Sunday, November 08, 2009

Dear Aspiring Performance Poet

Over the years, I have received several emails from writers who want to become professional performance poets. I wrote a short list of guidelines. I hope all who are interested find this helpful!

Dear Aspiring Performance Poet,

Read everything.
Read constantly.
Underline the lines you wish you wrote.
Find a circle of writers in your community that you admire and trust.
Meet with them regularly to recite what you've written.
Ask questions: What works? What could work?
Give feedback with an open mind.
Receive feedback with an open heart.
Go home and edit edit edit.
Observe the world around you. Take notes.
See more than you speak.
Risk a theatre class and/or dance class.
Memorize what you can.
Rehearse rehearse rehearse.
Go to as many open mics as you can.
Get so good that hosts invite you to feature.
Realize this might take years.
Practice patience. Don't give up.
Notice how your audience responds to your work.
Notice how your audience responds to other poets.
Learn from them. Love them.
Read these books, among others: Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders of the Spoken Word Revolution (edited by Alix Olson) & Take the Mic: The Art of Performance Poetry, Slam & the Spoken Word (by Marc Kelly Smith)
Show up for other traveling performing poets when they pass through your town.
Bring friends.
Repeat repeat repeat.

Word Up,
Lenelle

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