Not Another Boring Poetry Reading

poetry reading
poetry reading (Photo credit: Seven Morris)

No, it never ever has to be a boring reading, but I swear there are so many people, memories of school days in their heads, who cringe at the idea of listening to a poetry reading. As a reaction to that we have Spoken Word movements and poetry slams (I’ll post one or two of my favorites tomorrow). Although all of that might sound a little too much like street rap to the traditional ear, they have their place in bringing poetry back from the brink of destruction.

As we have said in previous posts about bringing poetry back as a relevant art form, even traditional verse can be read in a way that is delightful to the modern ear. Mathew MacFayden and The King Blues are good examples of people who know how to do it. Groups like Poetry Out Loud work to spread that spark to the younger generation. Video productions of the work of Ken Nordine and Billy Collins attest to what video websites have done to put poetry into a contemporary context, capturing the fun of the art, and dispelling the fears of potential boredom. Heck, even London got bombed recently with poems from a helicopter! And I will continue posting about such efforts, as well as some more serious critiques of what the art has done to itself and how it is recovering.

I was telling my friend Kate the other day about some video readings, particularly one of a poem by Philip Larkin called “This Be the Verse,” that could be found on YouTube. And while I wish these folks would make some newer videos, the five that can be found on the I Blame Poetry channel are just absolutely first class productions. I am envious. Here they are as I posted them back in December of 2010.

23 Replies to “Not Another Boring Poetry Reading”

  1. David,
    What a great collection of readings. I’ve now added another item to the list of things to do… I like the way these were filmed with mostly full face view. I’m big on the eyes and facial expression and I think it really added to the readings.
    I don’t think I’ll have a good a quality and won’t aim for the different positions / expressions etc. but I do think I’ll try a full faced reading one of these days.

    I appreciate all you do to help spread the poetry word!!!

    P.S. Driving to PA tomorrow (Harrisburg) for a meeting on Tuesday.




    1. And I’m really glad you liked these, Stephen. Yes, there is something to putting a face to the reader that I enjoy, though some days I don’t feel like it’s a good day to put the face on camera. 🙂 I am looking forward to getting a better internet connection here on Tuesday, and plan on many more videos as a result.


  2. Thanks for sharing these! I can understand why you wish there were more!

    My favorites are the Houseman, and, of course, Dorothy Parker, because what gay man can NOT like Parker.


    1. I do know that poem… I went through a Dorothy Parker phase when I was in my mid-20s. I have read most everything she’s written. I think I’ll have to rummage around my book boxes and find my Portable Dorothy Parker (I actually wrote Portable DP, but that seemed rather wrong…) 🙂


  3. As always, you find great ways to enthuse your readers. I am still trying to pluck up the courage to read to camera myself – when people do it so well I always think there is no need, frankly, to inflict myself upon the world!


    1. There are so many great ways to do it. There use to be two ladies online who would take turns reading a few lines in front of department stores, in coffee shops, or on vacation, reading a poem from that region, etc. They were not world class voices, but their enthusiasm and fun, even in the nervousness, made it worth watching. I shall have to look for their old videos.


  4. Oh these were fun! and as for not a good day to face the camera… surely every day is a good day for poetry to be read, and if not by faces that look like ours, then whose? I sort of like the notion of hair askew, eyes tired and verse ironic for the world. Let them hear poetry today and every day! (and these were wonderful)


    1. You know, girl, you make a damned good case. You’ve convinced me. I do have one that I called a bed head poetry reading. Maybe we need more of that. lol


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