Emergency personnel were called to the site of a poetry reading in Montauk last week after it seemed that the members of the audience had lost consciousness.
“We arrived to find the poet in a panic because he couldn’t rouse the people in the seats,” Herb Dichter of the Hamptons Ambulance said, recalling the disconcerting scene. “He thought maybe there was a carbon monoxide situation going on.”
Emergency workers initially shared the poet’s concern, as the audience members appeared to be insensible to sound and not reactive to touch. However, when doctors began pouring cold water over the subjects, they did begin to stir.
“It turns out they were just sound asleep,” Dichter said. “Apparently, the poet (who wished to remain anonymous) was reading a pretty epic thing he’d written. He thought they were listening in rapt silence, but he’d managed to put them pretty well out.”
Hamptons Ambulance and Hamptons Police Department logs reveal this is not a new phenomena on the East End. After exhaustive research going back to 1897, DansPapers.com has learned that at least once every few years, from 1897 to last week’s incident, a local poet—even the lauded ones—have ended up in a similar predicament.
There was no specific rhyme or reason to which poets send massive numbers of people into slumber. It all appears to be subjective and due to that perfect storm combining the right crowd, the right (or wrong) words and the poet’s specific vocal range, or lack thereof.