Sampled about 45 minutes of the New Stage readings. The stage is new (and a blessed undertaking by a good man named Boaz Rimmer), but the problems are the same as they've ever been -- too little self-criticism, teenage egos, and ignorance.
This is rather bold criticism, based on rather too little a sample. So don't take my word for it. But the poems and prose read there was mostly uninspired, mostly incoherent, and sometimes annoyingly ingratiating. Coupled with mostly bad presentation and verbal delivery, and bad humor covering up shyness and stress, the whole thing was uninteresting at best.
And yet I think this stage as fair as any indy art venue, and I'm really glad it's there, operating regularly, and doing a lot for young artists, if only by exposing them to one another and to one another's works.
I do not imagine young people generally wrote better poems twenty years ago. Not at all. I think Theodore Sturgeon was right in saying "Ninety percent of everything is crap". It's just that today, with the internet, almost everyone can get their work published online, so we are exposed to a lot more material, ninety percent of which is still crap.
I hope they keep it up.