The Art Of Performance Poetry

Did you think “poem for achievement” and what do you think? Late-night smoky avant-garde cafe with berets, young beards in black turtlenecks, spouting absurdly random messages while throwing themselves at seemingly incoherent objects?

Or do you imagine a “helmet”, a bunch of short conversations, a snap of a finger, a coffee race where participants throw themselves into a series of poorly written rhymes with raises?

Or imagine a whimsical whisperer who can do nothing but stare at his feet as he mutters on his way through work which will be much more powerful if you focus on anything other than his bad skin and shy skin.

Poetry Witch Ritual Theater « Annie Finch

Can you focus on performance? Well, think again. Although the term can produce relatively modern imagery, the performance of poetry is almost as old as language itself.

Poetry, with an emphasis on perfectly selected words; instant hit, works well in large theaters for performances. An eloquent poet can set pace and accent, and can often revive poetry in a way that reaches an audience with the shortest possible attention interval.

There are many definitions of poetry for performance, and there are those who didactically argue that there is a big difference between “poetry for performance” and poetry performance.

Whether played virtually or live, it’s a show of poetry – whether props or visuals are included or not. There are verses that work best on the page and verses that only come to life when read aloud.

Bloody Poetry — Julie. Cray. Leong.

There are poets who can turn seemingly simple and perhaps superficial poetry into something extraordinary in their reading, and others can turn a very touching poem into something every day by resorting to too many tricks or reading it monotonously without an effective accent.

Personally, I think there’s nothing better than finding a perfectly written poem that speaks to me intimately, in this serene space where readers are transported and reach well beyond death.