Thursday, March 13, 2008

poetry, readings, community and attendance

All this talk of poetry and list porn - one ought also to point folk to the posts at Caferati (all seven of 'em) where several people introspect about why poetry readings have such thin attendance in India.

First of all, I'm not sure that's true. I've found surprisingly large numbers at different readings. But even assuming that there are only three or four people in the room, surely the quality of the engagement between reader and audience should matter more?

Sampurna feels one can always tell when a reading has been good; Vivek feels one ought to aspire to community rather than merely aiming for numbers.

In the comments, Dilip makes an extraordinary statement that sounds suspiciously like he's advocating 'readability' - whatever that may be ('How do I write so I get read?'). CP (I suspect Surendran?) wants poets to drop the persona and get poetry ambassadors - preferably a 'cricket star or a Bollywood hero'. Falstaff wonders why we're talking about readings at all when one can engage just as well (if not better) with reading poetry off the page.

Lots of stuff there. Go read.

And I will turn off my computer and start writing longhand so I won't get distracted. (


km said...

Interesting conversations, all those.

But here's my question: why *should* poetry readings have a large audience?

Is there a large audience for documentary films? Or for installation art?

Space Bar said...

km: Because poets like to think they're rockstars? :D

I suspect because people like their own events well-attended. After all mushairas are; KAvi Sammelans are. Perhaps IPE do suffer from a sense fo being orphaned.

Falstaff said...

km: They don't, but wouldn't it be nice if they did?

I agree it's unrealistic to expect large audiences for poetry readings. But one can hope.

Space Bar said...

you know this reminds me of that short story by Irvine Welsh - 'Where The Debris Meets The Sea' - the one where Kylie Minogue, Kim Bassinger and Madonna dream of hot boys from Leith and speak in chaste Scots.

Simple reversals are so startling and funny...sigh. I'm imagining the 50 poets inducing something like Beatlemania and aam admis fighting over who gets to sit in the rattle joolry seats.

Falstaff said...

SB: You've seen this I suppose?

Space Bar said...

Falstaff: yes of course. In fact, I've misplaced my copy of Heavy Water and couldn't remember the name of the story, or I'd have mentioned it. Such fun, no?

km said...

Rockstars eh? Then maybe poets need to shed their seriousness and do what rock music did to classical music :D

But you are so right about "kavi sammelans". I have many fond memories of attending *jam-packed* kavi sammelans as a kid.

I think Indian poets writing in English need to make the events more boisterous and less classy.

Which sadly means - yes - writing poems about nagging wives and "char laina" :)