It's been four weeks since Pages & Stages first sat in on El Farol's Poética "Night Beat" Poetry Slam, and I'm happy to report that the event continues strong. Following its initial success for Marisa Del Rio's birthday party, a collection of regulars has emerged. ---
The technical difficulties present on the first night have long since been resolved, and the audio levels are now clear of feedback (even though the occasional reader's voice on the PA still grates against the nerves).
Having spent the better part of the previous evening situated at the bar, the night's companions and I took a respite in the adjacent room, where we could still see the stage through the open doorway. There, we procured tapas—it bears noting that, if you're planning to eat, get there early, as the kitchen tends to close more on the 9-ish side of 10 pm—not to mention the always-popular paella, kicked back and compiled a few suggestions.
Sara—remember to enunciate:
It seems simple, but it's the most commonly overlooked thing. Whether singer or public speaker, you wouldn't believe how important it is to over-enunciate your words. When your Ts and Cs start to sound the same, and your Fs and Ss, it tends to detract from your message.
Another singer's tip, but one worth noting nonetheless: When under the public spotlight, it's easy to feel bashful and stare at the floor or, if you're reading from a sheet or book, to hang your head. This is a mistake. In addition to disconnecting you from your audience and forcing your sound toward the floor, this also compresses your neck and jaw, causing your soft palette to collapse. For best results, choose a point on the opposite wall, above your audience's head, and try to project your voice out to that point.
This adage can be applied to many things in life but, in poetry—an art form that, by its very nature, deals in specificity and compression—this is especially true. Modern slam poetry culture might insist on a degree of boisterousness and shock value but, in a more relaxed setting such as El Farol,
goes a long way. Variety is nice, but it's easy to get gimmicky with props—a luchador mask comes to mind—and showmanship. Ask yourself, how is this helping the audience to appreciate the piece? If the answer is "I don't know," it's probably best to leave the extravagance at the table.
POETICA "NIGHT BEAT" POETRY SLAM
808 Canyon Road