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« Caregifted by Heather McHugh | Main | "To Be of Use" Considered: A Conversation with Marge Piercy [by Charles Coe] »

February 12, 2014


Another terrific post from you, Charles. And yes, your logic is sound in every point you make here. Those of us who have given a large chunk of our lives to developing and sharing our craft with others DO deserve compensation. And at the very least, a sponsor should indicate there won't be compensation prior to a reading. Artists tend to have enough issues already with self esteem, so why make it worse? Thanks for sharing this today.

It's embarrassing to ask to be paid upfront for an event. It should come about with in minutes of checking in on each other, if it's a good date, etc. That said, I have received small amounts for my gas and had books for sale that increased the money I earned. It wasn't much, but it did pay for my gas and made me feel as though I really had something to say. At the time I illustrated books that I helped the author self-publish. At the very least it showed some respect for us.

I won't say I've never been paid for my poems because I have, and sometimes just when I'm not sure how I'll put gas in the car. More often I hear voices, richer than my own, that barely receive an ear and a nod.
But one time after I had spent my last $5 on a beer at an open mic so that the venue wouldn't get stiffed, a stranger approached me on the sidewalk and quoted my own lines back to me. The idea that such a frisson should be metered and taxed is kind of creepy.
More power to the professionals I guess, but all love to the amateurs.

I always buy a book when I go to a reading, Always. And I buy the book when someone I know has published. I am horrified that you traveled so far to read and read with no books purchased. The host should buy copies for you to sign and then sell them at the store, at the very least, or give themt o special customers. What a out-rage!!! Kay Bourne

My best pay came when I read with some jazz musicians where it actually turned out to be a useful amount of money.

I know that a lot of organizers are putting together readings as a labor of love, but I think passing the hat, particularly for out-of-town readers makes a lot of sense.

I agree with passing the hat, at least. Where is it written that poets don't get paid?

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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