10 Rules For Attending Poetry Readings

1.  Read about the poet you've never heard of before you go.  Then, hear it all over again in the five-minute introduction from their friend.

2.  Order your drinks beforehand.  Even the clinking of a glass can be quite distracting for poets who are used to working alone.  They might get jumpy.  Think of them as if they were tennis players.....with PTSD.

3.  Choose your seating and company carefully.  They'll set the tone for how you'll react, and your ability to sneak out in an emergency.  You wouldn't want to be tempted to clap or use the restroom.

4.  DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, CLAP.  EVER.  Though a poem may be over, the poet need not be lauded.  Awkward silence is preferable to feeling like you're naturally expressing your emotion and thankfulness at the poet's entertaining you.

5.  Walk by the book table and politely pretend that you're thinking of buying their overpriced chapbooks.

6.  Do not get up for any reason during a poet's reading.  Getting up between poets is a touch less scandalous, but nonetheless undesirable.  (See rules 2 and 3.)

7.  Plan your post-reading chitchat carefully.  Everyone's going to want to rush the poets, especially their friends who've already read all the poetry anyway.  Choose someone you know in close proximity to the poet so that you can slide into the circle of discussion as seamlessly as possible.  Begin with ambiguous praises like, "Well done," "Nice job," and "Thanks so much."

8.  Pretend like you've heard of the prizes the poet has won.  Nod approvingly with a slight grin during the introduction upon the announcement of these prizes.  This will display the idea that you know what you're talking about later.  (See rule 7.)

9.  Tip the bartenders well.  They hate you and your entire event.

10.  When you get home, remind yourself of how much better your poetry is than theirs.  Then check out a few more cute kitten videos on YouTube before going to bed early.


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