interviews and record some poetry being read, I was asked and being so young I decided to calm my nerves a little more than they already were. Later they declined to do the interview as I was a little too calm for radio or anything else. Ah I miss those days, being young.
So anyways I attend this poetry reading in Ottawa, there’s no booze being served and no smoking allowed.
The Suspects.
I counted about thirty-five people, perhaps 50% men, 50% women, mostly late 40’s early 50’s , probably upper middle class. Most wore sensible shoes 30 % wore jeans (including myself), 35% wore glasses (including myself), maybe five percent of the women wore scarves and one guy. A 100 % of them were white. The two young guys who sat in fronted of me sported Charles Manson beards, without the cerebral crazy look in the eyes. The open set began the night we heard one poem about a tree, one that was good and one by a guy who went way over his time limit (never do this- it pisses everybody off. Short, sweet and something to remember you by is how you want to play it). And one poem that was hard to hear, understand or care for. You are there to be heard, make sure you are. Anyway the first of two feature readers was introduced. The introduction was succinct and not overly flattering. The first reader read for about 20 minutes the poems were good and I could hear the guy. Great, If I wanted to hear more I’d have bought the book and read it myself, short and gracious people like this. I’d prefer to read about ten minutes, myself. The second host began to introduce the second feature reader’ which I was looking forward to hearing, alas I had not the chance the second host began to drone on and on about published work, accolades and blah blah blah. Don’t do this it embarrasses the guest and bores the audience, we know who we are there to see. People believe their time is important and it is. I had to leave without hearing the second guest poet as I only had a six ounce flask and before the hat was passed around, perhaps next time I’ll bring my eight ounce flask with me. In about ten years.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

David Groulx

Award-winning poet David Groulx's most recent poetry collection, Rising with a Distant Dawn, is published by BookLand Press. David’s poetry has also appeared in over a hundred periodicals in Canada, England, Australia, Germany, Austria, Turkey and the USA. He lives in Ottawa.

Go to David Groulx’s Author Page