Why We Perform Words

Poetry, Rambles

I went to see Peter Arnott’s scratch of Talent Night in the Fly Room (which was an open-hearted blast, by the way, and I’m really looking forward to the finished thing), and something he said at the beginning struck me:

Working with actors is like doing it in laboratory conditions — it tests writing in a real-world way. People say “That’s not funny” and you say . . . “You’re right. It isn’t.”

That’s pretty much how I feel about performing poetry. Performing a poem to an audience is an essential part of the creative process for me. How can I know the words are right until the audience has reacted to them? Why on earth would I trade this for the trickle of response from readers when a piece is publishd? Why would I ask for critical commentary from trusted readers and not from trusted listeners? Why would you?

And if you don’t think your poem is auditory, why do you use alliteration, assonance, rhythm, rhyme? Why do your poems have shape? Do you really not sound them at least in your mind? Do you not roll the words around your mouth? So why don’t you perform them? It will test them in a real-world way.

Getting Poetry Performing Again



Phew, I’ve been in theatre-world for ages. But I came back from tour facing invitations to gigs, festivals, fora and all-sorts, and it reminded me that I needed to get back on stage saying things that rhyme quite fast.

To kick things off again, I’ll be heading down to the Oubliette Arthouse, an occupied abandoned warehouse at 55 Suffolk St in Southwark, for the poetry night of their Mash-Up mini-fest. It’s this Saturday 1st May from 7-10, followed by music ’til whenever, and opening with a performance from the ever-amazing Stoke Newington International Airport. Come along! It’s going to be a great night. check out the rest of the ‘fest as well.