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.