Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience

why I never bother to “practice” a reading anymore


Cedar Sigo on poetry readings.

Author: Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

2 thoughts on “why I never bother to “practice” a reading anymore

  1. I really enjoyed (and related to) this article. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Loved this! Some things I connect with: really reading the poem, reading as it appears on the page, and letting it be like natural, honest talking. (And people have so many styles of talking!)

    My mom just judged a speech contest and was appalled at all the “performed” pieces–people not reading, but overdoing (and usually overdoing a memorized piece, again rather than reading it.) So I advise practicing a piece simply to be comfortable with what comes next, not to misread what’s on the page from nervousness or, for example, not to forget a slight revision and read a line the old way, etc.

    Really read, and really talk.

    And that delicate paradox again: poems that looked “acted” ring false. But actors are often the most natural readers of poetry because they know they can just talk it, say what’s there. They are at ease living in the words.

    Ah, and the barrier with the audience. To really talk, one would really connect! But audiences can be disconcerting and shy of connection themselves, so it can really work for the poet to the connect with the poem, and let that invite the audience in, something we’ve discussed here before.

    Yes, thanks so much for posting this!

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