I am currently reading Caves Speak In Metaphors by Napo Masheane ( which I bought last year at Poetry Farm’s Urban Poetry Buffer 09) and currently on page 86; an article/essay about Spoken Word. Reading through the article made me think and ask myself about how I perform, mostly on stage but before I get into that allow me to quote these four lines from the article: “Most spoken word poets are so keen with presentation, the stage and the microphone….while what they are saying doesn’t speak to the audience. It is no use for me to stand in front of people for four minutes and proudly recite what can be thrown in the rubbish bin. Poets must learn to use their tools (WORDS)” After going through the above four lines I realized that the same thing Napo Masheane is talking about is what I have been doing at some performances. I was always concerned with how I present [recite] my poems than whether I am able create a connection with my audience. The most important thing to me was always getting a good feedback and occupying the center stage was “how hot I was” than how much people related to my material. True that it is always encouraging when the audience says you were “blazing” on stage but how painful is it if none of them can remember even a single line that spoke to them? How useless is it if as a poet you have a good poem but lack enough skills on how to best perform that poem? What I have learned thus far is that as poets we need to pay attention to the words which build our poems and how to best to say/pronounce the words. I have often fell into the dark pit of reciting poems whose words give me a hard time when I to have pronounce them and the mistake there is having not taken my time to redraft such poems and extensively rehearse before a performance. I mean what good is it if your audience has quite a problem catching what word you just said? In the Province of Poetry Mr. Benjamin says “the poet writes for himself, but since he is a person, he writes also for all”. What I choose to decipher from the sentence with regard to stage performance is that it is quite imperative for me (and us) as poets to realize that we must be brutally honest with ourselves if we love our material before we expect others to love it. Therefore in conclusion; the question is as poets are we speaking to the people? Join the discussion and leave your comment
Do you speak to the people?