Spoken word for the socially shy

I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to spoken word. I really enjoy writing it, even though these days it’s with a sleeping toddler stretched across me in rural Brazil and not unhinderedly alone in my room in North London.

It’s a bit tricky to ‘perform’ spoken word when you don’t actually like people looking at you and you are frantically pretending that there’s no-one there.

On the one occasion that I performed a poem live with my eyes open, I followed the tip I had been given to choose a fixed point at the back of the room and just speak to that point. Brilliant, I picked out a bottle up behind the bar and off I went, except that, being a bit literal-minded, when a friend unknowingly walked in front of that bottle to listen I didn’t move my gaze, and she got an exclusive performance of my poem which was nearly six minutes long. That was an unnerving six minutes for both of us.

Although I balked at the suggestion at the time, I now find it much easier to record my spoken word poems on video and then share them online. That way I feel like I’ve done my part. Previously the thought of sharing poems online terrified me as I’ve always suffered from a fear of rejection, but that has less of a grip on me now, praise God! Where I’ve shared my poems at online open mic style events, it has definitely been most comfortable when the only person I can see is myself.

You can find a less unnerving version of the spoken word poem mentioned above and the story behind it here.

How do you find performing poetry? Are there any tips or tricks you’ve picked up that make it easier?

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