Big thanks, Kristina,…

Big thanks, Kristina, for the suggestion of recording myself -- it really does seem to help. I downloaded a free voice recording program, Audacity, from the Apple website, and it's working fine. In thanks, here's a recording of Under the Skin for your listening pleasure. (It's a .wav file; hope that works okay for y'all.)

I'm actually having a surprisingly hard time deciding what to wear. I mean, my physical presence is undoubtedly going to be a part of the performance -- do I dress sexy? normal? normal-dressy? grungy? I could see all of those options having different effects in interaction with the poem. I think I've mostly decided to wear jeans, but do I wear Kevin's old jeans that are baggy and comfortable and shapeless, the jeans I schlep around in most of the time, or my jeans, the ones that are very fitted and hug every curve and which compress my tummy? A loose black turtleneck for the classy, I'm-not-really-trying look? A thin black t-shirt, showing more brown skin in keeping with the poem? White button-down shirt? There are too many options, and I'm bewildered.

Also more than a little terrified. I slept badly last night, kept waking up. I've done a lot of readings, but I haven't been on stage with anything memorized in over a decade. What if they don't respond? What if they respond at the wrong places (or the right ones) and throw me off? What if I freeze? Kevin suggested bringing a copy of the poem with me in a back pocket, just in case. I could do that, but oh, I'd feel like such a dork pulling it out. Still, perhaps it's better than the option of just totalling flailing on stage.

Five pages memorized (we're up to "Hardly a reliable fallback position", which I hope is a funny line and gets a laugh), two to go. And then lots and lots of rehearsing.

It's funny, memorizing my own material. I'm not sure I've ever really done this before, and I find myself really enjoying some stanzas, being not so enamored with others. I'm not sure that the ones I'm savoring are actually better, but they do perform more easily, flow straight from brain to mouth without pause or hesitation. Maybe they are better. Maybe, when I try to write performance poetry in the future, I really ought to memorize it, or at least recite it a lot out loud, before locking down its final form.

It feels slightly sacrilegious too, memorizing my own stuff. What, in the past, has been reserved for great poetry, like "Jabberwocky," is now applied to my own poor efforts. Disconcerting.

I did invite y'all to this show, didn't I? Tonight, in Chicago, details here.

2 thoughts on “Big thanks, Kristina,…”

  1. having taken a “slam” poetry class years ago (from Marc Smith no less – very cool), I think that “slam” poetry does differ from written poetry in some ways.

    For one, intending a poem to be heard, to be spoken aloud, means that some elements of a written poem are unavailable – structure on the page, subtle plays on words (mostly) etc.

    On the other hand, a performed poem makes punctuation and natural pauses and phrasings very important. As well, it lets the poet play with sound conventions – perhaps echoes of other sounds, perhaps just tones of voice (even different voices), but certain it makes a poem a bit more than “just” words on the page – it can turn it into a conversation, dialogue.

    I’ve also heard, at least in the past, “slam” poems that echoed conventions of songs, especially to a point “folk” songs that have repeating choruses, often slam poems will have phrases that echo throughout the poem, that bring the poem back to some central point.

    (at least that was my observation about 13+ years ago, the conventions of the form may have changed since then)

    By memorizing it you have the opportunity to engage with your audiance, to pause, to look up and at them. I wish I could memorize my own poems – not something I do easily.

    Not sure if we can make it tonight or not – hope to but it’s up to Julia. 🙂 If not, break a leg!

    Shannon

  2. You’re welcome, Mary Anne!!

    Under the Skin sounds even better than it reads. I don’t think it’s going to matter what you wear because it’s going to be your voice they remember. Simply lovely.

    Good luck.

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