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8 Top Tips for Narrating Poetry: The Ultimate Guide

Megan MacBride

Megan MacBride

4 February 2022

8 Top Tips for Narrating Poetry: The Ultimate Guide - Voquent

Valentine’s Day is upon us. As we move into the month of love, it makes sense to explore media that pulls the heartstrings: Poetry.

Whether you are excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a significant other or looking forward to closing yourself in for the night and eating chocolate alone. We will give you the latter option for this one; there are styles of writing that have become very popular this time of year.

Poetry. Whether you read it, write it or speak it, is a vital art in the writing world and should be celebrated as such. 

 

The Resurgence of Poetry Narration

According to The Guardian, who wrote an extensive article in 2019 about the rise in popularity of poetry books states that poetry book sales have gone up 12% – hello Rupi Kaur, anyone? That is £12.3m in sales!

Milk & Honey book cover.

In an even more recent article by Fal Writing, young people (under 34) have taken online to read and listen to poetry. “Instapoetry”, which is the mesh of “Instagram” and “poetry”, allows authors to share their content with the world. It has become a wildly popular practice as social media takes over the internet. Publishing houses are now noticing these famous poets online and helping them get a poetry book published more than ever.

 

“You are still telling a tale, even if it is a poem. However, depending on the style of poetry, then the presentation can be very different, much more like a performance.” –C.C. Hogan

 

Top Tips for Narrating Poetry

Now, this is where you come in. There is a slight difference in presentation than narrating a book when it comes to narration poetry. Here are some helpful tips to follow when you are narrating a poem!

 

  1. Get confident: Since poetry is more of a performance than a simple narration, it is vital to be confident in your abilities to start the recording. (Don’t be afraid to give yourself a little pep talk beforehand, we all do it.)Many people who perform poetry aren’t trained, so why are they so good? They are not just reading words on a page; they take the time to understand where the author wrote these words, their pain, joy, and sadness. Trying to put yourself in the author’s shoes will set you up for success.
  2. Practice: I cannot express this enough, but practice does make perfect. Try different styles of reading. Record yourself speaking fast, record yourself speaking slow, and see what the best fit for the poem type is. Try emphasizing words, add pauses between sentences, get creative!
  3. Don’t be afraid of retakes: Especially if you are new to this, it’s better to record yourself as much as you need to get it right. On average, you should aim for at least 5 to 6 takes before submission.
  4. Do not act out the character: Although it may be very tempting to act out or narrate as the poem’s character, your goal is to act as the poet. Try this simple tactic: act out the emotion, like anger; anger is the easiest emotion to act out in a poem. You essentially can go on a rant and use that anger to fuel your feeling.Emotions like love call for a gentle tone of voice. In contrast, joy and happiness can foster a loud and exemplified voice.
  5. Pretend you are speaking to one person: If you imagine too large of an audience, you can run the risk of depersonalizing a poem. Pretend you are talking to one person and give them all the energy you can muster into narrating that poem to them.
  6. When in doubt, read slow: Although this tip depends on what kind of poem you are reading, your listeners can’t see your lips as you speak, so it is best to keep it slow. As the famous saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”
  7. Don’t forget the context: If the poem you are reading offers any authors notes or context, make sure to read it clearly for the listeners to understand.
  8. Always look for inspiration: Watch Slam poetry on Youtube to understand how others use their tone of voice when reciting poems.

 

Lastly, I will leave you with this, have fun with it. Poetry is meant to be personal and express feelings and emotions; capitalize on that. Use your creativity to make the narration your own and, of course, enjoyable for the reader. Now nail that audition!

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Megan MacBride

By Megan MacBride

Multitalented professional who specializes as a Marketing specialist, professional writer and digital marketer from the United States of America. Hobbies include reading, writing, paddle boarding & snowboarding.

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