Now I have read at Speedpoets in Brisbane with an audience of 20-30 people and at various more intimate i.e. smaller gatherings, where the audience has been a poetry reading public and very polite.
These events typically limit you to 1-3 poems and there's very little time for, say, waxing lyrical with introductions and stories that lead into poems.
It's a good experience, gives you a chance to work on your delivery, you sometimes even get some good vibes from the audience and if you're lucky an audience member might come and tell you how one of your poems might have affected them.
The solo gig for obvious reasons felt like putting on a show. I had about 2 hours notice to pull something together and put out calls for help on Facebook - thanks to those friends that saw the post in time and offered what help they could.
I had no idea how long I would have to read for, or what type of audience to expect. There was going to be a muso singing and playing acoustic guitar and me for a period of two hours.
I prepared about 20 odd poems, taken from the last 3 years - initially I thought this might have been over preparation but in the end turned out to be just about right.
About 75% of the work I had performed before and these were all well revised poems.
In the end the crowd was small - the waitstaff, the muso, those walking the street (we performed Alfresco) and a young french couple.
The audio setup was perhaps a little over-engineered for the event (but this is what you get work with professionals) and I am sure everyone in a 2 block radius got to hear my work.
In some respects it was similar to a poetry reading, although I don't usually work with an amp and speakers, but there were new experiences too:
- I had much more time to lead into the poems and this was an area I felt I need to work on, ad-libbing intros was a bit hit and miss, something that would improve with performances, or with having some notes. Consequently some of the poetry felt a bit rushed (part of this was nerves). The muso said I improved toward the end.
- I had never before sat down and read an extended collection of my poetry, even if you don't perform live I think you could do this as an audio recording. I found theme, tone and distinct emotions arising from the sum of all the parts, I ended up gaining a new perspective for my work.
And I got a call back, so who knows this might turn into a regular thing?