YOU CAN PICK A WHOLE WAY YOUR BODY SCOOPS THE POEM OUT
A WORKSHOP ABOUT HOW TO PERFORM POETRY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A LITTLE SHY
It’s just a little something coming out your body. It was there to begin with, don’t be afraid of it now. You can let the weight of whatever piece of the poem is the most weighty—the subject, the words, the sounds, all of it—tilt your shoulders. You can stomp the poem down into the ground once you’ve scooped it out, so you don’t start a brush fire. You can allow the poem to make you as weird in public as you were when you wrote the poem.
You can allow the poem to make you as weird in public as you were when you wrote the poem.
In this workshop, we will explore what it means to “read” a poem out loud. Read is probably a terrible world. A better word might be perform, or intone, or summon, or summoning, or reckon, or slam, or huff, or hopefully you will find your own word. We will try to get better at whatever it is to bring a poem out loud.
We might already know about poetry’s birth in the oral tradition as an act of collective memorization. We might already know about the desire of a song, a lifted voice, to imitate grief, to conjure the moan so the feeling doesn’t go lost.
In this workshop, we will explore how to memorize our poems somewhere in our body. We will practice a little. We might do a theatre game that isn’t dumb. We will watch a few videos of people who are good at bringing their poetry into the room, and we will talk about how they are good. We will talk about urgency and shyness. Activism and audience. Faking it to get your secrets true. We will talk about basements and microphones.
If we really get on a roll, we might go beyond workshopping how to perform poetry and start workshopping how to be a good poetry audience member, how to make a good poetry series—it’s all in the same room.
We love you, and we’re not here to "listen." We’re here to be with you and yes and. We’re in the poem now. This will be a workshop for scooping the poem into the room.
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Mike Young is the author of two poetry collections: 2014’s Sprezzatura (Publishing Genius Press), and 2010’s We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius Press), which was selected by readers of The Believer as one of the Top 20 Poetry Books of 2010. He is also the author of the 2010 story collection Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot Press). In 2015, Black Cake Records released his first album Imagine a Fire You Can Wear as a Coat.