Show time!

a drawing of a guy reading poetry

Show Time

Today I want to give you some tips on the art of reciting poetry. Whenever I go to a Poetry recital, usually the poet is not reciting at all he is simply reading his poem from the paper. When you do that you are concentrating on the text and not on your audience. You also are not giving yourself the opportunity to pick out where and when you will put emphasis on a line, or the tone and timber of your voice as you recite the text. These are all things that you should be considering as you commit your poem to memory and prepare for recital.

All poetry has a natural cadence to it. However that cadence is not enough. Actors spend hours trying to get to know there characters, practicing important lines and working on the proper delivery for those lines. Get in the habit of saying your lines out loud and looking for the perfect way to deliver. This will not only help with your recital but help you shape the spacing of your lines and where you put your breaks in the future.

Picture in your head the white strips. A band composed of a drummer and a guitar. If you shifted your focus from the individual sounds of the instruments, you can hear two distinct sounds become one, the harmony of two instruments becoming one. You should think of your delivery along the same lines. The cadence and the sounds of the words are one instrument the way you shape those syllables and emphasis certain words is the other. Strive for harmony between the two parts. No matter how well you have memorized your lines always, always, always have a copy of your poem on you. You never know how you are going to react when you are preforming in front of an audience. Actors forget their lines all of the time, they commonly take the liberty of ad lib it when this happens. You unfortunately do not have this luxury because every single word in your poem is irreplaceable.

Make sure you are speaking from your diaphragm so that your voice is rich and carries. This is what singers typically do. If you feel like you are speaking from the back of your throat you are doing it wrong. This will also help your elocution.


5 thoughts on “Show time!

  1. I’ll have to admit I’m not much of a poetry person, and I have a feeling what you are speaking to is probably the reason why. The few readings I’ve been to have been incredibly boring. I think in the four or five I’ve been to, I actually enjoyed one of them. Good points, I’d say…but that’s coming from a non-poetry type person…so what do I know.

  2. I took a speech class where I was in the 2% of didn’t read off of a paper and it was so boring. I was amazed at how amazed people where that I didn’t need to read off of a paper and could still make it into the time limits. I can’t imagine people doing poetry of off a piece of paper, snooze fest?

  3. I’m not into poetry but I’ve gone to poetry readings that either my friends were in or encouraged me to go to, I must say I agree with the fact that a lot of them seem to bury their noses into the paper that has their poems on it instead of speaking to their audience.

  4. I have never been to a poetry reading but I have watched them on tv and movies…probably not the same thing but something to relate to. If I even attempted to write poetry people would cringe at my reading it. But, I am curious now and if I go to a poetry slam I will be able to critique the person on stage on their poem reading ability : )

  5. I like how you talk about harmony between cadence and the way the words sound- I’ve never heard poetry discussed in that way. I’ll admit that when I see slam poets perform I notice that they have a beautiful way of saying the words, almost like a song. It makes a little more sense now how speakers break down the flow of the words so they sound as beautiful as they look.

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