At 7 pm on Wednesday 30 March I read my poetry at the Upper Norwood Library Hub. In this post I will set out how the event progressed in the hope that my experience may assist others thinking of organising a poetry reading.
Firstly I would like to thank those who attended and helped to make the event happen, including everyone who assisted in promoting my poetry reading.
I advertised the event using this poster, which was displayed in the library and in a number of local businesses who kindly agreed to promote my reading, https://kmorrispoet.com/2022/03/14/an-image-of-the-poster-advertising-my-poetry-reading-on-wednesday-30-march/. In addition the library included the poster in the “What’s On” section of their website.
My reading was also promoted by a friend on Crystal Palace Local (a Facebook page serving the Crystal Palace and surrounding area).
I also sent an email to work colleagues informing them of my reading and linking to the library’s website.
What was the result of all this promotion by myself and friends?
A total of 8 people attended all of whom where friends or acquaintances.
One acquaintance (who did attend) was unable to bring along some friends interested in attending due to them having tested positive for Covid. In addition one of my friends was unable to come along as he also had tested positive for Covid.
The reading itself went well. I read from my most recent poetry collection “Leaving and Other Poems” and gave a short introduction prior to reading each poem. An interesting discussion took place following on from my reading of many of the poems and many attendees enjoyed a glass of white wine provided by me.
So what lessons do I take away from my poetry reading?
I paid £98 for the hire of the space and approximately £13 for a box of white wine. Whilst the library did an excellent job of ensuring the event ran smoothly and I am extremely grateful to the gentleman who helped to ensure that everything went well, I did not cover my costs and (to my knowledge) no new readers where introduced to my work.
As mentioned above, the library did an excellent job and the space provided was ideal for my reading. However, when organising a future event I will consider booking a free space. I did have the option of using (free of charge) the function room in a local pub on the basis that attendees would buy drinks at the bar thereby providing income to the pub. In retrospect I should perhaps have availed myself of my local pub’s kind offer.
Having said the above, the library is in a central location in Crystal Palace and has obvious literary draw for those interested in books.
When organising a future reading I might consider inviting along another local poet. This would enable the splitting of costs and he/she could promote to his/her friends/contacts whilst I could do likewise.
There is, of course also the option of reading one’s poetry online. I have done this over Zoom with friends dialling in, and also over Microsoft Teams with work colleagues attending virtually. I enjoyed both online readings. There is, however something special and intimate about reading one’s poetry to a live audience which online events are unable to replicate. I shall therefor organise a future in person reading whilst also continuing to read my poetry online.
(Leaving and Other Poems can be found here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09R8NG6WQ/).