Thunderclap

Author Topic: Housing Touring Poets: Question about?  (Read 11624 times)

puroshaggy

  • Sonnet
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
    • http://www.puroslam.com
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« on: January 23, 2007, 06:40:16 PM »
I have a question for y'all:
  Since when did it become the responsibilty of a Slam to house its touring
features?

I had a feature scheduled for tonight.  I did the promos, the press releases,  all that jazz, only to have the poet cancel- via email, from a different state-  because I couldn't find a place for him to stay.  I looked, and asked around, and did all I could, but our current housing scene in San Antonio is not good right now and thus, no luck for this particular tuesday.

NOTE: If he had featured next week, I could have put him up.  This week, no such luck.

Anyway, he knew this, we had exchanged emails about this several weeks ago, and everything seemed cool.  Then today- the day of his feature- I receive an email in which he cancels his feature because of "the circumstances I put him in" and he hopes that "next time I will be able to work with him."

I'm pissed and frustrated.  I'm running a slam, not a hotel.  I did my best and couldn't find him a floor to sleep on.  Is that my problem?  Am I a bad
slammaster?  What is going on here??

This kind of stuff makes me want to give up on features altogether.

How do others feel?  Am I being ridiculous?  I toured the country several times years ago and I was thankful when someone put me up.  I never expected it.  What's going on here?

-Shaggy
-one frustrated San Antonio Slammaster

dbodinem

  • Ballad
  • ****
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • http://www.donmciver.net
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2007, 07:22:59 PM »
Shaggy,

That's a tough one.  I think it is sort of mathematics question.  If I pay enough money to the feature to justify a hotel expense and the gas it takes to get there, then I don't think it is my responsibility.  (I guess I don't think it is ever your responsibility) but I wouldn't fault a poet if he/she canceled because they did the mathematics-price of a motel and gas versus how much they can reasonably expect to make.  Since we're not really close to anything, I feel like the only way we can attract features is if we cut down on the cost of getting here and that includes a free place to stay.  

I think the real question might be.  How come no one stepped up to help you out?  I'd be more pissed at the community if no one stepped up when I couldn't.  

Touring is pretty damn pricey and not many people can make it work, so I guess I'm pretty forgiving of a poet if they bail.

I also think an adequate comparison might be to other art forms.  If you book many acts, getting them a place to stay (usually a hotel) is part of the promoters responsibility not the act.
on McIver
2002-2004 ABQ Slam Team
ABQ Slammaster
NPS 2005 Media Director

puroshaggy

  • Sonnet
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
    • http://www.puroslam.com
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2007, 07:26:24 PM »
>>>I think the real question might be. How come no one stepped up to help you out? I'd be more pissed at the community if no one stepped up when I couldn't.

Not at all.  I ask a lot- A LOT- of this community, and they come through 99.9% of the time.  Its January, its been 35 degrees in Texas for two weeks, school just started, and people are stressed.  Yes, I could have made people feel guilty and probably found floor space, but that's not my style.

No, this community rocks.  This should not reflect on them.  This was one week at the wrong time.

dbodinem

  • Ballad
  • ****
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • http://www.donmciver.net
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2007, 07:40:45 PM »
Then I guess you could chalk it up to bad timing.

I know it sucks, but I don't think anybody's really wrong here.  Its just the nature of our business.

Most slams don't pay enough to ask poets to shell out for a hotel, nor do most slams have relationships or make enough to pay for a hotel themselves.

I've been wanting to cultivate a relationship with a hotel just for features and haven't been able to navigate it.

I think its something we really need to talk about as slam masters.  What is a reasonable expectation for traveling poets?  Are traveling poets an important part of our show?  Who's doing who the favor?  

I certainly don't want to have poets I want to come here, say, like musicians, "We want two suites, with..."  

Nor do I want poets to cancel because I couldn't find them a hotel.

What's the answer?
on McIver
2002-2004 ABQ Slam Team
ABQ Slammaster
NPS 2005 Media Director

Bob Whoopeecat Stephenson

  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 1567
    • View Profile
    • The Poetry Grind
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2007, 01:43:18 AM »
We offer poets a place to stay when it is doable.  99.9% of the time it is.  I offer my own home most of the time.  I'll let the poets that have stayed here offer their opinions on the hospitality.

The reason I do this is so the poet can keep expenses down, and the amount of money we pay for their feature is actual compensation without the extra expense.  It helps in getting poets booked.  I am choosey about who I book.  I feel I can be given they are a guest in my home and poetic home.  If housing isn't available and a poet can't take care of it on their own, they need to be responsible in giving you fare notice of cancellation or rescheduling so you can arrange for another feature and inform your community.  

I have also known and considered a small services contract for performances that covers the particulars including housing.  It may be a requirement for both parties in the future.
Whoopeecat
Slam Master
Dallas-Poetry Grind

Steve

  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 11346
    • View Profile
    • The Wordsmith Press
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2007, 01:43:58 AM »
A relationship with a hotel is the answer, as Don indicates. But I have put every feature up at my house who asked for a space. Sometimes I'm very, very happy to do that. Sometimes I end up regretting it. But Ann Arbor doesn't pay enough to a feature to expect them to come in without a place to stay if they need one. It ends up being another thing on the host's shoulders, but that's what it is.

I will say that when I featured in Milwaukee, Dasha Kelly put me up in a motel and I felt honored. When I featured in CT, the host put me up in her house in her own bedroom while she and her husband slept in another room of the house, and I felt very honored. When I featured in NY, the host put me up in his mother's house in the room he lived in as a boy and I felt extremely honored. Often, if I am within driving distance, I don't stay and when someone offers a place to crash, I still feel honored.

I think the issue Shaggy may be grumbling about here is the sense of entitlement.

As I said, I love having poets in my home. Right until they stay three days, eat all my food, run up my phone bill and leave hair in my shower drain. Then I'm happy to drive them to the train station and wave good bye. If you are doing the couch surfing gig across America, be sure you honor your hosts by being (not just acting) thoroughly grateful for thier hospitality. That's how many of us can continue to do this thing. (Both the travelling AND the hosting.)

simone

  • Moderator
  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 1234
    • View Profile
    • Boston Poetry Slam
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2007, 09:58:34 AM »
I agree with the previous posts here about housing features; if a poet is touring far from home, they almost certainly are not being paid enough to get a hotel. I've certainly found myself stuck far from home with no place to stay after a show and only $50 (minus dinner and tips) in my pocket. It kind of sucks.

As a SlamMaster, when I book a feature, I ask them if they will be looking for a place to stay, and warn them that unless they are unbearably cute and/or at least one audience member is thoroughly drunk, it might be difficult to get a bed on short notice. I try to house every touring poet who asks (bed, couch, or floor, depending on how many I have crashing that week), but I understand that not everyone has the luxury of the room to do so.

I don't have a lot of pity for poets who tell me they are all set a month or a week before, then call me morning of panicked because they didn't set up housing, despite having had plenty of time to plan.

Similarly, I think it's totally inappropriate for the poet to cancel on the day of the feature. If, for whatever reason, there's no place to stay and they know that's a necessity, they should cancel then. Any last-minute cancellation puts the host in a tough spot.

--simone
Simone Beaubien
SlamMaster, Boston Poetry Slam

mobrowne

  • Executive Council
  • Sonnet
  • ***
  • Posts: 244
    • View Profile
    • http://www.mobrowne.com
touring incidentals
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2007, 10:07:32 AM »
i understand both points of views, as a touring poet of 5 years, and new slammistress. though it is considered another level of hospitatlity - it is NOT the slammaster's job to house poets. period.
i think the best you can do, as a slammaster, is pass along any information you may know. but also, find a cheap hostel or hotel in the area and provide a ride to said resting quarters.

your primary job is to keep the slam moving, book incredible and inspiring features to hold standard for the spirit of the slam - and never let them see you sweat :)

all the best!
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Over 40 Years of Poetry
New York City, New York


get over it -- miguel algarin

Delrica

  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 5492
  • Follicles, mayne!
    • View Profile
    • http://www.4luvofpoetry.com
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2007, 10:23:38 AM »
We have a core group of hosts who we try to assign lodging responsibilities to (self included).  And because of that, we've been fortunate that we haven't had to say to a touring poet, "sorry...we don't have a place for you to stay."

But it can be tough to do that sometimes.

Not saying this hasn't been explained properly, but how are you asking your locals for support? Do they understand that the person will just need floor space, a pillow and a blanket?  Or does your community think that they need to have a separate bedroom with shower, etc.? Because misperceptions may be a reason why people aren't stepping up to help out.  There's also the "I don't know this person well enough to leave them alone in my home" deal as well.  Something to consider is making sure that it's clear at the onset that when the housing host leaves, so does the guest.  Give them a cheat sheet of all the interesting "free" touristy places to check out during the day along with a list of some cheap places to eat so they can capitalize on their experience in your city.

If the feature isn't down with that and just wants to chill on the couch...you might want to take a leap of faith.  But if all of the details of said poet's lodging is put out there at the beginning, then there's no room for miscommunication and/or misinterpretation of how this is going to go down.

Thanks again for bringing the discussion over here as well as the unofficial list-serv, Shaggy.
*The views expressed by Delrica are not that of PSi nor the Executive Council. Her gems are her own...deal with it*

puroshaggy

  • Sonnet
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
    • http://www.puroslam.com
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2007, 10:56:54 AM »
In re Steve's response, my main concern in posting this does have to do with frustration over a certain sense of entitlement that was implied, if not outright expressed, in this incident.  I do think poets are entitled to expect a well-run show, payment as discussed, and a slammaster willing to do all they can do to find lodging or at least information for cheap, safe housing.  But when a slammaster does all they can do and informs the poet of that well in advance, the responsibility squarely falls on the poet's shoulders to handle the situation professionally and respectably, and I felt that that wasn't the case here.  I was made to feel guilty for not finding housing and the implication clearly was that I was somehow a lesser slammaster for that.
   So I appreciate all the responses and it helped me reply to the said poet.  He was under the assumption that we had discussed housing back in July when the feature was originally booked, and when I reviewed all the emails we exchanged, I saw that it definitely was not discussed. (I file all correspondence just in case, and in this case I am glad I did). Our slam website clearly states- explicitly states- that if you want a floor to crash on you mush explicitly ask.  This poet did not ask BUT he assumed that housing was a part of the equation. SO POETS-> never assume anything when you book a feature.  I think that's a lesson hopefully the poet learned.  
   The lesson I learned is to make sure all my features read our website or at least receive a copy of the info posted there.  He contacted me through the site so I naturally assumed he read it all, but apparently some things did not register.
   Anyway, it was a lesson learned for me and I hope this discussion continues because I am interested in everyone's responses and experiences.  Thanks y'all!

bobdapoet

  • Ballad
  • ****
  • Posts: 748
    • View Profile
    • Anthology, inc.
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2007, 11:17:06 AM »
Shaggy-

   We here in Mesa have never had a real issue with housing, pretty much for the same reason you say, the community steps up to the plate. I have had a couple "close calls", and your message here and the subsequent responses have led me to a couple conclusions.

   Discussing lodging is awkward, and can be uncomfortable, but it should be met head on. I've already added to my "to-do" list to add local hotel info and additional lodging info to the websites for both the Mesa and Phoenix slams, to let poets have at the rescources they may need and give them some control.

   Many, Many poets are proactive in handling their lodging needs, they set up a hotel room, or they join the local email list and ask for a couch, or they just ask me, which never bothers me.

   Some poets really just don't know, and I understand that, and that's why I'll act as a coordinator of sorts and try and hook them up. For a poet to negotiate a feature and not have settled that issue before agreeing to the feature is a little challenging, and I think you are correct to be frustrated by it.

Delrica

  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 5492
  • Follicles, mayne!
    • View Profile
    • http://www.4luvofpoetry.com
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2007, 12:03:30 PM »
Since we're grumbling about crashing poets.

SMs, please give a touring fact sheet to your poets and put on there: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN TOILETRIES.

I had a feature who didn't travel alone and I left them in my home to get ready for their next gig while I went to work.

I came home to take a relaxing shower only to find that my toiletries (soap, scented soap, shampoo) had all been used and my bar soap had been reduced to a bar of hair that wasn't my own.

Needless to say...that was disposed of post haste.

If you are touring, please invest in a small travel kit that houses (at the very least): soap, toothbrush, shaving cream (if you're a shaver), lotion and things like that.

True, your host may have those things, but they aren't rich either.

*venting done*
*The views expressed by Delrica are not that of PSi nor the Executive Council. Her gems are her own...deal with it*

dbodinem

  • Ballad
  • ****
  • Posts: 993
    • View Profile
    • http://www.donmciver.net
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2007, 01:17:03 PM »
I never assume anything on touring poets.

I'm pretty direct:

This is what we pay, this is the readings we can try and coordinate with and what they pay, and will you need a place to stay and for how long.

Very business like.
on McIver
2002-2004 ABQ Slam Team
ABQ Slammaster
NPS 2005 Media Director

Delrica

  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 5492
  • Follicles, mayne!
    • View Profile
    • http://www.4luvofpoetry.com
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2007, 01:42:44 PM »
Quote from: "dbodinem"
I never assume anything on touring poets.

I'm pretty direct:

This is what we pay, this is the readings we can try and coordinate with and what they pay, and will you need a place to stay and for how long.

Very business like.


Yup. Our confirmation letter states all o' dat.
*The views expressed by Delrica are not that of PSi nor the Executive Council. Her gems are her own...deal with it*

Steve

  • Epic
  • *****
  • Posts: 11346
    • View Profile
    • The Wordsmith Press
Housing Touring Poets: Question about?
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2007, 02:11:51 PM »
I took a tip from Taylor Mali and began to send out a letter of confirmation that functioned a bit like a contract. It contained all pertinent information. (I kept a blank form letter and just added the details.) Date, time, location, amount and method of payment, housing, perks (like the fact that we used to pay for a meal for the feature at the venue, etc.) And the last line always said, please send me a note that your have read and understand this.

Saying things explicitly upfront solved a lot of problems. I don't book features in Ann Arbor any more, so I don't know if Erik still does that or not, but it worked for me whne I was doing it.