Are you part of a local poetry group that meets for readings and open mics? I’ve been attending our local Fraser Valley Poets Society open mics and other functions for upwards of ten years now! It’s been a great place to share work, get practice in reading, even sell books.
For some of those years I’ve been the group’s webmaster. I still am. That means I try to put up a post on our site’s blog after each reading. This involves taking photos of our events and figuring out what to say about them.
Our most recent open mic was last Monday. I snapped away during the reading and came home with a camera full — images of our readers with a variety of facial expressions and in various poses. All those shots reminded me of how doing a public reading involves so much more than just parroting the words on the page (or phone).
Reading a poem
Reading a poem’s
more than reading just words
about showers or summer
or hockey or birds.
It’s grimaces, eye flicks
a grin or a frown.
It’s where you are looking
upward or down.
It’s words clearly spoken
to embellish the writing
you’ve carefully honed.
It’s mystery rhythms
that beat soft to loud
you’re part of the story
enchanting the crowd.
It’s significant pause
of emotional choke,
the punchline delivery
of a well-told joke.
Then hand over the mic
to the next girl or guy
while audience claps,
sighs a satisfied sigh.
© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
To see the poem, above, together with some of our poets in action, check out the original post on our society blog HERE.
(By the way, if you slip on over, you won’t see me. I did read, but you’ll have to take my word for it as there are no pixels to prove it.)
This poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the Haiku Stickies Queen herself, Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.
June 23, 2016 at 11:01 pm
June 23, 2016 at 11:02 pm
Wow! You aptly capture the art of reading a poem. My favorite part is, “you’re part of the story
enchanting the crowd.” Fantastic!
June 24, 2016 at 6:03 am
Thanks so much, books4learning! We experienced one of those crowd-enchanting moments on Monday and it was in large measure because of the way the poet read his piece. That feeling of having the crowd in your hands has happened to me a few times–and it’s addictive 🙂
June 24, 2016 at 5:51 am
I envy your ability to read your poetry out loud. I have difficulty just reading aloud to my cat! And she’s not a discriminating listener.
A “satisfied sigh” is a great ending to a poem and a reading.
June 24, 2016 at 7:34 am
Thanks, Diane, and for hosting PF today! However, I’m sure you’re selling yourself short in the reading department. Your poems would be fun to read aloud. You need to give the pleasure of hearing them to more than just your cat.
June 24, 2016 at 5:52 am
I loved seeing the post with your poem interspersed with photos of the readers, Violet. It must have been a satisfying night to hear those diverse readers. “It’s grimaces, eye flicks
a grin or a frown.” I am reminded of my granddaughter, 7, an early reader who is trying hard to be expressive when she reads to me.
June 24, 2016 at 7:36 am
Thanks, Linda. It was fun putting that together. I think it’s wonderful that your little 7-yr. old has already picked up on the possibility of being an interesting reader. (And I bet I know who she got it from 😉
June 24, 2016 at 6:02 am
Good for you, Violet, doing the open mics! Poetry is meant to be heard, isn’t it? And yes, reading aloud requires a whole other skill set. I’ve fallen in love with poems I’ve heard that didn’t capture me on the page…. same with fiction. I adore some books I’ve heard on audio that I kind of passed by in print. Presentation matters! xo
June 24, 2016 at 7:47 am
Thanks Irene! You are an accomplished reader–I’ve heard you often on SoundCloud.
I’ve had the same experience–falling in love with some bits of writing just because of the way they are read. We have one woman who comes to our readings occasionally that I could listen to all evening. The fact that she has a lovely English accent doesn’t hurt. It’s that, combined with her magical poems, that makes her reading irresistible. I put a sampling of her lines on a post I did of her book launch here: https://fraservalleypoets.com/tag/bridget-porter-oldale/
Brenda Davis Harsham
June 24, 2016 at 11:11 am
What a fabulous post, this and the Fraser Valley one. Where is Abbotsford? I’ve been to poetry slams more than once, but never a reading. I think I’ll have to change that one day. 🙂
June 24, 2016 at 11:30 am
Why, thank you, Brenda! Abbotsford is a city about an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, B.C. And a reading does differ from a slam, in that it’s gentler with less energy and adrenaline. Reading your poetry to an attentive audience is a wonderful experience. I recommend it!
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Brenda Davis Harsham
June 24, 2016 at 7:18 pm
I will look for a club near me. 🙂
June 24, 2016 at 4:55 pm
Violet, I am so glad you gave us the link to your event. I posted this comment there: Bravo to all the poets and to you for capturing the event in poem and photos!
June 26, 2016 at 12:34 pm
What a great community! I’d love it if we could get our PF peeps together for a poetry reading someday!!
June 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm
A Poetry Friday reading would be amazing, Mary Lee! Great idea… now how to make it happen 😉
Keri Collins Lewis
June 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm
I agree with Mary Lee — PF reading would be epic! I’ve never been to a reading but I’ve watched videos of poets, such as Billy Collins, reading their own work. I’ll have to see if there’s anything going on here so I can visit!
June 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm
You should, Keri. Such readings are often billed as “open mic.” In addition to us regulars, we get a steady stream of newcomers who try us out, and some come back. All ages read too–from young to old.