poetry memorization (epilogue)

now that you have actually gone through the blood, sweat & tears of memorizing a poem, you may notice some subtle changes in your approach to poetry- well, at least i did. check it…

JEOPARDY. if you notice that in your memorization and/or performance that you keep forgetting/fuckin.up certain words/lines/stanzas on a regular basis, maybe they shouldnt be in your poem. your subconscious is tryin to tell you something. i suggest you listen.

DOUBLE JEOPARDY. why go through all this? i am not going to say it’s so you could win some slam or shit like that. its not cuz i think memorized pieces are better than say a patricia smith, perdomo, jeff mcdaniel oration. nope, at this point, i am actually more impressed by a real good page poet.

i think you should do it cuz the memorization process helps you get more in touch with the poem itself. it lets you figure out unnecessary verbage. helps you find your natural tonality and volume. lets your body add nuance to your voice. it helps you make a more concrete psychic rapport with the audience… i know, i know, too many comics but hear
me out.

some folks use the page like capt america flaunts his shield. they hide everything behind it and that doesnt help the audience get to know them. when you leave the page behind, you are forced to address these folks and make them believe what you believe by bringing them into the world of your poem through the narrative of both your breath and body. once the audience connects with you on a real personal level, the rest is gravy.

now, what do i mean by audience? audience refers to whoever you want to hear your poem. there is always the possibility that while a whole auditorium may be listening to you, there is only a handful of people you are actually addressing. always keep these folk in mind when you do anything. please, dont tell me, that you go onstage and dont care about who hears you.

FINAL JEOPARDY. in the last few months i memorized a martin espada, willie perdomo and yousef komunyakaa poem. while in the act of memorizing the first of these poems, martin’s “rebellion is the circle of a lover’s hands,” i realized that i could not perform this poem in my normal speaking voice. the poem relies on a sense of wisdom that only comes from experience (which poetically & politically i am not rich with) and a sense of calm (which i can at least fake). the other poems ended up having similar tones that again required me to slow down my delivery and leave some of the lines hanging out there on the edge of the page and me on stage with a half smirk that said “that last line was pretty dope ass, right? wish i had written it” a nice sense of arrogance that i am comfortable pulling off when quoting work that i find merits that kind of self-indulgence. fast forward to my bar13 feature and only after a nice poetry conversation with omar did i realize that one of the aspects of my set that i personally enjoyed was my (drum roll) new found slower more confident delivery which i will fully attribute to those cover poems.

and thats it for now. next week, we can get back to talking aimlessly about shit that will never change, nebulous shit talking about people that never read this blog anyway, and down low hating… or not…

till then- love ya like if i made you a mixed CD after our first date

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