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On Mooing at Poetry Readings

David Musgrave 29 July 2013

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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.

COMMENTS
1. Inspector of Tides

I remember some poetry readings in the late 70’s being like dances at the Hornsby Masonic hall on a friday night when the Sharpies would take over and beat the shit out of everyone, including, sometimes, the band. Some poets would respond to hecklers by throwing abuse, followed closely by punches. A two-fisted review of the reviewer. There was blood on the floor. Mooing? If you started to ‘moo’ at a certain poets in the Ned Kelly bar in sydney in 1979, you might find yourself fending off a right hook or an uppercut. These days most of the sniping in poetry is done from the margins, most of the abuse is behind the scenes. Bring back the biff? I’m not a fan, but if the mooing continues, maybe I’ll be convinced…

2. davidmusgrave@icloud.com

Take ‘me’ out of ‘Wyoming’ and I’m in Wyong…

3. davidmusgrave@icloud.com

Here’s a question which I’ve found mightily vexing and would appreciate an answer. Why is it, when you cook a sausage, that it bends?

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