Saturday, 13 April 2013

Action Poetry (Part 2/2)

In a previous post you were introduced to the basics of writing performance poetry and saw some good examples of this artform. Today we will go further into details of getting into this field and further succeeding!

So you have a passion for the art or you're a poet who written lots, how do you get better and more well known?  The answer to this question is style, substance and support.  These three have the potential to take you from relative unknown to having a fan club started in your honour.

Photo courtesy of

This refers to how you write.  The arrangement of your lines.  In performance, the art of poetry must be modified for the EAR because the audience is NOT meant to SEE the script.  This gives some about of latitude for the use of assonance and other phonetic literary tools.  The aim is to have your audience be able to follow the story you are telling so don't be too technical.
NB: Be sure to practice your delivery before performance.  It would be ideal for you to memorize your poem so that you could use your whole body and eyes to convey the message to your audience.

Photo courtesy of Inbound Sales Network

In order to grab the attention of the masses you must talk about something that will resonate with a large cross-section of people or even a niche market.  It is important to know who you are performing to so you can choose appropriate poems and deliveries.  Also, current topics and topics about which you are passionate will likely reflect in favour of your performance.  While you do not want to be too technical and lose your audience, it is important that your content be something that won't easily be forgotten.

Photo courtesy of Apperson

Get out and perform.  How will your work be known if you keep it to yourself?  Find a Open Mic club in your area, or make time to go the distance to those far away maybe once a month, or make YouTube videos of yourself performing.  Do all that you can to put yourself and your work out there.  It is likely your art will benefit from your exposure to others in the field and you will find inspiration.  Another thing you will find are poets to collaborate with.  Find good poets who could compliment your style and substance then make connections; write and perform poems together.

All the great performance poets have these three things in common.  Along with writing ability and passion for the artform; they know they are writing for an audience to hear, they produce memorable content and they all put themselves in the spotlight.

Hopefully you will put these tips to good use 
May the snaps and cheers come ringing through 
At the end of each poem that you perform
So fame will pour down, on you like a storm. 

... withShantelleS

Friday, 11 January 2013

Action Poetry

In the most recent posts, I took a turn at writing poems.  They didn't all rhyme and they weren't all readily understandable.  But! after reading them a dozen times maybe with a dictionary/ thesaurus you figure them out or at the very least get the gist of the message.  They were all in fulfilment of a class assignment but they were also due to a recent surge in interest I have had in this genre of writing and speech delivery.  Today's post will be on Performance Poetry.

Photo of Sarah Kay, Spoken Word Poet
TED Conference (Voted 2011 Best TED Presentation)

Poetry is ...
                  /ˈpəʊɪtri/ literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; a genre of literature.
This is our working definition.  Many things to many people; anyone can conjure up their own definition for poetry but here we will stick to Oxford's.

Performance Poetry is written not for print or reading but to be seen and heard.  The art form has many names: Spoken Word, Stand Up, Dub, Slam; to-may-to/to-mah-to. I will first introduce you to the work of Taylor Mali to open your mind to the wonder of poetry.  This video, "What Teachers Make", is an interpretation of Taylor Mali's poem performed by actors.  Therefore this is a merger between poetry and acting.


A teacher by profession and Page Meets Stage Curator, Taylor has dealt with the situations he describes in this poem.  These are his opinions, this is his burden that he has put to writ and transferred to stage.  In a previous post I tackled the topic of what to write.  While I won't tell anyone what to write I mentioned some of the features of what is considered 'good' literature.  Passion, Plot development, Literary value.  Tell the story that you care about, keep your reader/listener on the edge of the seat and fearlessly use the literary tools that you have.

The next poem is "The Truth Without Photoshop" by P4CM poet Janette...ikz needs no introduction but be warned it will likely draw on your emotions.

The words spoken by Janette...ikz here is truth.  This is her story unapologetically, creatively, hers.  This video shows performance poetry in the manner that it is most often seen; done by the original author, to an audience and without props.

These pieces differ in content and presentation yet are common in that they are poetry in action.  Follow up on these artists and enjoy the world of performance poetry.