Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

As stated in the discussion title, there is this weirdo who reads cringey poetry at my local session, and nobody kicks him out (partly because there’s no actual host / session leader).

It’s not that I despise poetry or anything. It’s really that I think it sounds bad and out of place at an ITM session. I’m trying to get this dude to take it somewhere else and not to a place where others are trying to play _music_

Any ideas how to get rid of him?

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

You pretty much answered your own question:

“there’s no actual host / session leader”

If you want some control over this sort of thing, assuming it’s happening in a pub or some other business venue, is that one of you has to get delegated authority from the venue ownership to deal with whatever comes up in the session and have that person deal with him know that the venue will back them up.

That person doesn’t have to lead the session, they just need to be the liaison to the venue. It’s not a fun job, so find someone who is willing to be a bad-ass if required.

Otherwise, he’s got as much right to be there as you do, which I’m guessing he’ll tell you if you try to ask him to leave without some backing from the venue management.

Does all the musicians in your session share your opinion of the poet? How about the venue management? If some of them actually like him, then you might have to grit your teeth for a few minutes live with it.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Last sentence in that post had several typos… should have read:

Do all the musicians in your session share your opinion of the poet? How about the venue management? If some of them actually like him, then you might have to grit your teeth for a few minutes and live with it.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

“ … poetry … sounds bad and out of place at an ITM session“

Well you lost me there pal.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Assuming the poetry is not Irish or about Ireland or Irish music, take him aside and diplomatically suggest he do his thing elsewhere. Not hard. If he refuses, you might need to enlist others as a committee to insist he is not welcome. If, however, you are the only dissenting voice, grin and bear it, as Michael suggested.

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Is he coming to the session, as someone who is not otherwise a musician, only to recite poetry? Like others have already said: Find out what the consensus is on his “contribution” and if the group doesn’t appreciate his “contribution” have someone to break the news to him. If you’re a music session, it is not your obligation to provide a space for those who would be better served at a poetry lounge, or an open-mic night. I would argue that this would be like going to a book club as the only musician, to have a set of tunes in the middle of the discussion; Without even having read the book or contributing to the discussion.

This is coming from someone who loves poetry, lyric, monologue, speechcraft, and wordsmithing in general. If the poems were short and sweet(of good quality) and *fit the mood/theme*, I don’t think I would have a problem with the guy/gal. But if we’re talking about irrelevant scripts the length of a 48 bar hip-hop song, then I would certainly have a problem. Get that consensus, and go from there.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

This is so tricky…

On the one hand an ITM session is an ITM session. You wouldn’t expect to turn up and sing a pop song as it ruins the experience for everyone else.

On the other hand, we’re all human and some people have lots going on behind the scenes and seek social links for all sorts of reasons (loneliness, bereavement, staying off addiction etc). I’d want to be very sure someone couldn’t work in a group before I cast them out.

Ultimately you’re in a public place so I think it might be best to accept it. Perhaps a quiet word to see if he could read out poetry that involves Ireland/music would be fine if you don’t like the content?

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

This is a quite specific situation you are describing. Not very elegant if he were to read about it. Or is that the goal?

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Dig out some of William Topaz McGonnagall’s poems and join in? 😉

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

As my favourite catch all answer goes “It all depends on the type of session”.

There are all sorts of arrangements, as we know, and in some situations singers, poets, even other genres of music might be welcome.

You say that it’s an Irish Session but this guy obviously regards it as a more “loose arrangement” and maybe others might too?
So, I think the participants need to endeavour to make the proceedings seem just a little tighter so that it’s really obvious that it is intended to be an instrumental tune session. There are different options, I guess. It could be advertised as such, get a leader, try not to leave too many gaps betweens tunes, sets etc and so on.

On the down side, this might make things seem more exclusive, unwelcoming, less relaxed etc.
I daresay it’s about balance in the end. It might be worthwhile putting up with the occasional “odd ball” to retain the informality and friendliness but it all depends what the majority want.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

We’ve a chap who’s a regular at a session in Dublin and he recites epic poems from memory as long as 5 minutes. Star of the show.

There’s nothing wrong at a session with a little poetry or other entertaining interlude. Very appropriate.

Open sessions/open mic always face the unpredictability factor. Most sessions face the challenge of less welcome contributions from time to time. Often the grin and bear it option is best.

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

“There’s nothing wrong at a session with a little poetry or other entertaining interlude.”

Yes, in most cases I’d agree. It’s good to have a wee rest from playing too.

However, some people either take advantage or don’t realise that they are over imposing.

As for directing poets, singers etc to somewhere more appropriate, many of these people deliberately visit music sessions as they know that their “brief interlude” will usually either be welcomed or, at least tolerated.

I know of many singers who never attend singarounds and the like as they know they’ll “get more songs in” at an instrumental session. So,that seems to be their “mind set” and presumably your “poet” thinks the same way.
It’s probable that they will actually be able to do more at a session than their allotted “turn” and they don’t need to listen to anyone else ethier. They can just enjoy the tunes.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Depends what the poetry is - if it’s his own, tell him to bugger off to a poetry evening. They’re not rare after all - I know of at least 3 local to me. Mind you, they usually charge a token admission for precisely this reason!

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Suggest he leave through the medium of interpretive dance. (Left hook) 😂 *joking*

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Maybe he could be told that it’s a session for a group of instruments playing together in the main. I don’t suppose he would like to be accompanied by instruments while he recites his poems… However, if his contribution isn’t very large, perhaps he could carry on with it (to be kind). It would be different if he was starting to dominate things?

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

My god, my advise to you is:

Not to kick that man out.

Let him read the poetry.

I see that your session is of ITM (Irish Traditional Music). Well, what that man is doing is Irish 100%. I saw it a good few times in Ireland while the musicians were playing in the pub. It happens many times, all the Irish are very used to this.

I must admit that it happens more often that the musicians and everybody in the pub must be quiet because someone wants to sing. But it can also be because someone wants to recite poetry. I can remember well three examples of this:

Pub session in Kinvara (County Galway) in the middle of the day.

Pub session in Spiddal (County Galway) at night (the session of Jonny Connolly RIP).

Pub session in Letterfrack (Connemara, County Galway) at night. The man who started reciting poetry at a very loud voice, did it very late at night and all people in the pub were delighted.

Carrig On Bannow (County Wexford). Pub session in the Phil Murphy Festival. The man was doing a wonderful improvisation.

One thing to note: the Irish take these things so seriously, that they even respect the performances that are not good. They will listen till the end and give a round of applause.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

I’ve been to several sessions in Ireland that regularly have poetry and even joke telling. There is a German gentleman who has recited poems at the Pepper’s session in Feakle for many years. It does seem a bit out of place sometimes, but it’s a crowd pleaser. (Which, at Pepper’s on a Wednesday night, at least in the summer, is often a tour bus full of tourists).

So, the real question may be whether your session draws a crowd, and how they accept the poetry? If you regularly have an appreciative crowd, and they applaud for the poetry as much as they do the music, I wouldn’t necessarily risk upsetting them by shutting the poetry down.

But if that isn’t a concern, and it’s really disruptive, then someone (you?) should have a conversation with the person. It can be a polite conversation, and can just point out that he’s being disruptive to the flow of the session. But also be forewarned that the fact that it has been allowed regularly for a while will likely make the person take it harder, and it may become a bit confrontational…

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Have you tried asking him to sing his poetry to the tune of “Star of the County Down?”

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Wow this thread blew up a lot more than I thought it would…

I’m gonna state that around 50% of the regulars at my local session are not thrilled that this dude reads poetry aloud instead of music. Poetry dude has also been banned from the other session in Roanoke for, surprise surprise, reading poetry. That session does have a host who, thankfully, goes out of his way to pulverize noodlers and other degenerates. To give you an idea of how much people dislike him, one of the other banjo players at the local session pulled me aside and told me he would buy me a 12 pack if I went and decked poetry man. At the present time I have not taken him up on his offer 😅.

So to clarify, he is not the most well liked person. Regular session members are just too polite / unsure if they can do anything about him. I might do what Michael has suggested and work with the venue.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Try giving him an assignment: request that he prepare a recitation at the next session of William Butler Yeats’ “Red Hanrahan’s Song About Ireland” – he’ll get his moment in the limelight, and your session will hear a cracking great Irish poem. Then for the next week, request Behan’s “The Laughing Boy.” After that, ask for Oliver Goldsmith’s “An Elegy On The Death Of A Mad Dog.” After that, James Joyce’s “Night Piece.” Have him recite works by Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, Colette Bryce, Paula Meehan—the list is nearly endless.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

How does his poetry compare to that of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz?
More seriously, I would just go up to him and tell him his poetry is not welcome, because this is a music session. Someone has to do that sometimes.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Any volunteer to compose a poem that Monty Campbell can recite to the Cringe Guy just after one of his performances?

He will be taken by surprise and he will have to retreat in disarray.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

A bit of fun here, but this is a true story. I would think around 20 years ago I was in a session in Mullagh during the Willie Clancy week. This guy walks in to the room, probably nearer 70 than 60 years young, carrying a variety of instruments in two plastic carrier bags, wearing a bright green cap. He pulls out and assembles a flute and off he goes. I loved it, certainly old style repertoire, but old style flute playing, nearer to McKenna’s time than Molloy’s. After about half an hour or so, yer man stands up and does a monologue. Great fun, much appreciated. Back to the music, another 40 mins or so, another monologue, again, well received. More jigs and reels, and a third monologue. By this time, he’s pushing his luck, and a friend of mine - let’s call him “Vinnie” - has had enough. A bit louder than maybe necessary, he opines “What a load of ould sh*te”!, whereupon the little old lady sitting next to him says, “That’s my husband”. “Vinnie” never batted an eyelid, and immediately came back with “Ah sure, he’s great flute player” ! He got away with it - just, but that was the last monologue of the evening.
Now those monologues were well in keeping with the tenor and mood of the music and the occasion, in the musical heart of Ireland, but even then, 3 in an evening was pushing it too far. The OP hasn’t said how many poems they are getting in an evening, but if it’s more than two, then some discussion is required. The same argument could be applied to anyone who came in and insisted on playing solos of tunes not known by anyone else. A session is for everyone playing together, I would say 90% of the time, IMHO. That single factor above all others is perhaps what needs to be explained.
Finally - would anyone care to hazard a guess as to who the Mullagh monologue man was ? There was no disgrace in any of this, it was just too much of a good thing.

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

This is partly about quality and partly about over-politeness. If the poems under consideration were brilliant we probably would not be having this post at all.

Over the years I have started to suspect that there may be particular types of personality who seem to create a particular style of ‘poetry’ often based on rhyming couplets in which almost any rhyme will do. These doggerel poets often get over-encouraged by friends and family. The other kind of ‘poet’ I have occasionally observed is the alarmingly over sentimental - generally slighter older person - generally male - with very personal and emotionally charged writings generally around loss or failed relationships. I find listening to this stuff read out uncomfortable. Maybe it’d just me. Don’t get me wrong - I’m all for creative and therapeutic writing - and I do even choose to read books and stuff - poetry even occasionally - when I’m not trying to play tunes . The problem comes at the peoples’ decisions to share and the manner and location of the sharing. This is equally true of self-composed songs and tunes - songs without words as Mendelssohn might have put it. Poems could be seen as songs without tunes as Ivor Cutler might have put it. There is nothing inherently wrong with having poems in a session - or self-composed songs, or tunes - it just revolves around quality

This takes me to the second factor: over-politeness. Why is it when somebody new comes along to a regular event - a session in this case - and reads out a rubbish poem, or sings a rubbish song - or sings a good song in a rubbish way - or plays a tune very badly - we all say ‘that was very good you must do another’. The floodgates open and we can’t switch the stuff off again. It’s a self inflicted injury.

I am not confusing this with encouraging beginners - people in the early stages of things should be encouraged constructively rather than put off in sessions (a whole different conversation maybe) . But some people simply don’t get it - they have a musical illiteracy or whatever we want to call it. Goodness knows - I am really only an average player myself in spite of the many years I have invested in all this. But I can ‘hear’ what stuff should be like and so I self-censor regularly if I can’t get close enough to it

In my world it’s not ‘cringe guy reads cringe poetry’ very often - thankfully - but I do get versions of classically trained ‘cringe guy thinks Irish music is easy and plays mazurkas as if they were Schubert’ and many variations on this theme

Thank you for listening 🙂

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

I can’t imagine saying, ‘that was very good you must do another’, if I didn’t mean it. Anyone who says something like that when they don’t mean it deserves what they get. It’s possible to be pleasant and polite without being completely misleading.

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

The best thing about this discussion? I was introduced to the poetry of William Topaz McGonnagall. Brilliant!

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

From what Monty writes the ‘cringe guy ’ is not getting an enthusiastic response to his poems and if his performance is met not with wild applause but with an uncomfortable silence broken only by coughing, shuffling of feet and the clinking of glasses from the bar, it can only mean the guy has a malfunctioning embarrassment chip. You know, the sense that you’ve made a massive social gaffe, things are not going well and you’d better just shut up and leave asap - some folks are just totally unaware they are creating any social awkwardness and will just carry on until someone steps in and puts a stop to it.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

You and the venue, especially the venue, need to decide if the event is a music session, or a music session with poetry readings invited too. (which draws more loyal crowds regularly?) There is no way anyone should feel entitled to personally own time at such an event, or run the venue operations, if not in harmony with the wishes of the venue owners/managers and the “session” runners. If the musicians don’t like the guy, that’s a bad vibe. How about the audience? If the word “cringe” is coming up from the musicians, then I have to guess that the person isn’t either a good poet, doesn’t have a public-suited personality, possibly, and the venue is not hosting a poetry reading, which should be stated as happening, if it is, and the guidelines, as sessions do, such as time allotted to each poet.
If you can land a new Wordsworth, people just trying to express themselves sometimes, letting the audience up for, say, reading their poetry for 30 minutes of allotted time before the session begins, could be good fun, if it’s not hijacked. Variety would have to be asserted, no stage hogs. Maybe one evening a month, for that, but not every freaking night. “Poetry Hour - first Tuesday of every month, before a session”.

So either be taken over by some iconoclast, stop the poetry reading, or include poetry reading with some guidelines, which should be printed and posted near the stage. I’ve been to many poetry reading events and they’re magnificent evenings, dedicated to that, often the poets bring along a guitar or some instrument to aid the performance, but it’s a formatted evening and all agree to the guidelines. Doesn’t sound like you’ve got a legitimate poet there. The person may really enjoy the time reading to an audience. Is that so? Do they really watch the audience reaction or are they bombing through it because they’ve got a compulsion they can’t control? Are there any other venues reasonably close doing poetry readings other than some rare events with established poets? Locals invited to read their work? That should be encouraged SOMEWHERE in every town and city. I’d show some compassion for the idea of legitimate poetry reading, but just like with session events, it should be formatted, and not hijacked. Choose, and apply the law.
(put this to music, if you can)
Jimmy Riddle was a cringe-making poet
With no gift for gab, or poetry
But was obsessed with yearning, Tolkien,
The taste of crackers and busy beer steins
Jimmy didn’t get along very well
With other poets; they said his poetry smells
A whistler said his poetry sucks tow-truck anti-freeze
A fiddler said his poetry makes sheep go sterile
The singer was both accurate AND inflammatory
The audience respond by staring at his feet
Riddle needs a warning notice
From “Public Poets Quality Police”
Their number is 1-800-NOT-HERE
If you can catch them with they’re working
Because the Poet Police are often out
At poetry readings at some alehouse
Or do it yourself, for all it matters
Be showing Riddle the context facts
How could Riddle not appreciate that?

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Ask him to recite that great Irish poem by Flann O’Brien:
“My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %
The rest was only words and sound —
My reference is to Ezra £”

Robert,
I would be going for a “Jimmy Riddle” when that one started!

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Go to the local poetry society and start playing the jigs and reels, see how long you got there.

Surely the solution is to check that you’re of the majority opinion and if so have a quiet word that one, or maybe at a push two, poems a night is OK but more is not in the spirit of the evening.

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

They have these local “performance” nights where everything is, apparently, welcome.

There’s one near me which meets monthly and is predominantly frequented by budding poets, story tellers, singer songwriters etc.

Everyone is supposedly welcome including those wishing to play a few tunes and the like.

Except the latter are not really… respectfully tolerated, perhaps, but it’s usually quite clear that one is a “fish out of water” in these circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear to some people who “visit” tune sessions. It seems to be a one way process.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

The term weirdo does not sit very well.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Thank you for the true story, Kenny. I was in Mullagh, exactly 20 years ago, one afternoon during Willie Clancy. If I recall we had driven to my friend’s B & B near Quilty for a few tunes & back up through Mullagh. He wasn’t your man with the green cap & flute. But someone else did have a story. There was a small session (early afternoon) and everyone was quiet for his monologue. I don’t remember the story. I was too hungry.

We were back at the bar getting some food. I do remember the woman behind the bar had lots of plates and dishes which needed to be cleaned. My heart went out to her because she was quite busy & some of the patrons were frowning her way because they thought her too loud during the monologue.

I have no idea who the story teller was. My friend, who lives out Slea Head, heard he was a former owner of the pub. Don’t know.

Speaking of poetry…

Fiona Shaw reads WB Yeats’ Adam’s Curse for Peace Camp.
https://vimeo.com/40654796

Posted by .

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

To repeat previous correspondents, yes, it depends. On the pub, the session and the poetry.
The pub which hosts our local session sometimes does poetry evenings, in the course of which there are a couple of musical interludes, ie, a truncated version of our actual session.
Another pub I go to in Suffolk has “Squit Nights” which are pretty much “anything goes” that could be a bit of Irish trad tunes through to geetar man singing “Blowing in the Wind” and/or self-penned songs, through to poetry. The particular gentleman who recites the mostly self-penned poetry is indeed very witty and entertaining. Certainly more so than me battering out some old reels or than a carnaptious cad continuously and contiguously clattering cutlery. Maybe that’s just my POV. A 12 pack for decking him? - to me that reveals as much about you and your session. If ever I’m in Virginia I know where I won’t be going. And it wouldn’t be down to bad poetry.

Re: Cringe guy reads poetry at the local session

Just an observation: when it comes to any form of art, one man’s meat is another man’s poisson. What I regard as unbearable poetry, music, painting, many people find appealing, so … of course, I’m right and they’re wrong ….

Posted by .