Yesterday, I posted about a retreat/conference I was part of recently. As part of that, I was asked to present a Pick 5 booktalk of 5 great recent poetry books. And I only had 5 minutes. Well, the best way to share a poetry book is to read a poem from it, so I chose one poem from each book. The problem was, one of my picks was October Mourning, by Leslea Newman. This stunning collection of poems about the?murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard?is heart-breaking, and I shared a couple of bits from it earlier here?(you have to scroll down a few paragraphs). I didn’t pick one of the most powerful poems that I knew I’d have trouble getting through, but still.?To my mortification, I started tearing up and had to pause and then just read through tears. My voice was breaking and 100+ people waited for me to get my act together. Oi.
I cry whenever I read completely powerful poems aloud. There are a number of mine that I never try to read aloud to groups. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with showing a poem affects you, but if you physically can’t continue because you’re choked up, that doesn’t show off a poem to its best advantage.
So, any tips for maintaining control during poetry readings? Please share! I want to share emotional, powerful poems, but I hesitate to.
P.S. If you want to see the other four books I shared, send me your email address and ask to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter. I’ll send out my October issue to you, which shows all 5 books.