Memorizing your poetry

Black Man

Have you ever seen a smooth poetry cafe where various poets get on stage, recite their poems with a cool swag, perfect delivery and awesome performance? Remember how the crowd snaps their fingers in approval? The entire experience is unforgettable and amazingly enjoyable.

I decided that I wanted to get on stage so I’ve been doing open mics at a place called Mahogany Urban Poetry Series. It a place in Sacramento, but I’ve been to other places in the area too. I’ve always gotten on stage and read my poems aloud. I never thought I could memorize them and be good at. I was dead wrong.

I’m still working on it, but I realized I allowed fear and anxiety to get to me. As soon as I let it go and got over my subconscious fear of memorization, I saw that my poetry came alive. I was able to empathize my verses and stress the meanings of my words with gestures and body language. Suddenly, I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me, just by doing a little bit of memorization. I want to get hooked! I want to memorize my poems and work on them as much as I can.  My goal is to work on them as much as two to three hours a day. I just want to hone in on my performances.

My reason for stressing over memorization is due to so many people telling me my poetry is solid, but I just need to memorize it. That’s saying a lot because many poets aren’t performers. They may have a great delivery, but they use clichés and are horrible writers because they rely on buzzwords to get the crowd going. You can use buzzwords, but if you’re a good writer, you’re able to convey a good message without it.

In order to perform on stage, excellent writing isn’t enough. You have to perform well because this is still entertainment. Of course, the better I perform, the more likely I’d sell books and CDs or drive traffic to my site. That’s my goal. I hope that by next week I could have a solid performance on tape so I can post it. Meanwhile, I am going to work on making time to rehearse daily.

Do you have any tips for memorization? Have you ever attended or performed at a spoken word cafe? Let’s talk about it.