What Are the Different Types of Poetry Readings?

Dorothy Bland

Some poetry readings are literary or academic in nature and include poetry performances that famous bards may give in support of works that they have had published. Poetry conferences are another setting where reading of poetry is done. These conferences often combine reciting poetry with lectures and creative writing exercises to help nurture understanding of literature. Poetry readings can also include poetry festivals that attract large crowds and give developing poets a chance to interact with their local communities and gain press coverage. Other types of poetry readings include open mic events, poetry slams, and readings that take advantage of multimedia.

Love poems can be presented at a poetry reading.
Love poems can be presented at a poetry reading.

One of the more established forms of poetry readings are those provided for entertainment purposes. These events are sometimes called open mic events and are held to help local poets gain more attention and to attract an audience to the establishment that is holding the poetry event. Usually coffeehouses, bookstores, or local poetry organizations sponsor these events. Rules differ on what is allowed at such events, but many open mic poetry readings allow artists to incorporate costumes, music, or other props while they recite a verse. Usually these events run on a scheduled date or time, such as once a week.

Many poetry readings are held for entertainment purposes.
Many poetry readings are held for entertainment purposes.

In the mid-1980s, poetry slams rose up in attention and quickly caught on as one of the most popular types of poetry readings. Poetry slams are competitions where poets recite their own original poetry in front of a live audience. These slams are held at various locations, including college campuses and libraries. Instead of having the poetry being appraised by a scholar, professor, or some other type of critic, however, the competition is judged by members of the audience. Judges give out a numeric score after each performance, and those with the lowest overall scores are eliminated after each round of the competition. The contest continues until all the competition is removed and a winning slam poet is declared.

Slam poetry events are held on a local basis in cities and college towns around the world. Poets can also participate in national and international slam events that are held annually. Generally, slam contest allow poets a great range of freedom in the type of poetry that can be performed. Writing may cover poems that protest war, those that document daily life, or simple love poems.

Poetry readings are not just limited to events held in person. Some proactive poets have shared their poems online through podcasts or by hosting poetry readings through their personal video blogs. A number of online poetry readings are simply video recordings from live performances of well-known poets from around the world. Other poem readings, however, use interactive elements to help the poetry resonate with a diverse online audience. Animated texts and drawings along with cartoon representations of the poet may be used to make the poetry more interactive.

Poetry conferences often combine poem recitals with creative writing exercises.
Poetry conferences often combine poem recitals with creative writing exercises.

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Discussion Comments


Poetry readings in NYC were some of the best that I've been to, the Writers Block Poetry Parties specifically.

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