when the financial crisis became real late last year a poet friend of mine said to me: when the economy is booming, poets get the short shrift, and now that the economy has tanked, you wouldn’t think poets could get treated any worse…
but tonight’s reading at LACMA was proof of just how low it can go. first of all, LACMA scheduled a poetry reading to be part of a huge party. second, they put the reading in the middle of an enormous gallery space where hundreds of people (there for the beer and grilled sausages, and possibly the art) would be passing through. third, there was no mike for the first half hour—not that the mike was broken, or that there were technical difficulties, but LACMA scheduled a poetry reading without even considering the need for one.
in the meantime, LACMA’s PR staff were photographing and recording the event with great intensity. then, at exactly 10:48, in poet-mid-sentence, the videographer walked up to the podium and yanked her microphone out, packed up and left. “gotta go!”
so here’s Amy Gerstler trying to “go back to her cheerleading days” and scream some poetry at the crowd. (sated sausage eaters/Kiefer admirers in the background).
below is LACMA staff doing what it takes.
by the end of the evening, August Kleinzahler reads marvelous poetry to no one. “very John Cage” is how he will remember this evening.
ps. the sausages, especially the horseradish mustard, were very good.