Monday, 7 April 2014

Never mind the controversy ( if there is one ) over the winning poem in the National Poetry Prize there is an even greater one in the realms of our local poetry scene.

It involves the question of whether applause should be encouraged, or not, after each poem in a reading by a poet.

My feeling is that it depends on the length of the poems and the nature of the poems. It can be a bit distracting if every 8 line poem is clapped by the audience, it can disrupt the flow of the delivery of the poet. But, conversely, if a poet has delivered a rather wonderful poem which touches people then they have every right to let their feelings show in a response to the poet.

One of the worst experiences in reading and listening is where there is a cold stillness in the air after each poem. No one dares cough or talk or fidget between poems. The poet can’t tell whether they should alter their tone or change the poems as they are getting no feedback. Everyone is stuck in this 10 minutes of sterility waiting for it to end.

Applaud away as far as I’m concerned, make a point to a friend, have a drink, adjust your seat. Just be quiet when the poet is actually reading.