How to Run a Poetry Night: Managing

A series on how to plan and run a successful poetry night. This essay looks at how to manage properly and why it is important.

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© 2018 Epytome / Used With Permission

Follows: Hosting

Dealing with people may well be the most complicated part of being a Producer, but it’s also the most vital. It’s hard to change the way you behave with people, it’s much easier to have an approach from the outset or people will insist on pushing their luck.

1. Don’t sleep with your acts

This is a workplace; you don’t want people feeling like they have to hook up with you to get a slot. A reputation is easy to make and hard to change, a bad one doubly so.

2. Stay away from drama

Your job is not to be involved in disputes, it is to deliver the best night possible.

3. Give second chances

Life happens—no one can keep control of everything, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. It sucks when it’s your night, but being hasty to get people on a blacklist can lead to you running out of poets rather quickly.

4. Don’t give fifth chances

There comes a time when you have to start being wary about booking certain people. Your slots have a value and, if someone is a perennial drop out, they’re taking chances away from other poets.

5. Know your value

There is nothing wrong with charging a ticket price. You should be putting in effort to promote the gig, and that effort means you should be paid and treat this like a job.

6. Don’t charge your artists

Pay-to-play is scummy; your artists make the show.

7. Keep learning

Watch other hosts and poets, see who captures audiences. and learn what they do to ensure that. Learn and study—don’t assume you know everything.

8. Value everyone who comes to the event

Turn up early, greet everyone, shake hands, tell them you’re excited. Don’t turn up ten minutes before the show, flustered, and off your game.


Running an event doesn’t mean simply running an event. There is an assumed code of conduct that people should follow when acting as Producer. Managing events and poets professionally will always work in your favour.


Next: Booking

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Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.

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