Thursday, 20 May 2010

Open Mic Disasters of Our Time (no.2)

I thought I'd follow on Frank's occasional series on poetry crimes that irk us all. Here's my irkiest irk: at a recital or open mic when the poet takes ten minutes to introduce a twenty second poem.

My God it's painful. I have endured poets, particularly the pretentious variety, gush forth for up to twenty minutes on a wide Saragasso Sea of subjects in a rambling introduction: from Fraser's Golden Bough, to a blow-by-blow description of last week's edition of Deal or No Deal (no, really; I mean it), onto a cringe-worthy account of their dismissal for incompetence and then a thorough exposition of what their poem is about and how clever it is that it is written in terza rima.

If a poem needs a ten minute intro just to mean something then there is something is wrong. Good poetry communicates before it is understood, as Eliot said. A poem wouldn't shuffle nervously onto the stage, stare at its feet and mumble some apologies for taking up our time; neither should we. Oh, and whilst I'm at it, please: no more terza rima!


1 comment:

  1. Hear hear, Mr Hopkins.

    I'd go as far as saying don't introduce poems at all.

    There's a night called Manky Poets in Manchester, hosted by Copeland Smith, where the one rule for the open mic is that the introduction isn't allowed to be longer than the poem. More events should adopt that rule - it works!