Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Poets Don't Become Famous.......

I get it.....

There's not many things worse than a baker telling the entire poetry community about a flaw in their system that nobody seems to notice, but I'm going to take a chance, and risk severing a few potential friendships to shed insight that I am betting will help my friends who love verse.

To start off, this post isn't aimed at those of you who are happy to sit down and write poems for fun, but instead I am talking out loud in front of those poets who harbor asperations of reading in front of large audiences.

Or any audience for that matter.

The Test -

Saturday Night Live

Jay Leno

Conan O'Brian

David Letterman

Every Other Show That Has Held National Swag

If you look at the venues listed overhead and make a list as to who has preformed on these programs, you might come up with something like this..................






Animal Trainers


Tattoo Artists


The list goes on, but its not very often, or ever that you'll find poets on these programs.

In a way this boggles me.

It seems wrong.

So after thinking about this for awhile, I rendered my clothes, shaved my head and rubbed ashes on my face as I journeyed into the wasteland to find out......

Why can't poets have commercial succsess?

I would love to tell you about the veil opening and angels hovering above, whispering truth into my ears, but I'm guessing you might not buy that so instead.......

Let me just blurt out the answer.................


That's correct, production value.

Most poets simply don't have any.

Bono has sunglasses

Michael Jordon a basketball and a wicked vertical

Snooki sells sex- flesh -additude and parties

In closing, what I;'m really trying to get across here is, I really love watching poets present live.

Theres nothing I would love more than poetry holding it's own with the other arts.

But when I think how for every literary reading theres 20 concerts, 42 sporting events, 8 cooking demo' makes me wonder if we poets shouldn't discuss how PRODUCTION VALUE creates oppurtunity, because it adds to people entertainment.

I'm not sure I have the answer to how one incorperates production values into poetry, but I am guessing that I am going to start later this month by incorperating a bad a** wardrobe into my set, and adding on from there.

Have a good weekend guys, and if you have thoughts on the topic, I would love to hear them.


  1. Rap and slams and a few standuppy sorts of poets work in that show business level. Some actors do poetry a bit, and they do it up right.

    We have had superstars. Allen Ginsberg was America's poet for a long time ... and posers like McKuen ... your guy Sandburg made it work in his day ... Frost pulled it off with his strange demeanor ... Maya Angelou is very public ...

    I think you are raising both good questions and wrong questions ... the good question is, why don't people like what we do? Poets make bad celebrities because they get impatient with falsity ... or they become false. It's why there is no Bruce Springsteen poet -- people suspend skepticism about rock because it's exciting. Poetry, not so much. Waving that piece of paper doesn't help. I think our poets today, many of them, are the comics ... they explore the world outside and inside and get us to pay attention, in a very crazy world ... poets by contrast, are just hard to get, and that's how they like it.

    I would love for a champeen to come along and hold the stage like a lion ... or lioness.

    1. I would like to be the "Old Man" Bob Dylan poet, fully equipped with ascot, fantastic hat, and but of course....the pencil mustache

  2. Don't be boring. In the poem or in the presentation. Be short. And sweet. Avoid braininess. Don't be pompous. Have the reading of the poem out loud be an event, different than the reading in silence. Read slowly. As if you were composing the poem as you read it. None of this will change the small audience for poetry, but at least the people who are there will be entertained. Be entertaining.

    1. 2 things Tim Nolan taught me......

      #1 - You can never read too slow

      #2 - "Write a poem for that woman over there" (Nolan points to a woman who looked to be in her late 70's) "And if you can write a poem that she enjoys, you have a good poem."

  3. Did you see the redneck dudes,
    Who flaunt around Elvis hairdos?
    With a folded leg in front view
    They display the sole of their polished shoe.

    The sole soiled with ugly spots
    But they grab it like young apes
    Twisting the foot before placing in the mouth
    Plucking and sucking the hair’s roots.

    If you’re dressed in the dandy suit,
    Try to think you are a man
    There is no solace in your sole
    It doesn’t count you have fans
    Be civilian, act as Gentlemen!

    --Tatiana Pahlen
    "Newly Celebrities" from (Tatianyc 2012)