Other than using search engines to find readings/readers, the following sites are rich with content–more than we could get through in a lifetime:
Links to sites about readings:
By now you have learned a great deal (I hope) about delivering your writing on the page and how readers might respond. Readings, though, are a much different matter when it comes to delivery. Writing on the page, whether it’s an actual hard copy or its functional, on-screen equivalent, presents readers with a document that is made to last. When readers interact with these texts, they have the option to return to them again and again over time, should they so choose. As authors delivering text for the page, we should be mindful of the status of a text.
Readings, on the other hand, find a great analogy in music. What is made for the page might be compared with an album or track. It is composed by the band, revised and produced over a period of time and then delivered in a media that is meant to last, meant for repetition, like CDs or more commonly, digital music files like mp3s. Musical artists and producers collaborate on many of the same choices that writers work on individually when making a track or album, like invention, arrangement, revision, and delivery/memory. A reading then, is analogous with the recital, concert, or performance. In my opinion, the best concerts I’ve attended showcase the relationship between the performer and audience, and the less successful concerts sound exactly like the album version. In fact, at these shows, I’ve wondered why I don’t just stay home, save my money, and skip the concert.
In readings, then, I feel like it is our duty as readers to be mindful of the audience and give them something that goes beyond what is on the page, or at least, reveals our awareness that the work on the page differs from performance. A recent trend in readings, it seems, is for readers to read their work without affect, as if their mere authorly presence were enough for the audience. On the far opposite end of the spectrum are readers whose work is intended solely for performance, like slam poets, who use the page as a means to their own performative ends, dramatizing their reading for the audience. While I respect these readings and understand that it is no easy feat to perform work compellingly, I find that it is not realistic to expect everyone to perform their work in that way.
In the end, the way you perform your work has to jive with your personality, while still having that je nais se quoi, that something indescribable that makes a reading memorable for the audience. In my experience with readings, this something else that you can offer your audience comes from knowing your work really well and understanding how to manipulate your performance so that the best part of your piece stands out.
Let’s say you know you’ve got a really great line in a poem that might sound awesome read aloud, have memorable images, and also key into the conceptual core, the essence of the poem itself. In this case, you owe it to the audience to make that line memorable. If you listen closely at readings, you can often hear an audible gasp from audience members when readers who know how to deliver these kinds of lines well do just that.
For the most part, tone, pauses, and cadence will be the tactics you use to draw out the best performative elements of the piece you read. A shift in tone of voice functions to show the arc of a work you are reading. In a sense, tone of voice in readings works a lot like the literary term “tone,” the author’s attitude toward the subject tey are writing about. Pauses are equally important, and in my opinion, take a great deal of practice to get right. As you know from public speaking you’ve done, you will most likely be nervous or anxious before the performance. When you read, you will have to work against rushing through the piece you are reading, but doing this is absolutely necessary. Going back to the idea of Shklovsky’s enstrangement, the very essence of how creative writing work on its audience is by making us pause, so readers have to allow these enstranged moments of a text room to be absorbed, digested, thought on. But it is a performance, so a balance must be struck between pauses and moving forward enough to keep the continuity of the work going.
Cadence is related to both tone and pauses. It is the way you accent your work when you read it aloud. In what parts of a reading should you speed up? When should you slow down? Should you put different emphasis on different words? How will you do this? All these things should be considered and practiced. The only way to understand what works is to practice and experiment. This is how you build a knowledge of how your work should be performed in a way that the audience can take away a memory of your work. As a friend of mine says on attending readings, “one line from a reading can change your perspective, change your worldview, change your life.” Are you up for that challenge?
Now, let’s look at some YouTube videos of readings from different genres:
These questions provide a chance for you to reflect on creative writing. Please answer these questions in a post on your blog. Your answers will not be graded for content, and there are no right answers. Please be honest.
Directions: Copy and paste this questionnaire into a new MS Word document or blog post. Please answer the following questions as honestly and in as much detail as possible. Your thoughts and suggestions will aid me as I revise the course to teach it again.
I often use writing samples from past students as models in my classroom. Please check one of the boxes and type in your name and today’s date below:
__ I give you permission to use writing samples from my English 227 portfolio
__ I do not give you permission to use writing samples from my English 227 portfolio
Read the NYT article.
November 12, 2009 by stevehalle77
Even though making sure the writing is happening daily/habitually and is of high quality should always be our top priority, most of us will also want to attempt to get published so our work can be read. In our class, we have a captive audience of readers who are willing, and often eager, to read and respond to our work. Once class ends, it’s back to being on our own with the writing (unless y’all keep meeting with your small groups or latch on with another group or form your own writer’s group HINT HINT!), and you may find yourself getting the itch to send work out and see if there’s an audience for it.
When writing cover letters and putting together a submission manuscript for publication, pay close attention to the publication’s published submission guidelines and make sure you know what kind of work they publish. In general, it is best to be concise when crafting cover letters. I’ll bring an annotated sample to class tomorrow.
Envelope size does not matter, in my opinion, and the majority of submissions are in 4 1/8 x 9 1/2 plain white envelopes (two folds of submission; fold in thirds), which easily fit six pages and folded SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope). Second in popularity is the letter-sized yellow/manila envelope (no folds). Third is the mid-size envelope (one fold of submission). Personally, I like the large, letter-sized envelope because it provides the reader with a clean copy–no folds, and the submission can be paper clipped together. I think this affords me the most control over how my print submission is viewed.
For online journals, follow the submission guidelines to the letter: does the publication want submissions attached? what format (pdf, .rtf, .doc, etc.)? as one document? or one document per poem? in the body of the e-mail? do they publish formally experimental work (HTML is a killer for projective work that uses the space of the page)? do they have a style guide?
I hope this helps and provides some practical information about publishing, the business side of creative writing.