In the 15-odd years I’ve been organising spoken word gigs (Jesus, that explains a lot), I’ve been asked on occasion how to successfully book the right performers without upsetting or alienating various people who feel hard done by or disrespected. Short answer is, of course, you can’t.
And in the 20-odd years I’ve been a performer in various art forms (good god, what’s wrong with me?), I’ve been asked how one is meant to put it all out there and not feel shit, slapped and artistically shaken when overlooked for a spot or a shot you wanted bad enough to cause tooth decay. Again, real short answer, you can’t.
You can try, nobody gets into running gigs or publishing poetry to piss people off, and you can be as open and transparent as you like, someone somewhere will take issue with your choices.
So here’s a little cheat sheet for all you would-be warriors of the word on both sides of the curtain from an idiot who just can’t stop.
Firstly, to the gig. Now, each gig is as disparate and diverse as each poet. The longest running gigs have become that by delivering to the audience they are aimed at a high quality lineup of writers and readers the target demographic has come to hear and grown to enjoy. The one-off and semi-regular gigs make their mark with diversity and the musical dichotomy of styles available in this vibrant community. To the gig runners and the venue hustlers and the money scrimpers and chair stackers, we salute you. None of us would have a shot to spit and shine if you guys didn’t do all this for dumb love of words and a willingness to kiss pavement. Steady as she goes, I’ll not be telling you how to shave a cat. But to those wanting gigs and open mic slots and recognition and praise, listen up.
There really is no magical formula to getting where you want to be. It’s a fairly cut and dry approach, tried and true. Firstly, you got to get out th