Perform Like You Mean It

          Today marks the middle of the week, and it’s crazy to think we
only have two more days of workshop! For now, the writers and staff are keeping the emotions at bay so we can focus on the Friday’s reading. In preparation for the reading, the writers have been hard at work learning how to perform their pieces.

           Simone Savannah, our visiting writer, lectured on spoken word poetry and how best to deliver writing aloud. Author of the chapbook Like
, Simone Savannah was a finalist for the 2017 Rita Dove Award in Poetry with poems published in many literary magazines. Savannah graduated from the University of Kansas with a Ph.D. in Creative Writing.

           Savannah introduced spoken word poetry to the writers with YouTube videos of fellow poets performing original pieces. The writers discussed how the performers used body language — eye contact, hand motions, facial expression — to emphasize the ideas and emotions expressed in their poetry. Along with body language, the writers decided volume, intentional silence, and the speed of talking are important elements of performing. Simone emphasized the importance of establishing a personal connection between the poet and the audience during a performance; the writers learned it’s the main facet through which spoken word poets engineer empathy in their listeners.

           Once the writers got the basics of spoken word poetry down, they each wrote a poem to perform in front of their peers. Below are some pictures of their performances and snippets of their poetry.

When you refuse to swallow pills to make you feel normal, what do you do?

Nerd is the same thing we shout from the rooftops. 

I wait for the world to change not yet knowing it never will. 

           After a boxed lunch from Bluestem and a few rousing games of Telephone, the instructors passed out postcards at random to the writers and asked them to write a letter from the fictional character sending the card. Our writers spread out across the Beach Museum to write their stories[KK1] . They used the images on their postcards to write about exotic expeditions, long lost loves, and murderous mysteries.

During the autopsy, we found an address in his throat. 

You know I’ve been looking for my soulmate in Europe. 

Dear Romero: it’s the Pope. 

Yo, Governor Mckinley! 

The thing about plastic and rubber people is that they keep getting louder

           As they presented their stories to the class, the writers utilized the techniques they learned from Simone Savannah. The main areas of focus were volume, speed, and emphasis on particular words.

           With one more visiting author, the writers will gain even more expertise and develop their craft that much more. The progress made today — and the inevitable progress they will experience tomorrow — excites me for the reading on Friday at 2pm! If you’re available, make sure to swing by the Beach Museum to hear the stories I’ve only been able to quote on these blogs. Trust me, they’re worth every single word!      

– Adrianna, Program Assistant 

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