I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of finding your voice (literally), by Kerry Hammerton.
How To Find Your Voice
Whenever I go to poetry readings I am struck by how good poems sometimes don’t get the attention that they deserve because the reader mumbles the words. The reader fails to project confidence about their writing and their poems.
And some poets get it right! and read their work with the confidence and passion that makes the listener sit up and take notice. I am not talking about being a performance or a slam poet, but rather a poet who is able speak their poetry with confidence and conviction.
What I want to share with you is a simple way of reading your poetry that will project you and your work in a confident way.
What you will need for this exercise (yes, I am going to get you to do some work!) is a poem that you will be reading or would like to read a poetry event.
What I want you to do is sit slumped in your chair. Yes, that’s right; sit slumped in your chair. What I now want you to do is read that poem without lifting your eyes from the page.
How did it sound? Flat, dull, without any energy?
Now what you need to do is stand up. Pretend you are standing in front of that microphone and you have a sea of faces in front of you (of course the hall is packed out! everyone has come along to hear you read your fabulous new poem).
Stand with both feet firmly on the floor, your feet slightly apart.
Now take a breath, inhaling up your spine, feel your neck elongate.
Long exhale down your front, allow gravity to soften your jaw and shoulders.
Ask your self the question: what would it feel like if there were a little bit more ease right now?
Inhale up – lengthening your spine.
Exhale down – softening down the front. Allow gravity to soften your jaw and shoulders.
Imagine that there is a pull from above your head that equals the pull of gravity.
Focus on the space around you –
in front of you;
to the right;
above and below.
Feel that your head, heart and belly are aligned.
Now imagine that you have a mentor who is standing behind you supporting you. This mentor can be a poet who you admire or a friend or family member who is very supportive, anyone who will help you to have confidence. You can even imagine that they are standing with their hands supporting your lower back.
Now read your poem.
You should have notices a difference – that your voice feels more confident, a little slower and has more energy.
It may take you awhile to be able to this practice without the prompts – my suggestion is that you do this practice as often as possible. You may want to make a recording of the practice and play it back to yourself.
This is a practice that has been adapted from Conscious Embodiment. More about Conscious Embodiment and Conscious Embodiment Coaches can be found here: http://web.me.com/wendyepalmer/Conscious_Embodiment/Home.html.
Thank you Kerry… I’m hoping that will come in very handy if I’m ever asked to do an in-person event!
Kerry Hammerton’s personal website is www.kerryhammerton.com, one of the writing groups she belongs to has a poetry blog where they publish a monthly edition: www.thepoetryplatform.wordpress.com. Kerry also has an author’s page on Books Live: http://kerryhammerton.bookslive.co.za.
Kerry was a Guest Blogger at Mslexia http://www.mslexia.co.uk/blog/author/kerry from April to June 2012.
Kerry has published poetry in various South African and UK literary magazines. These are the lies I told you, her debut poetry collection, was published by Modjaji Books in 2010. Some of her poems appear in the anthology Difficult to Explain, (2010 Finuala Dowling ed.). Other poems appear in the following anthologies: Africa, My Africa (2013 Patricia Schonstein ed.) and For a Rhino in a Shrinking World (2013 Harry Owen ed.). Kerry lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
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