On Mooing at Poetry Readings
David Musgrave 29 July 2013
One of my biggest gripes about the poetry scene is how audiences behave, specifically the way they moo when a poet reads out a particularly trenchant line or finishes a poem which has a 'punchline'. Sometimes at a reading I feel like I am standing in the middle of a paddock. Now I know that this might seem a bit like biting the hand that feeds one, but in actual fact the worst offenders are other poets. I was at a reading once recently where a well known poet in the audience seemed to be engaged in a mooing competition with the other bulls and cows in the audience. Where there was a moo to be had, he mooed first and loudest, the same with laughing at gags and so on. Is it too much to ask that we all sign up to a voluntary ban on mooing at poetry readings? To put the problem in a bit of perspective, for those of you who are board members of various organisations, do you notice mooing when someone delivers a particularly pithy report? Do people moo at concerts or at the footy? I didn't think so - it's a behaviour we have learned exclusively in relation to poetry. So next time I am giving a poetry reading and someone moos I'm going to stop and say, 'excuse me, you're not a cow mate.' No bull.