Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tips for Not Performing Poems


Well I’m not just a one trick pony, I can advise on how not to read your poems too

Here goes:

1. Sound Bored. Read the poem as if it’s a technical manual from a microwave that no one ever reads. In fact read out a technical manual from a microwave if you can find one.
2. Don’t let em know when it’s over. Have lots of awkward pauses within your poems. Say the third last line as if it’s the last. Pause, when they start clapping read the second last (or penultamite ooh aren’t I posh? – see point 3) line, repeat as necessary.
3. Use the longest words you can find, in the introduction or better yet in the poem itself, trawl the dictionary for long long words to make the audience feel like ignoramice (plural for ignoramouses – see point 4)
4. Be patronising – explain everything to the crowd. They know nothing. They need to be spoon fed, make all your intros at least five times longer than the poems themselves.
5. Volume Control. Shout – as loud as you can. Whisper – make them all think they’re going deaf. Keep turning it up and down throughout your bit.
6. If you make a mistake, go back to the start. Read the poem as many times as you need to in order to get it absolutely perfect. Treat the audience like a patient camera crew. Say “No, I wasn’t fully happy with that, I’ll do it again”
7. Take at least twice your allocated time. See point 4 & 6 for methods to achieve this – it will make you stand out in the audience’s memory. Oh yeah.
8. React. Cheer loudly at the end of each of your own poems. Boo any other poets. Laugh condescendingly at the serious bits in their poems. Repeat their lines loudly and incredulously where necessary.
9. Dress as uncomfortably as you can. Root through the drawers for that body suit from the early nineties, buy a leotard if you’re a man.
10. Get roaring drunk before you go on. Nothing says tortured artist like a real live slobbering gibbering mess.

Simple really – let me know how it goes. Actually let me know when you’re reading. I'll be there.

13 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

Marvellous list. Colin Will (blog Sunny Dunny) did something similar a while back and that made me laugh too. I must dig out that post of his for you.

It does amaze me quite how bored by their own poems some people can sound and look. Though my particular non-favourite is that face that says 'you must love me and value everything I say...I'm a poet you know'.
x

beedlemama said...

Very good Niamh - hmmm the roaring drunk thing is a theme with bands too, have seen a few roaring drunk, namely the strokes.. Julian managed to sing ok, but the waffle inbetween was indiscernable...

Domestic Oub said...

You missed out the poet who can't read their own writing/print out. Is there one thing I hate more than that??? I'm not asking that poets know their stuff off by heart - they can't all be as brilliant as you VariousC - but, at least be able to read it off the page like you've actually looked at it sometime in the last six months...

Niamh B said...

Thanks Rachel - will have to check him out. it's true - "respect the poet" attitude has to be the funniest.
Yes BM - Talking while drunk is a bigger challenge than singing while drunk. It's been proven.
DO - that's a good one - complaining about the lighting, making that the reason you can't read your poems properly - almost made the list as well!

the watercats said...

Sounds like a winning list to me!.. I especially like the 'be patronising' one, lol!

Niamh B said...

thanks watercats - the don't list is alot easier to write than the do...
I would love to see someone put em into practise tho...
might try it some day - under a pseudonym, would have to write some new poems especially for it I think!

Dominic Rivron said...

One could add: don't apologise for yourself before you start - e.g., "I don't very often read my poetry to a roomfull of people so you'll have to bear with me, etc. etc." It's advice that applies to many things, I suspect.

Niamh B said...

Dominic, Very true, It's good advice. Thanks.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I've found in my very little experience that being very drunk makes most things go swimmingly, except perhaps micro surgery.And threading needles.And adjusting the ariel on the roof.Tying shoelaces.Sheep shearing.Yes I said SHEARING.

Niamh B said...

TFE - Tks, esp for clarifying the last point. So Sheep SHEARING doesn't go well when drunk. Ok.
And get velcro shoes for god's sake, much safer all round.

Rachel Fox said...

Here's Colin's post.

Rachel Fox said...

It's kind of a dos and don'ts.
x

Niamh B said...

Thanks Rachel, that's brilliant, do let us know when the video comes out!