“The Spoken Word: A Workshop” by Danielle Bennett (MTN2014)

Danielle Bennett shared the following helpful and powerful workshop at Mosaic Terra Nova (MTN2014):

“You have a story to share!

Performance Poetry is really about the poetry. The presentation part is easy. Performance is easy when you just tell the truth.

There are no rules in poetry.

What makes a good poem?

1. Originality.

Resonance is good but tell your story rather than copy others. Don’t be afraid of your last.

2.  Use your words.

Word choice. Search for powerful words. Don’t settle for first draft cliches.

3. Details.

Include details to help people connect with you.

4. Editing.

Get out cliches and spend hours making sure every line counts. Take out everything that doesn’t help make your point.

5. Honesty.

Not all poems need to have a happy ending. Just be honest!
Bring insight from what you’ve experienced.

To find what you are feeling, sit and listen. Let the feelings come back by going back to that moment. Ask yourself what is actually happening? What am I actually feeling?

Two warnings:

  1. False praise does not help people get better.
  2. Rhyming actually can be a distraction.

Flipping Cliches Exercise

Two options:

1. Replace words with image or symbols that represent it – a metaphor
I feel lucky vs. I feel like I have a four leaf clover tied to my shadow.

2. Take the base of the cliche and add to it to make it original.

Flipping the cliches examples from those in our workshop:

The pain was gut wrenching. Vs. I felt like a man with no arms unable to scratch an outbreak of poison ivy.

I was afraid. Vs. The courage leaks from my eyes.

I am free. Vs. This strait jacket no longer fits.

Performance Tips

Speaking words is far more powerful than reading what someone has written.

“Words create worlds.” You never know what you’ve gone through will help someone listening.

Never lead with an apology. Breathe and get it out before you go up. Leave your anxiety in your seat.

Stand as still as possible unless the movement is part of expressing what you are saying and intentional. If you move your hands do so above the waist.”

Life In Color – Spoken Word by Danielle Bennett from Mosaic LA on Vimeo.

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