As you can tell from the title, last night was a very mixed pleasure. A poet who I shan’t name (but who is extremely experienced as a performer, and should have known better) managed to screw two of the Open Mic readers. Yes, I was one of them. And yes, some of this may well be sour grapes, although I’m pretty damn sure my annoyance wasn’t apparent during my reading. Maybe it should have been.
The Open Mic session was just about over – I was reader 18 of 20. Everyone who was coming to listen should have been well and truly settled by then. But these two latecomers arrived just after I began. And instead of staying quietly to the back until the changeover between poets, decided, while I was still reading, to come up and talk to The Poet Who Shall Remain Nameless (And Should Have Known Better). Who just happened to be sitting right up the front, about two feet from the microphone. And instead of TPWSRN indicating that they should have the courtesy of shutting the hell up while someone else was reading, s/he bloody well welcomed them and launched into an animated discussion!
I seriously contemplated stopping and saying something along the lines of “oh I’m so sorry, how rude of me to interrupt. I’ll wait until you finish.” All they had to do was wait another sixty seconds, and come up to talk to him/her during the changeover between me and the next poet (if it was urgent – which it obviously wasn’t), or after the Open Mic session finished (about three minutes later) when we have a half-hour break.
But no. They actually went even ruder. Kept chatting and waving their hands, and then in the middle of the next guy’s poem, got up and walked to the back of the shop. Still talking. And gesturing.
How f***ing rude can you be?!
The term “poetry sl*ts” is used to refer to the people who only come to a poetry reading to hear themselves or their cronies, and then depart straight after. I’m trying to think of an appropriate term for this pair of clowns. And yet another one for TPWSRN.
No big deal? Compared to global warming, no. But the whole thing about an open mic session is that you at least pretend to be supportive. Don’t like the poem? Fine. Don’t applaud. Or vote for them. If you’re desperately annoyed, make a loud comment while everyone else is applauding. But encouraging your supporters to walk the length of the audience, and talking through someone else’s reading?!