As a poet, I have a strong belief that poets and writers in general can benefit greatly from reading their work aloud. For my recent blog tour, I wrote a post on this very subject. You can find my post “The Music of Poetry” on Kayleigh Grian’s blog. Because it’s all out there already I won’t bore you with bring it that up again.
What I’d really like to get into is the idea of public speaking in general for writers. I’ve never been great at doing this. I would do whatever I could to not do presentations throughout my years in school and I failed a speech class because I like to wing it way too often (keeps people on their toes…but also makes the speech way too short, haha). But once I found a topic that I know inside and out, I was able to break out of that shell. I was able to get up in front of an audience and do my thing.
What am I comfortable talking about in front of a crowd? My poetry! I was reluctant to do this until I NEEDED to in order to graduate college. In my last semester, when going for my creative writing degree, there was a course in which we created a manuscript all semester as well as organized a public reading for the group (half of the class) we were in. It was actually a fun experience to set everything up and market the event all over campus and the internet. It was during this reading that I realized that the audience isn’t that hard to please. All that needed to be done was to stand up there, read my work, and be true to it. So that’s what I did.
I know that it sounds easier than it is, I admit that. But it gets better. It also helped that I had a good amount of my friends in the crowd of maybe 30-40 people. There were also a few viewers watching the live stream we set up on a laptop. It added a little pressure to have that. This was also the first time I was to read these poems out loud. It was the first time many people would hear some of the subject matter instead. But you just have to stand up there and be true to it. Let your work speak for itself. If you haven’t watched that reading, you can do so here:
You can watch the entire event (mostly short fiction, I was the only poet in the group) here: COMP 490 Reading
That was my first real public reading, so it could only get better for there right? Well I hope that’s the case. I haven’t done a real public reading since. Despite not reading in public, I’ve been reading and rereading and reading some more, all out loud ever since. It’s been a great thing to practice throughout the entire writing process. I think it’s benefited my poems and my confidence in reading them in general. I strongly suggest that more and more writers consider reciting their work along with writing it.
I had a discussion this morning about how many things about a piece can be improved through just one reading. I find that I can catch mistakes better, work on making a poem flow smoothly, and find unnecessary words to pluck out easier. Try it some time. The next time you think you have a poem or a story perfect, read it out loud. Then ask yourself if you can make it even better. Nothing’s ever perfect anyway. I’m always finding ways to improve “finished” pieces. It’s the beauty of writing; there’s always another way something can be written.
In closing, I’d like to share my latest “public reading.” As many of you know, I had a poll up last week asking everyone to vote on a poem for me to read in a video. Well there were a total of 10 votes, so there wasn’t much variation among the totals for each poem. I decided instead of picking one or two poems, I’d read the top four and make it a longer video. It’s also a nice teaser for my book, From Where I Stand.
I hope you enjoy this little video. I’ve gotten great response since I uploaded it yesterday. Please feel free to share it all over the place , comment on it, and simple stare in awe at all the books behind me. That’s maybe a 5th of my collection.