Hello authors, contributors and readers. It has been so interesting following the discussions on this blog and engaging in them as well. I was so grateful for the discussion that started on poetry slams. I am first and foremost (if not only) a poet who writes and performs frequently.
It has been an interesting experience moving between the page and stage. I often borrow from one arena to enrich the other but unfortunately find myself compromising my vision for the sake of the platform and audience.
The writing process
I find that when I sit to write for the page, I have a more critical eye but also tend to experiment more since there is no concern with responding to physical or real time feedback. It is also more likely readers will take their time to explore the writing and reflect on it, so I do not worry the work will be misunderstood.
(At this point it becomes clear how self-conscious of a writer I am.)
In writing for the stage, I worry more about the narrative and simplifying the work. I often sacrifice the concise line for a longer, more indulgent line that I believe the audience will enjoy. When I reflect on my performance pieces, they tend towards entertainment.
I have to appreciate that moving back and forth between the two platforms gives me a heightened awareness of an audience. I am a selfish writer, usually focused inwards especially in my initial drafts. But as I develop a piece I edit with the reader or audience in mind. This is only important in that it fulfils my need to feel I am putting something out there that is of use to others.
The best of both worlds?
Performing has put me to task to keep writing and produce new and original work. I often borrow from these pieces to develop something deeper and more satisfying to the mind and soul. Performing has also helped me develop my voice as poet by sharpening me against other poets.
I find writing for the page more challenging but, by far, more fulfilling. I feel the page expresses my intentions with more sincerity. But I do not prefer one over the other. More people have been moved by my performances than by my written work.
What I do find difficult is reciting poetry meant for the page. To share something out loud that I intended to be read always flusters me and I end up explaining away the significance.
Still, I carry a persistent fear that I can’t serve two masters. Being open to both forms gives me so much, but it may be taking more away.
What has your experience been with writing poetry for the page versus the stage?