What not to do at your featured poetry reading

I want to share this article, which came across on one of my social media feeds. It offers several tips of what to avoid when you give a featured poetry reading. The first point, about knowing your audience, is most important. Whether you are booking a reading tour for a new release, or just doing one reading a year, it is important to do your research. Know the venue. Know the crowd. What type of style/tone do they like? If they are a rowdy crowd, mostly accustomed to performance more than what’s on the page, then keep that in mind, and vice versa. The more you connect with a crowd, the more they will remember your work and perhaps buy a book.

Some of the points are key, too. Never, EVER go over your time. Be mindful that people have lives, and though they may want to hear you read, even your biggest fan does not want to sit through a three-hour set.

Check out the article for some other useful tips!

Sometimes You Just Have to Say No

The nonfiction journal Brevity has a great blog post about ways to avoid overbooking yourself as a writer. The guest author, Lev Raphael, admits that most young writers say yes to everything for the exposure. However, there is  a danger to that because committing to so many engagements pulls a writer from the daily work schedule. Raphael shares some useful advice he learned from another writer during an engagement at a Jewish Community Center. “It’s not just the day you’re there, she (the other author) said, if it’s only a day.  It’s the day before, getting ready, and then at least one day of re-entry into your regular schedule, sometimes more, depending on how complicated your visit was.”

Raphael also notes that writers should consider whether or not the gig will be fun or challenging, and whether or not the compensation, if there is any, is worth it. Raphael’s post made me reflect upon all of the writing engagements and readings I’ve done in the last few years, which has probably neared 100 or so. More recently, most of them have been worth it and have led to book sales and networking with different writers and literary communities. However, when I first started doing this, I said yes to everything. I’ve driven a few hundred miles round trip to read before five or six people. Looking back, I would have said thanks, but no thanks to some of those engagements. Like Raphael advises, guard your time and worry about the work first and foremost.  Research the conference or reading series. Make sure the drive or air travel is worth it.