To clap or not to clap…

by Sally Goldsmith

Now folks, today’s question is – should we clap at poetry readings?

I’ve just launched my poetry collection at three very different  venues and also been a punter at the smallest poetry festival in the world.  At the first launch event, a huge affair with Ian McMillan but attended by lots of poets and academics,  people laughed but didn’t clap – apart from when I sang a rude song. At the second, a small affair in the back room of a pub in Huddersfield, again people only clapped at the end of a song – but they were all poets apart from two friends – one a musician who was astounded that the convention was that people didn’t clap. “That must be very hard” he said.  At a lively launch in the library on our road – attended by lots of people who don’t normally go to poetry events – people clapped everything. It was great. At the tiny festival in Litton, encouraged i think by John Hegley, who is also of course a musician, people also clapped everything.

But the convention is , isn’t it, that at serious poetry events people don’t clap? I LOVE being clapped – but then I did come at poetry from being a singer/songwriter.

Why don’t we? Isn’t it good to show appreciation? Is it all so holy that we shouldn’t?