Had a great time at Burning Word Saturday. The weather was beautiful albeit a little blustery at times and much better than last year's howling winds and rains. It seemed the turnout was even larger than last year, and it was a hoot to see old friends, new friends, kids from the local high schools and colleges, and more. It worked well to having two reading venues to choose between, and it was pretty easy to go back and forth between the two of them, and listen for a while, and move on.
I think my reading went over fairly well. I just love reading the word-play poems, and the audience seems to really respond to them. But that brings up a question: *should* a poetry reading be "entertaining?"
By that I mean, when you are choosing which poems to read, do you think of your audience, and try to make your reading as engaging and (I hate this word) "accessible" as possible for them? Or do you simply read what interests you at the moment, perhaps even something that is difficult or in process, and let the chips fall where they may?
The reason I bring this up is that one of my favorite poems in What's Written on the Body is "October Journal." But I have never read it in public because it is kind of long, very calm and meditative, not *funny* at all, and perhaps more than a little romantic and sad. I think it is a good poem. I love the language and the look on the page of the cascading and wandering lines. But I don't read it because I fear it may bore an audience, that it may be one of those poems that just does better on the page, where a reader can be with it on their own terms, one-on-one, rather than read before an audience, where there is very much a group dynamic going on.
What do you think? Do you have poems of yours that you love, but that you don't ever read in public?
PS: Erin has good news.