"There are really only two kinds of readers-aloud of poetry — the first prompts a collective slumping and hanging of the head in the lap, which sometimes indicates thoughtfulness and which sometimes indicates sleep; the second refuses to lose the eye contact with the audience."
~from "Poets Read Compellingly, Even At Lenght," The Oberlin Review
I was reading this article from The Oberlin Review, which prompted me to think about all of the poetry and literature readings I've attended. The good ones and the bad ones. These days they seem less like community gatherings and more like Barnes & Noble book-selling events. Not to mention spoken word events, which can be really fun or all performance and no substance.
Also, I have been thinking about my performance as a poetry reader. Personally, I'm rusty; I haven't read in public in more than three years. But public speaking scares the bejesus out of me, so I tend not to be conversational with the audience. I look down at the podium, looking up toward the end, while trying to focus on the crowd and not on any one person--exactly the opposite of what a reader is supposed to do.
Now that I think about it, I probably give off that "I'm only doing this because I have to" vibe. Again, this is why I don't read in public.
So I ask you as a lover of literature, tell me about some of your experiences going to a reading or giving a reading. You don't have to name names (unless you want to!). What makes a reading memorable for you? Do you like Q&A sessions? Do you like a mix of old and new works? What do dislike about the readings?