How To Write Performance Poetry

What is Performance Poetry?

Performance poetry is an art form which combines the written form of poetry with a performance before an audience. It is an engaging way for the poet to express their emotions, thoughts, and experiences with the audience. Performance poets have the opportunity to bring their words to life, often through word-painting, improvisation, and audience participation. Performance poetry can range from traditional spoken word poetry, to rap, to slam poetry and other genres.

Where to Start

When writing performance poetry, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the poem needs to be engaging and effective at captivating the audience. It is important to first brainstorm ideas, exploring the topic and what messages you want to bring across. Once an idea or theme is chosen, the poet begins to build up the poem, allowing the words and sentences to come naturally. It is important to engage all of the senses in the poem and to paint an image through words and phrases.

Techniques to Use

For a memorable performance, there are certain techniques that the poet might employ. Word-painting can involve the use of imagery and analogies to create vivid pictures using just words. Repetition and alliteration are used to emphasize words or emotions as well as to keep a steady rhythm and pace. Many performance poets use extended metaphor to compare abstract concepts to give their poetry more depth and meaning. Additionally, vocal variety such as changes in intonation, volume, and speed, can draw the audience in the poem.

Building a Structure

The best performance poems have a strong structure. The poet might opt to incorporate a dialogue or a three part structure beginning with an introduction, a climax or main message, and an ending. The poem should also be kept concise and dynamic while focusing on the main message to keep the audience engaged.

Making an Impression

In order to stand out in a crowded performance poetry space, it is important to be unique and to bring something new to the table. Being true to one’s self and to the words is a crucial part of remaining genuine. Additionally, the poem should evoke emotion in the audience and bring the words to life.

Finding the Right Space

Performance poetry can be found in many different spaces. Open mic nights, poetry slams, and other spoken word events are all popular venues for poets to showcase their work. There are even websites, forums, and social media spaces where the poet can share their words and be part of a larger creative community.

Creating an Engaging Performance

When preparing for a performance poetry show, the poet should consider the mood and energy of the room. While at a performance poetry event, it is important to remain mindful of the audience and to engage with them in between pieces, creating a safe and inclusive space. Appropriate physical movement, combined with thoughtful use of pauses and timing, can help create an enhanced experience of the poem.

Critiquing Poetry Constructively

In order to ensure that the performance poetry experience is enjoyable for both the poets and the audience, it is important to provide constructive criticism at every event. Rather than simply focusing on the negatives of a poem, the audience should offer suggestions and share what was enjoyed from the poem.

Using Poetry to Educate the Public

Performance poetry is an effective tool for educating and informing the public on important topics and social justice issues. Poetry is often used to bring awareness to sensitive topics such as oppression, violence, and discrimination. Performance poets have the opportunity to spread knowledge and raise social consciousness.

Performing with Confidence

Though performing in front of a large crowd can be daunting, it is important to approach it with confidence. Knowing the words of the poem, having a crowd strategy, and trusting yourself can help increase the confidence of the poet and make a solid impression on the audience.

Respecting the Art of Performance Poetry

The poet should always be conscious of the fact that their words have the power to inspire and ignite something special in the audience. Performance poetry is an art form which should be respected and celebrated by all.

Bringing Words to Life in a Performance Setting

As a performance poet, it is important to bring the words of the poem to life. Creative props, sound effects, and dynamic physicality can help enhance the experience and storytelling of a performance poem.

Learning from Mistakes

It is inevitable that mistakes will be made, it is a part of the process. What’s important is to not give up and to take the lessons away from the mistakes and use them for improvement.

Staying Relevant and Fresh

To ensure success as a performance poet, it is important to stay grounded in current trends and topics in the spoken word and slam poetry world. Poets should read widely and be creative when creating content. Staying resourceful and innovative can help the poet stand out and gain recognition.

Organizing and Participating in Events

Finally, it is important to be involved in building the performance poetry community through event organization and participating in the events of others. There are the chances to network, collaborate, and share work with the larger community. This is an integral part of the performance poetry experience and it can help foster growth and dialogues.

Minnie Walters is a passionate writer and lover of poetry. She has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the work of famous poets such as William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and many more. She hopes you will also fall in love with poetry!

Leave a Comment