Poem a Day 2014 – Nightmare 5: Trapped in a Poetry Reading

Nightmare 5

Last year, for “Poem a Day”, I wrote four nightmare poems e.g. trapped in a cheap hotel, trapped in a bad pub. Here’s another one.


Nightmare 5 :Trapped in a Poetry Reading

I’m on time, but the venue is empty

An hour later, the room begins to fill

The MC gets up and mutters incoherently

There is a three minute limit per poet

The timekeeper has fallen asleep

A woman takes ten minutes introducing a poem
–         and then reads a different one

The air conditioning system is noisy and ineffectual

The cash register clatters loudly as people buy drinks

The next poet shambles to the microphone

Everybody is rehearsing their own poem to themselves

A drunk collapses against the rear wall

Someone shouts “Fuck the lot of you” and walks out

The MC nods to me and mouths “You’re next”

He beckons me up and introduces me as someone else

I look out at a sea of bored faces

Twenty three people leave as soon as I start to speak

I’ve lost the second page of my poem

The sound system cuts in and out, in and out

I adjust the microphone stand
–         it slips back to waist level

A mobile phone blasts out the “Dancing Queen” ringtone in the middle of my reading

The owner of the phone answers the call and says:
“That’s ok, it’s nobody any good”

I realise that mine is the only poem in the whole evening that doesn’t rhyme

The people on the door are counting money loudly, and accusing each other of theft

The timekeeper wakes up, shouts “time up” halfway through my first piece.

I walk off. The applause resembles the sound of several chapattis being dropped to the ground from a first floor window.


© Mike Hopkins 2014


7 thoughts on “Poem a Day 2014 – Nightmare 5: Trapped in a Poetry Reading

  1. I didn’t realise you like long introductions. Next time you attend I can make sure I deliver one for my poem on a similar topic – that most wonderful of beasts, poetry readings. I’ve often attended poetry readings, but this introduction will not speak of that. Rather I shall talk about how much I like it when other poets write poems on topics that I have & see the extraordinary diversity which exists & the different ways with which one can treat the same topic. Speaking of tropics I’d imagine that poetry readings in the tropics are even more unbearable than they can be here. Imagine the sweat marks one would gather in one was gathered in Townsville listening to another reworking of Clancy of the Overflow. It’d be like Lake Eyre in rainy season. With the salt marks encrusting too. But onto my poem.

    “Child & Ungulate at a Poetry Reading”

    Drifting in that pleasant dreamlike haze
    Which can only be achieved on a warm day
    In a stuffy room listening to pedestrian
    Poetry delivered in relentless monotone

    there is more, but I shall save it for FS … as well as give you the unabridged introduction 🙂

  2. when poetry does poetry and or readings it’s form without content. It’s like planning to plan. a conundrum, ellipsis, an author in search of inspiration. unless of course there’s a political massage or satyre.

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