Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Performance vs Page?

Just wanted to put down some vague thoughts about the performance/page thing.

I often find that I really like a performer when I see them perform. Then I read their work, and without their voice, it doesn't lift off the page. What's that got to do with?

Often, it seems there's too many words. Too much waffle around the subject perhaps. Too much trying to explain what you're saying perhaps. Like we won't get it if you don't explain it.

If I want to red-pencil a poet's work, it's because it's not working for me. Too many words. But some performers do get it right for the page as well as the stage.

Many performance poets are very dramatic and exciting to watch. That's in contrast to the mousy quietness of a lot of 'page poets.' However, sometimes they can overdo it and come across as stagey.

Many performance poets actually learn how to use a microphone. This is in contrast to page poets who seem afraid of it.

Performance poets are often refreshingly direct and don't go round the metaphorical houses to say something. Sometimes they're too obvious, but then page poets can be too subtle sometimes and avoid actually saying anything.

They're not afraid of jokes, though quite often they tell bad jokes and that's not good.

Page poems are often quieter and more reflective than performance poets, but that's not always the case and sometimes quieter voices get lost among the noisier ones.

There's a lot of sniffiness about which is best, the page or the stage, from both sides. I've been guilty of it myself. 'I don't like performance/page poetry' is often like saying 'I don't like carrots' though you've never eaten a carrot in your life. Or the one time you ate it it was overcooked.

Both page and stage poets can get stuck in doing things in over-familiar ways, or just pleasing one's audience. Don't, in otherwords, be afraid to experiment for yourself.