Thursday, 19 July 2012

Daedalean Exchange

There's been some great advice on the blog this week.  I can get behind everything the smarty-pants on here have shared, especially the merits of enjoying your audience and memorising the words.  In addition, I have a few tips for performance which I have picked up at workshops, from fellow poets and through practice:

  • Walk through your poem - pace as you read it in practice.  This will allow you to find the natural breaks and rhythm of the piece. (courtesy of Sarah Hymas)
  • Ensure that you are well hydrated (beer works) before you read.  There's nowt worse than spitting feathers and struggling to get the words out.  This happened to me in January and I looked rather strange constantly licking my lips in a vain attempt to lure my salivary glands into action.
  • Visualise the images in your poem and make sure those images are clear for the audience.  These will act as hooks for the minds of your audience when they try to understand and remember what you said. (courtesy of Ann the Poet)
  • Slow down.  Don't be afraid to be.  When you appear behind the microphone the air is heavy with expectation.   Allow that moment to hang.  Use it to collect yourself, to consider what you are about to perform.  Feel your way into the poem.  Let the emotive thread unfurl naturally.  Deliver every sound from your lips with love.  These are your word, painstakingly crafted, meaningful, exquisite.  Push them out into the room with confidence.  Bring them to life in your voice in the same way they live for you on the page.  
  • Love the audience.  Respect the relationship you have with that room full of people in that moment.  They are giving you a small portion of their life in the hope that you will fill it with a little piece of your own filtrations.  This is a valuable gift.  Look into the faces of your fellow poetry lovers and thank them for opening up to your words.  The easiest way to do this is by speaking your truth in your way and unashamedly.  Audiences don't want what's gone before, they want you.  They want your truth.  Respect them.  Give them that truth.
 The theme for this Friday's event at the No 5 cafe in Blackpool is 'Games'.  I am yet to write a word.  It should be noted that the advice above is only useful if you do, in fact, have a poem to read at a poetry event.  In the words of Alice in Wonderland (Disney), "I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it." 

Pinch of salt and all that. 

By the by - I'm taking my daughter and her friends to a comic convention on Saturday.  We are all dressing up. Raven will be Lacie from Pandora Hearts. I'll be going as American McGee's Alice. I feel like the proverbial duck waddling into an arena full of Cosplay fans.  If anyone knows of any top tips for surviving at these things I would be most grateful if you'd post them below.  Thank you.


Ashley R Lister said...


Excellent post. The content of this week's blog could be part of a manifesto for how to perform good poetry.

I'll have a word with Ash when he's back from work to find out if he has any cosplay hints. He went to some Final Fantasy shennanigans at the Albert Hall last year.


vicky ellis said...

Thanks Ash. Of course I'll be embarassing my daughter and her friends whatever I do. Well, I hope so - otherwise what's the point?

Lindsay said...

*Scribbling this weeks tips into my notebook.

Missing the first two years of the degree because I studied the Comms FD has left me feeling like I have severely missed something writing wise, and I feel that I am constantly lapping up writing advice and teaching because of it. These tips are priceless.

I'd LOVE to go to a comic con one day. No advice though because I've never been to one :( Jelly. Good choice of costume though :)

vicky ellis said...

Either I'm imagining it or the word 'jelly' appears in the second paragraph of that comment... Is it a subliminal attempt to get me to have pudding today because I've got to tell you, I don't need the push ;)

Lindsay, Raven wants to go to more of them so I'll drop you a line next time we're going shall I? The more awkward adults the merrier I say :)

Lindsay said...

It's an internet weirdie way of saying jealous, trust me to try and be 'down wiv da kidz' haha.

Sounds like a plan, don't know if I'd be brave enough to dress up but if I did I'd seriously consider going as The Captain from Romantically apocalyptic (no-one would see my face you see). Embarrassing adult factor infinity. :)