In an interview at Nic Sebastian’s blog, Kathleen Fitzpatrick — who submits poems on behalf of her poet-husband, W.F. Lantry — mentions “the very famous poet who’d stolen his girlfriend away for the evening after a reading. Twice. With two different girls.”
She doesn’t mention whether Lantry’s new-found success as a poet, thanks to her efforts, has made him more attractive to women at poetry readings now than he used to be. But I have to think that merely getting behind a mike and doing a credible job as a reader increases one’s charisma 100-fold. I know this a bit from personal experience, though I hasten to confess that I’ve only ever gotten one solid offer, and turned it down because fundamentally I am still a shy person. But as an audience member, I can think of at least half a dozen times when female poets I hadn’t previously thought attractive were transformed into goddesses by the end of a reading. They had little in common that I can recall other than the fact that their poetry was top-notch, and they read it extremely well.
I’m not sure how exactly this works, but I’m thinking that if we can offer some concrete suggestions, it might do more to combat the epidemic of mumbling and the sing-song style than anything else we might say. Charisma is a mystery beyond the scope of one blog post, but I’m wondering if there are specific reading styles or strategies that render a poet more attractive than others. For example, is it a given that slam-style poets inspire more lust than those with quieter or more cerebral work? What role might body language play? Can a great reading induce selective blindness in regards to untrimmed nose and ear hair, bad teeth, or terribly unstylish eyewear? Is it possible that some audience members will find compulsive chin-stroking, throat-clearing, or audible sniffing at the end of every line endearing? All theories and anecdotes welcome! And we’d like to hear from members of the LGBT community, as well.