Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry
A poetry reading is a performance of
given on a small stage in a cafe or bookstore, although poetry readings
given by notable poets frequently are booked into larger venues
college auditoriums, etc.) to accommodate crowds. Unless otherwise
indicated in advance, poetry readings almost always involve poets
reading their own work or reciting it from memory -- the recitation of a
work by another poet is normally the act of a well-known poet who
chooses to read a few poems by forgotten poets or old friends that the
poet feels should be more widely known. Poetry readings normally involve
several readers (often called "featured poets" or "featureds"), although
normally one poet is chosen as a "headliner".
Poetry readings are often paired with
open mikes -- many
open mikes restrict themselves exclusively to poetry, and most welcome it.
Sometimes the two events are fused -- a successful open mike will invite a local
poet to "feature" in the middle of its normal event, or to be the final
performer of the evening.
Poetry readings have diminished in popularity (along with poetry) in recent
decades -- they have become less and less a part of the mainstream
pop culture, and more and more identified with an artistic fringe. They have
remained most popular in large cities and college towns, where the population of artists and poets is larger and more
self-sustaining. Not all readings have gone this way, however; for instance,
slam poetry is
poetry that has adopted to a hip-hop sensibility, and slam poetry contests have
enjoyed rising popularity in recent years, especially in the United States.
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