I’ve started pulling together poems to create a poetry manuscript. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it with bravado, if not confidence, so I won’t talk about how I feel about this event.
But I will venture into my worries about reading my poetry aloud. If I have to read someone else’s words aloud, I am an excellent reader. I rarely make a mistake, and my voice delivers the goods with correct expression and a pleasing sound.
Unfortunately, I just can’t get it right when I read my work. Part of the problem is I hate the “typical” cadence many poets adopt when reading their work aloud. It’s very fashionable, but I think it’s boring. Sometimes I approximate that style without succumbing entirely. Sometimes I try to read as I feel the material. What I can’t get down at all is reading like an actor, which is what I would like to do.
Here is one poem in a reading I did in Los Angeles in 2010. This was my heartfelt style, and I got a lot of compliments for the reading that night, though I can see much room for improvement.
And here are a couple of audio versions I recorded this year for the literary magazine A Clean Well-Lighted Place: “Calculating Loss” and “From Both Sides.” Here I tried to compromise, but I’m very unsatisfied.
The other poets in this magazine do a much better job reading their poems.
Practice doesn’t seem to work for me because I feel as if I am floundering about how to read aloud.
So should I go back to my heartfelt style? Or is there a 3rd and better way of reading? Any ideas on what I can do to improve my reading? I’m hoping you have some fabulous ways to decide how to read and then how to go about doing so.