Tag Archives: youtube poetry reading

Help Wanted: Reading Ideas

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.


Filed under Essay, Nonfiction, Poetry, Research and prep for writing