Poetry Scene News
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Many act like poetry or anything associated with poetry should be given away for free.

Is the 5 dollar cover most venues ask for really that expensive? 

Are the patrons who do NOT wish to pay $5 for a night of poetry right to feel that way?

Are what they are typically getting for their $5 not worth it?

Or are people being unfair to the venues and artist they refuse to support?

  Once upon a time. Poetry was not as popular as it is now. There weren’t that many venues or platforms to express your poetry. Also there was no “End Game” meaning what was the pinnacle for poets? For basketball players for example the pinnacle often at times is the NBA. For actors & actresses the pinnacle might be Hollywood. For musicians and emcees the pinnacle might be a recording contract and so on. There are poets that do private shows for money wielding

patrons for thousands of dollars per performance. There are poets that go around the world touring and make a good living off of poetry as well. However the poets that do are a select few. Also there is no clear path or set of platforms that will lead you to this path easily. There is no artist development in place that would give or sell you the wisdom it would take to follow this path as well. In comedy for example, there is a set of platforms that will lead most comics towards success as long as they are funny. (and able to navigate whatever political obstacles they may face along the way) So if they are funny enough and savvy enough. The path to a Netflix, HBO and/or television is mapped out already. This infrastructure is currently not as established in the poetry scene in my opinion.

Once upon another time the economy in this country wasn’t doing so well. So as most citizens do when money is tight, they stop going out for leisure things and only spend money on the necessities. Most businesses that sell food & alcohol felt their pockets getting thinner so they came up with an ingenious plan to supplement their loss of income. Since people were still going out on weekend (mostly Friday & Saturday nights) Business owners started opening their doors to “Open – Mic” nights during the week mostly on Monday through Thursdays. This way they could fill their seats with people who would then buy their food and drink. It was at a low cost to the owner of the business since most owners would not pay the participants of the open – mic. Consequently, most owners wouldn’t pay the organizers of the open – mic either. Selling as “It is great exposure for you and your team”

So the infrastructure of the poetry scene itself was based on a foundation that was exploitive to artist from the outset. Even on “Def Poetry Jam” on HBO. Poets perform in front of millions of viewers, yet I have yet to see any of the artist’s merchandise advertised anywhere on the screen while they’re performing or at the end credits. HBO is one of the largest platforms in the world. Yet still, they wouldn’t even flat your twitter handle across the screen while you’re performing. Most poets are “Independent Artist” meaning that they are not backed by a publishing house or a record label that is financially “cutting the check” while the artist performs to get back the money the company invested.

Which brings me to my final point. So when some of us take the entrepreneurial route. We go around the business owners, the restaurant owners, the food and beverage owners and lease our own space. Then we charge about 5 bucks to cover our cost. Why is there such an enormous pushback from the public to pay?

Is a night out not worth 5 bucks?
Is a poet spilling his or her guts out to the public not worth 5 bucks?
Is the fact that you may be an artist as well somehow except you from paying 5 bucks?
Is 5 bucks too hefty a price and if so what do you feel you should pay?
Do you think poetry or any art for that matter can survive without resources?
Do the people who don’t pay feel entitled and that they shouldn’t be asked to pay?
Are cats broke on the low and just acting entitled when in reality, they simply don’t have 5 bucks to give?

 

 

“If there truly isn’t any money in poetry, there is certainly some in writing” – Graffiti Bleu