Blog, February 10 — Paul Richmond

Notes on Contributors

Valentine Word, Love & Heartbreak Reading in Greenfield

I want to talk about format, the many different formats to poetry readings. Some are just a featured reader, sometimes one and sometimes two. Others have featured readers and also have an open mic where people can come to read. Some have the open mic before the features, in the hope to keep people around and others have the features first. An event in Greenfield is a little different and is how many are run here. A call goes out to all the writers in the area, announcing the day and the event. Those who call in, email, etc. and say they would like to read are put on a list. Their names are taken off the list and put on small cards. On the day of the event when a writer shows up at the event they find their name and the card goes into a hat. The cards of those that sign up at the door go into a second hat.


When the event starts, names are picked out of the hat 5 at a time. Everyone gets 5 minutes.  All names are picked from both hats and if it is a low turnout you may get a second chance. Some would rather there was a sheet to sign up on, or that their name be put in the order they called in. Others are asking at the last minute if they can go earlier in the event, since they have to leave, etc. You never know when you will be called. There is a conscious attempt to set the tone that you are attending an event that lasts a few hours. For the organizer there is no scheduling, dealing with people not showing up, etc.  You show up, you name goes in the hat; you will have a chance to read, now enjoy the event, which usually is at a place where one can buy food, get drinks, and meet many other writers. I normally get anywhere from 25 to 45 writers saying they want to read and 5 to 10 no shows with 5 sign ups at the door. It takes some pressure off the writers for something always comes up for someone and they can’t make it. This event is not dependent on them showing at a certain time to read. At this particular event there is an attempt to merge other arts, by having musicians and art vendors. It is seen as a conscious effort to bring business to a local restaurant. If there are other formats out there it would be great to hear about them.


If you are in the area this coming Sunday, February 12 at 1:00 in Greenfield MA, at the Greenfield Grille, there will be a Valentine Word, Love & Heartbreak event. If you can make it great, there will be a sign up at the door, there will be many writers, musicians and vendors selling their art work, food and drinks. We hope you can join us or have one of your own.