performance Archive

How to Do Things With Readings: After Cave Canem’s 20th Anniversary

Like any literary form or rule, the poetry reading raises questions regarding subjectivity and context: whose conventions are these, what do they enable, and how do they suit the projects at hand?

No Poetry Aloud…?

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July, 2007. The Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. The Italian comedian Roberto Benigni takes the stage and begins to recite poetry. Pausing between cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy, he offers observations about the poem and anecdotes from his own life. Maybe this type of event sounds simple, or

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Stop Fearing the Business of Writing

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Last week, Guernica published an interview with art critic Ben Davis, which begins with Davis questioning the premise that “the central tension of the art empire is that between creativity and money.” Davis says there can obviously be tension between what sells and what an artist wants to express, but he argues that money also funds

Where Your Writing Can Go: Storytelling as Advocacy

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Christy Burch didn’t think she was a writer. This was before she worked with rape crisis centers and with the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA), working with advocates statewide to support victims of violence. While in these roles, she was instrumental in the release and pardon of thirteen incarcerated, battered women. She

Why Poetry Can’t Find Its Public, Part Two

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A couple months ago, my blog, “Why Poetry Can’t Find Its Public” nearly caused a riot. Teeth were bared! F bombs thrown! I wanted readers to learn from pop music’s ability to connect with more people. Readers translated this as a suggestion that poetry be like pop music, sell like pop music, sell out like

How Can We Feed Our Creativity?

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For songwriter Vienna Teng, the secret seems to lie in her variety of influences. While I combed through your fabulous feedback (!) on What Poetry Can Learn from Pop Music last month, I connected with Teng for my ongoing interview series,  “Hey Guys, Other People Read Too!“  A Taiwanese-American songwriter, Vienna’s chamber-folk style has led her to

Why Poetry Can’t Find its Public

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Hey Poets. I was in LA last month for music work, and I think I found something you dropped: The public.  So—Maybe you weren’t sure when you lost it, but you seem pretty certain music stole it. Or film perhaps? Or YouTube cats? Meanwhile, poetry’s stayed alive. It’s been breeding

So… Readings. What’s the point?

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If you’re a writer, you’ve likely subjected yourself to awkward, lifeless Readings enough times to wonder whether there’s still a purpose for these mysterious liturgies. We probably don’t need an old time tent revival (I hope not!)… But asking, “what’s the point?” may be long overdue. What I mean is: perhaps who/whatever began

Why Are Readings So Awkward?

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Hey Writing World. I love you. You’re brilliant. You make amazing things happen on a page. But you have NO IDEA what to do behind a microphone. And so many of your venues are grim! They make us forget that there’s ever been magic in words. Basically, there’s an