There’s a tendency, when people gather to hear poetry read aloud to speak in a contrived and self-important hipster-speak, like up-talk? only way more annoying. Like a smudgy, third-rate copy of somebody whose bum-hole was once licked by Allen Ginsburg or Lorca or Pablo Neruda. (“I am familiar with the work of Pablo Neruda,” said Bart Simpson once.)
The fucking Poet Voice. God save us all from the Poet Voice.
And where did it come from? Why is it in existence? Why? How? What the hell, man? If you’ve never been to a poetry reading (you lucky, lucky person). you may never have experienced the Poetry Voice. So imagine a beatnik. That you want to slap. You know what that annoying beatnik’s voice sounds like? The Poetry Voice. There ya go. Why more poetry readings don’t end in violence, I don’t know. At least that would be interesting.
And everyone who’s ever read poetry out loud has done the Poet Voice, often unconsciously; they’ve tried to lend weight to ephemeral words by donning the metaphorical beret and muttering like a pretentious junkie.
I think the reason the fucking Poet Voice exists is the fact that it’s like a verbal footnote, a way of saying “Did you see what I did there?” It’s the original humble-brag. “I am clever and important and once, I had a dream that I was a squirrel.” Fie on it, I say.
Poets used to make their living by being cool and exciting, travelling from town to town, swiving women and staying one step ahead of the law. Nowadays, they read out the laundry instructions that are printed on their own soul with all the conviction of a Quaalude addict perusing a Chinese food menu.
SHUT THE FUCK UP. DON’T DO THE POET VOICE. DO LITERALLY ANYTHING BUT THE POET VOICE. Talk like a chicken! Affect a French accent! Run like an angry tree! Don’t do the fucking Poet Voice.
Tune in tomorrow, in which I cure the heart-break of psoriasis.