POETRY HOST BLUES, DARK HORSE UPDATE: Last night was the Georgia Poetry Society Open Mic & Reading Series I host at the B&N at Tech in Atlanta. It was a big night for the series because GPS had received the very first grant given to an Atlanta organization by Poets & Writers, Inc. There was media coverage, lots of buzz. I arrived at B&N at 6:45 p.m. to find that rather being set up around the fireplace upstairs, we had been stuck in the back of the noisy media department. I was so furious, I almost blew a gasket. I had to get my back up and demand to have the set up moved, and since there was only one poor girl trying to do it, me and another poet wound up having to move chairs. By the time we were done, I was sweating like a pig and even more furious. Luckily, there was a good crowd (I guestimate about 35) and a lot of friends of mine and Cherryl's in the audience.

At the beginning of the evening, I asked that everyone keep their reading to one long poem or two short ones because Cherryl was going to do an extended feature and then take questions from the audience. Everyone pretty much followed the rule, but I had a sense something was up with a guy who had come in late and had a stack of papers on his lap. This same poet had been at Java Monkey the week before and read an obscenity laced rant, which is fine at JM, but doesn't fly at B&N. I pointedly said no obscenity because I knew this guy was going to read the same piece. I could hear him grumbling to his friends about this. When he got up to read he brought up a stack of pages, single spaced, typed on both sides and announced he was going to ready his autobiography. The oxygen leaked out of the room and I realized then that I was going to have to do something I'd never done before as a host: interrupt a poet and tell them to stop.

The poet launched into his "autobiography" describing events from his earliest memories of childhood up to elementary school, and appeared he was going to move on to junior high and beyond. The audience was slowly zoning out and I could feel eyes upon me wondering when I was going to get out the big hook and yank him off. One poet passed me a note and said to get him off the microphone. So, at minute five I stood up and said he would have to stop. I reminded him of the rules and asked him to respect the other poets. He was very disgruntled, said something about he thought he could read for at least 10 minutes, but went back to his seat. The audience applauded him and we moved on to the next couple of readers before Cherryl went on. I noticed that the poet I had silenced and his friends were all whispering and looking my way. I felt badly, but I had to keep the evening moving.

While Cherryl was in the middle of her set (which was brilliant as always), the upset poet said, a little too loudly, that Cherryl had been reading for along time. Quick as a flash, Cherryl said, "I'm the featured poet, I get more time, I do have ears you know." She didn't miss a beat and went right back to her poetry. A truly class act. You know a poet is connecting with the audience when there are little gasps, sighs and murmurs at the end of a poem. Cherryl was getting all that and hearty applause. She also sold some copies of her wonderful book, Chops, and I was delighted to see new faces in the audience. The evening turned out well, but it nearly gave me a heart attack. I don't know how hosts who do this weekly can handle it. I'm too detail-oriented and control freekish to try and sort out a weekly reading. It gives me even more respect for folks like Kodac Harrison, who hosts Java Monkey, and my pals out in LA.

So...The Dark Horse readings are Sunday and Monday night at Theatre Gael/14th Street Playhouse. My pal Lisa Allender is actually reading one of the parts, so that makes it even more exciting. Visit the Theatre Gael website for all the details and to make reservations. I know we're competing with the Super Bowl tomorrow night, but no excuses for Monday. :)

Comments

Teamaster said…
That guy sounds like a real...well, let me say so in a cheer:

Gimme a P! Gimme an R! Gimme an I! Gimme a C! Gimme a K! Whadazat spell? :)

-D.

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