Tag Archives: performance reading

A Balancing Act

IMG_7764Once upon a time, I fancied myself becoming a Naturopath and began a journey in that direction. Life happened and I didn’t keep going in that direction but I did learn a lot in that time. The biggest thing I took from my study was the term Homeostasis. In our body, this is a tendency towards a stable environment, something that our body is striving to do all the time. In life, we are always trying to strive for some kind of equilibrium too.

Humans are living on the edge of a knife. In this fast paced world, it’s hard to decipher what is good for us. We no longer know how to read our bodies or trust our intuition. People are getting fatter and less healthy despite the fact that science has made leaps and bounds in knowledge. If we now know so much why do we feel as if we know so little?

Every day, someone is being diagnosed with cancer. Every day someone is dying from cancer. How do we find a way to deal with this? Suddenly, a cancer patient is faced with death and the cure for the cancer is highly toxic. Who can afford to be sick? We are so caught up in the everyday need for earning a living that we forget what is important in this life. Even if you believe that there is life after death, don’t you want to make this life as worthwhile, healthy and happy as possible?

Life on earth seems to be about extremes. Work hard, live hard. Live the fast life and if you get sick, kill it with Chemo or Radiation. It’s all about the quick fix. Get a headache, take a tablet. Get the flu, take a tablet. Get fat, have it sucked out. Work long hours, eat badly. It’s all go, go, go, and sorry but I don’t have time for that. Work is a hassle and the kids are sick and I don’t have time for this. If we slowed down and looked after ourselves a little better we wouldn’t get sick and we would actually have the time to enjoy what we are working towards.

My point?

The secret to balance is slowing down. How can you slow down? Read a book, create something special, walk the dog. It’s not always easy to create balance in life but art is a very important tool to create a richer, more balanced life. Never underestimate its power.

So, go forth and create!

Blaise, the book chick

Writing for Spoken Word

Busybird Publishing Open Mic Night by Kev Howlett
Busybird Publishing Open Mic Night by Kev Howlett

Last week I had fun at a workshop facilitated by spoken word poet, Krystle Herdy, at the Society of Women Writers Victoria. I have written a poem or two in my life but it isn’t my preference. That doen’t mean that I don’t appreciate it. In fact I encourage writers of prose to dabble in poetry of some form because it will add a lyrical quality to their work. It’s also a lot of fun to play with words.

At first the group was a little shy about getting up to read their work but they soon found their way and were belting out poems within an hour. Once they got the idea that the spoken word is as much about attitude and how you perform it and that the written form doesn’t usually translate as well when read aloud, they were out the front with attitude. This group has an age range of around 40 to 85 years of age, so it’s an awesome sight to see a 75 year old woman talking about politics or love with attitude.

I had the feeling that overall, the group felt quite liberated by the workshop after being given permission to ‘perform’. So here are some things to think about if you’re writing for performance:

  • Be bold about what you’re saying, this comes back to attitude
  • Use concrete images. You don’t want to lose the audience with complicated descriptions where they may lose track of what you’re saying.
  • Repetition can be useful to get a point across.
  • Rhyme can also help as it can help people latch on to images.
  • Metaphor creates images for listeners.
  • Illiteration (repeating first letter of a word like silly Sam) makes images more concrete.

Once you have your piece written down, you need to work on the delivery. Spoken word isn’t about writing a poem and getting in front of people to read it. You need to practise your performance, remembering that how it’s written isn’t necessarily how you perform it. The emphasis on words will be different to how you’ve put it on paper. Here are six things to work on to deliver your work:

  1. Strong, confident posture
  2. Make eye contact with your audience
  3. Project your voice
  4. Enunciate your words
  5. Use facial expressions to fit the tone and words of your piece
  6. Practise the work before you go live.

Spoken word is as much about theatre as the actual words and there are people who concentrate soley on this type of writing. There are many places where you can go to see or participate in spoken word events, such as our open mic night (third Wednesday of the month) or places auch as Melbourne Spoken Word. There are some poetry slams out there that pay good money too, if you’re up to the challenge.

Give it a go, it’s a lot of fun.

Blaise, the book chick