Forming a poetry clique is a difficult thing to master. Staying in one is slightly harder. This is a part of poethood that many poets fall short in. They sit there, cursing that joke too many and staring at their peers all hanging out in well-adjusted poetry cliques. But don’t worry, if you follow our simple guide you too can make small talk with poets for hours.
Potential topics of conversation for the initial infiltration
The weather – This might work on commoners in a supermarket queue (piffle!), but Poets (that rare and sexy breed) are more discerning. If you talk about the weather you must mean it ironically/dramatically. Nobody cares if it’s raining, unless the rain is pinching your soul.
Mentioning other poets – Mention John Donne to the wrong person and their face turns into an alarm clock of emotions. Mention him to the right person and you’re life-long buddies. Same goes for any other poet sentenced to a stint on the Leaving Cert (i.e. Dead Irish male poets and a few stand-out women thrown in for the giggles). The point is mentioning Plath or Heaney or Donne, is downright risky. You risk being held in poetic contempt by your peers.
We recommend name dropping semi-obscure poets that nobody knows of and therefore their reaction will simply be to nod-and-smile at you and furiously google them later. To make this convincing pick a continent and focus on either its really old, dead poets or its contemporary poets.
Unrequited love and sex – As far as The Poet is concerned these are exclusive perks to their trade. Mention your various love disasters while fondling your beard to gain immediate inclusion. Similarly, referencing how erotic poetry has transformed your sex life will gain you poetry friends.
Note: unrequited sex will land you in jail, so the unrequited bit is limited to love only.
Finding the right clique
Note: It is unseemly to hang out with poets outside of your poetic genre, it’s also much harder to gain access to their cliques.
Page Poets – These poets should ideally spend their evenings on social media composing acrostics that throw shade on rival cliques.
Spoken Word Poets – This hodgepodge of confused rappers and the emotionally unstable gather in abandoned warehouses, allowing the acoustics of the venue to reinforce their verbal riffs about those not present.
Bitter Poets – If you’re a particularly bitter poet we recommend you avoid hanging out in large poetry groups. You should always be alone.
Hard-ass Poets – There is a particular breed of poet that stands around looking terrifying. They can be found at all venues and don’t discriminate. If there’s free wine, they are there. It’s easy to get in with these folk, however we don’t recommend it because it comes with excessive drug abuse and experimental verse aka sound poetry. If you’re interestingly pierced, or emotionally wounded and in need of protection, you might find yourself staring longingly at the hard-ass poets who are scratching their names into the wall at your local poetry reading, while chugging vodka. Stare no more, simply approach them and ask them to pierce you both literally and metaphorically.
Make sure your clique is actually beneficial to your poetry career
Publish your friends – If you want to be in a clique – then these people WILL become your life. In order to make them stay in your life (these cliques are fickle) you need to start making poetry pamphlets/zines/websites of questionable quality. These sites/pieces of paper serve as friendship contracts. Encourage your clique to make their own sites/pamphlets so you can increase the number of places in which you’ve been published.
Publish potential sexual conquests – See that hot-slice of life scribbling in a notebook, they probably write poems. The easiest way to impress a future sexual conquest is to give their poem a cushy little home. Then you can invite them to the launch and drool over their use of the comma. It does not matter whether you like their poems because they’re hot or you think they’re hot because you like their poems.
Note: If you do run a magazine and are receiving submissions, make sure to internet stalk all submissions. This way you won’t turn down any potential sexy-time partners.
Befriend those of an equal or higher importance – You don’t want to be in a dud clique or sitting in the corner with a poet that is known for his obsession with Haikus about frogs. This can happen if you don’t take your time researching other poets before making your poetic moves. It’s important to consider the following when forming a lasting poetry clique: Could they publish you? Do they have the vital “friend of a friend” who can make your dreams come true? Are they sexy?
Clique-etiquette: once you’ve formed your clique it’s time to engage in clique activities
Social media cliquing – Set up fake twitter accounts and harass everyone who is not in your clique – this might go as far as staging an elaborate fake magazine, or threatening to kill the others. Poets aren’t fussy and only the great cliques can survive the satire. The use of satire should be employed liberally and with little thought for the feelings or boundaries of others. It is occasionally important to fake harass your friends so nobody suspects you’re behind the fake account. You should then go to poetry events and talk loudly about the Poetry Twitter War. Other poets will want to be you.
Bitch about other poets constantly in hushed tones – this is a bonding exercise best fuelled by alcohol. Find out who are the poets that everybody hates – this is a safe place to start.
Develop a cult-like hatred of all the same poems/other poets – There will be no debate within a poetry clique, this will lead to people taking your secrets and selling them to the other clique to gain entry. When in doubt just remember that poets are petty. You’re not paranoid, that heavy-handed reference in that poet’s open mic performance *was* about you.
Maximising your cliques effectiveness at readings – At readings your clique should spread out to collect information on other cliques. This is a useful thing to do in case of poetic unrest arising in Ireland. You will be indispensable to your clique if you figure out the general weaknesses and loved ones of the OTHER poets
Plead ignorance to the clique – The first rule of poetry cliques is that nobody mentions the poetry clique. The most important part of being in a poetry clique in Ireland is to constantly reject the idea that you are in a poetry clique. Convince yourself first (or you won’t fool anyone – try hypnotic verse, it worked for us) and then vocally attack any and every poet you suspect of being in a clique. Nobody will suspect a thing.