Dear Shameless Hussy,
Recently I read with several poets new to me. After the reading I went up to one of the poets to introduce myself. The other two poets were talking to friends and before long, had left the building. Isn’t it rude to read with someone and then make off without so much as a hello or good bye?

Confused

Dear Confused,
Yes, the infamous read and run. There are poets who famously don’t even wait until the other poets are finished reading before donning their cape and heading off into the night. On the other hand, some poets are, as they say, shy. Some are socially awkward. (Some extremely so.) Some may think your poetry stinks, or worse, that you do. Some, perhaps those with capes, may think the whole affair (or you in particular) beneath them. Let’s just say that beneath that robust “I’m a poet how cool is that” glow, lurks the seething, writhing, gnashing, anxiety ridden gut of a poet negotiating the fraught world of contemporary poetry. Not an easy place, and not always generous. You might describe this behaviour as diva-ish, boorish, boring, bad ass, or shy, and it may be a bit of all of that.

Alternatively, you may be, as they say, clueless. Said poets could well be performing a devastating institutional critique of the “meet and greet” poetry reading. (Let’s face it, the post-anything scene is fairly icky). Your attempts to be engaging or otherwise collegial could be seen as interfering with their discursive gesture. My confidante suggests, think Andrea Fraser, think Vito Acconci. You may then assume your part in the new poetry hegemony and not give a rat’s ass.

Yours,
Shameless