Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Poetry in Motion" at Bouchercon 2008

I arrived early for the "Poetry in Motion" panel last Friday and sat in the audience for a few minutes until the room organizer looked from my nameplate on the table to the name badge around my neck and said, "Excuse me. You're supposed to sit up here."

I then tested the steps to the dais and talked with a few people in the audience until my fellow panelists arrived.

Reed Farrel Coleman
Moderator Reed Farrel Coleman had us introduce ourselves and talk briefly about how we got into poetry. He then opened the floor to questions, and between answers we read two poems each.

Reed read "Jungfrau" from The Poetry of Murder (a chapbook printed for his well-remembered poetry panel at Bouchercon 2005 with Ken Bruen, Peter Spiegelman, and Jim Fusilli) and "The Dying Man", forthcoming in Issue 2 of The Lineup.

John Harvey
John Harvey read "Chet Baker" and "What Would You Say?" from his 1998 collection Bluer Than This.

Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah read "Don't Say I Said" from Pessimism for Beginners and "Occupational Hazard" from Leaving and Leaving You.

It seemed a decent turnout, mostly fiction readers who were curious about poetry. The first question, for example, was "How do you keep your prose from becoming too flowery and 'poetic'?"

Reed smiled at "flowery" before explaining that poetry involved cutting, distilling language to its essence. John Harvey agreed that poetry was about choosing the right word.

Reed also talked about his time as editor of a poetry zine and how he forgot the lessons of poetry with his first book, but remembered them in writing his Moe Prager P.I. series.

Gerald So
My poems "A Single Bound" and "Witness Protection" were by far the shortest, but they proved Reed and John's point that poetry is more focused than flowery.

Of course, a panelist's perspective is different from that of the audience. If you attended the panel, please comment with your thoughts, If anyone has pictures from the panel, I will replace these file images.

The rest of my first Bouchercon experience is covered here.

1 comment:

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I'm glad Reed said what he did about poetry teaching prose writers about cutting and distilling. Too many people think that poetry is "flowery," when instead the poet has to make every word carry its own weight and form a link between the other words and the image.

Or something like that.