Last night the last Find The Right Words before the summer, which means my last before I go off to uni in September 😥 It’s a bittersweet feeling, because I’m so sad to be leaving this regular poetry night that has been such a regular part of my month, and played such an important role in my development as a writer and performer… but it was a great show. This is less of a review, more a train-of-thought collection of feelings and ideas that came to me while I was watching the open micers and Buddy Wakefield’s incredible headline set.
Last night I really tried to pinpoint what it was about certain performances that I liked so much, so here are some of those ideas. In Buddy Wakefield’s performance, it was the way his dialect came through that really made it feel personal and direct and unique and broke down boundaries. It was how animated and energetic he was throughout the performance, the way he used movement in a way that mirrors his vivid and unexpected use of language. I noticed that in the open mic performances and Buddy Wakefield and in other poets that I like, a common feature is the use of an anecdote or a story or a specific memory as an anchor for a poem, as a trigger for memory and meaning – I realised some of my first and favourite poems are written in this kind of way. I think I appreciate these poems differently, too, like some poems the words wash over me and it’s nice don’t get me wrong but like anecdotes and stories and memories keep my attention better, I think. And I have also been thinking about how good artists engage the audience. One of the things I’ve noticed that’s most significantly different between myself and other newish poets and the more established, experienced acts is the ability to engage the audience, and I’m not sure if it’s just a skill that comes with time. But I have some ideas, I think laughter helps (and can work even if most of your work is serious). You can explicitly involve an audience by giving them a ‘chorus’ to join in with . You can unite people in breathing. You can directly address them in your poem. You can use common experience to make your work relatable.
Tangled thoughts, but I think they’re useful.