I’ve got two reading events coming up, and I must soon make up my mind about what to read. I’ve been to far too many readings over the years where poets fumble about between books in a flurry of Post-It notes (or worse, none at all), and I’d rather avoid that if I can. Naturally (ahem, ahem) I’ll follow my own advice about rehearsing beforehand, but it’s the actual choice that’s important. The really important thing is to know your audience, and of course to know how long you’re reading for … The two really important things are to know your audience, how long you’re reading for, and where in the books the poems are … The three really important things are … (I always loved that Monty Python Spanish Inquisition routine)
So I’ve got two different audiences to prepare for, and I don’t know what degree of overlap there might be between them. Better to treat them as entirely separate.
Chronologically, the first is a slam at VoxBox on 6th November. Now, I haven’t taken part in a slam since 1996, and the mistakes I made then are committed to memory. (I got to the second round, probably because the audience were being very polite) Mainly, I know now to choose my limited set carefully, and to rehearse the poems very well. There are four rounds, so that’s four poems, each to be read in under four minutes, including intros. So I’ll chop intros, except maybe for a carefully crafted impromptu (fnarr, fnarr) throw-away line or two. And the poems will be
good, better, better still, and Blimey, how good is that? Possibly. It’ll be fun anyway, and I think that’s the spirit to approach it in.
The second is a Great Grog gig on 9th November, when I’m reading with A.B. Jackson, Patricia Ace, and James W Wood. Fine poets all, so it’ll be a different sort of event. I’ll probably want to vary the length of poem, as well as mood and subject. Mainly 2008 poems I think. I’ve written quite a lot this year, and I’d like to try out some new ones.