This comic showed up in my Facebook feed so let’s talk about it:
People, it is perfectly okay to approach poets, be they on the open mic or the featured poet for that night, and simply say “Good job tonight!” You’ve said it, I’ve said it, I’ve been lucky enough to hear people say it to me after my performances and features. It’s a nice thing to hear.
However, it is not okay to casually heap superlative praise upon someone and then not spend a single penny on their art. When you do that your motive comes into question: do you really like that persons work or are you trying to assuage your own guilt over not being able or willing to buy their book?
Now there have been times when either I did not have the cash on me or the featured poet had some good poems but not enough to spark my interest in buying their book. In those instances I will drop a few bills in the “pass the hat” for the feature if there is one. If I run into the poet later, I’ll keep my praise brief because I believe in keeping the gap between the praise I give and the support I show as small possible.
It is okay if you don’t have enough money or simply don’t want to buy a book. Most poets and writers I know would rather sell 10 copies to genuine fans than sell 100 copies to people who felt obligated or guilt-tripped into buying. If you want to praise a poet after his or her performance, please do! It’s always nice to hear positive feedback. However, do it because you really enjoy their work, not to make yourself feel better about your praise not being in sync with your support.