Intern Bob reflects on the fear of poets and the power of authors like Miles David Moore.

Let me state right now, for the record, that I am not a ‘poetry guy.’ We’d cover it in school, I’d take a test, and life would move on. In an attempt to break from the mundane, I decided to attend a local poetry reading, but the image of shaggy-haired hipsters pouring cliches into a microphone remained a very real fear. Luckily I convinced two friends of mine to go with me. These two wouldn’t touch a book with a ten-foot pole even if I assured them it wouldn’t bite, so I counted it as a fairly major victory that I managed to corral them into an area where words – from a page! – would be spoken aloud.

The Iota Club is located in Arlington, Virginia, only a few miles from the D.C. border. Poetry readings are held the second Sunday of every month. This month’s reading was an All Open one, an open floor for amateur and published poets alike. Our host for the evening and the first poet on stage, Miles David Moore, also appears in Issue #50 of the Potomac Review. Mr. Moore was impressive. Look for his poems ‘Duck Stamps’ and ‘Fatslug’s Reply to Mrs. Wei.’ I missed my opportunity to speak to him during the break and ask him a question or two which is too bad since I think ‘Duck Stamps’ in particular is absolutely great.

What followed Mr. Moore was nothing less than a stereotype-shattering chain of readers. Some were serious while others were silly. Some spoke of nature and others of people. Some dwelt in the past while others in the present. A few stuttered through their set, clearly showing nerves, while many brought their poems to life with a steady voice and carefully accentuated phrasing. Most surprisingly, of the twelve poets I saw, perhaps two or three were below forty years old. For example, Doug Wilkinson shambled up on stage and paused to put his reading glasses on before diving into the raunchiest – and most hilarious – poetry I’ve ever heard. The audience seemed around the same age as the poets, which in a place like the Iota Club was strange, to say the least. It was a far cry from what I had envisioned, and I left feeling intrigued not only by the art itself but by this group of people, many of whom seemed to know each other, meet in this dark bar once a month and publicly expose their literary selves. My friends looked a little haunted, and I worry even now that some psychological trauma is nesting in the darkened recesses of their minds.

Since Iota only hosts a reading once a month, the next one won’t happen until September 11th. The good news is that will be the 17th anniversary of the Iota Poetry Reading Series, and all the featured poets from the last year will be there. If you’re in the area, think about stopping by. The reading lasts from 6pm – 8pm, and it’s an active bar as well, so you can have a few drinks and listen to some poetry at the same time! That’s what I call multitasking.