Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I Learn My Lines

When I perform 'The Seven Rages of Woman' as part of Threesome, I recite my poems from memory.   At first, I thought it would be easy to learn lines I'd written myself off-by-heart, but it isn't.

The way I do it is by repeating the words aloud over and over as I drive to work.  As a result of learning my lines in this way, the miles go by less noticed, and  I once arrived unexpectedly in Nantwich.

When I write, there is something about the act of writing words on paper which helps to create the poem.  For me, a poem starts with a spoken or thought phrase; I write the words down to develop the idea.  Unlike some poets, I can't find poems solely in speech or in my head - I make them by hand.  Maybe this explains the challenge of learning them.

If I forget my lines in performance, I make up new ones.  I think I can do this because  I've spent years standing in front of students having to make things up on the spur of the moment. When I say, 'make things up', I don't mean that I lie.  I mean that I reconstruct my knowledge there and then in response to their questions.  

The lines of poetry I make up are the ones I've forgotten, but in a different order.  When I leave one out altogether,after the show, I feel a sense of loss.

My next performance is in two days' time.  I'll be talking to myself in the car tomorrow.

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