Reading Poetry Aloud

 So you have just had a poem published in a good journal or even had a book manuscript accepted by a publisher. You feel you have accomplished something, and you should. But now you have to read your poetry to an audience. If you’re published, you need to get your work out into the world. This is not my favorite activity either.  I just finished a reading this week with seven other poets, and felt my inadequacies. 

Poetry is one of the hardest genres to read aloud. Every poem has its own rhythm, can contain rhyme, and often uses fragments or phrases to form lines. This is drastically different from the complete sentences which we are all used to.  Figuring out how to read a line of poetry is unique from interpreting how to read a line of prose. If you don’t read well, you’ll often lose people in your audience.

I do know that people who have done many readings get better at it.  It’s a simple act of “practice makes perfect.”  I’m on my second collection of poetry and I know that reading your poetry aloud will elicit interest.  I’ve had people listen to me read and buy my book. I’ve also read on the radio, and this also elicits interest.  My recently published book, Touch My Head Softly, can be viewed here:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Photo by Giovanni Alecrim on Pexels.com

“There are dozens of unfinished or aborted projects in my files, but I can only assume they don’t get done because they’re not robust enough to struggle through the birth process.” – Grant Morrison

I have many unfinished poems. Billy Collins says five or six poems wind up in his trash bin before he gets one that’s a keeper.

The concept of being complete is an interesting one. If you are complete, you don’t have to strive to do anything else. You don’t have to reinvent yourself.

We can change as we develop new skills, new experiences, new outlooks. That’s what makes the writing interesting. We adapt to new circumstances and overcome limitations. This affects our writing.

I wrote a book that was just published by Finishing Line Press:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

After it was published, I floundered for awhile, trying to write different things, but not really liking any of the new work. Then I started on a new longer poem about the drowning earth. Here’s an excerpt:

The Boat

“Cuando sale la luna, el mar cubre la tierra

When the moon rises, water covers the earth”

                        –Federico García Lorca

I want to begin with the boat.  It was a thing of beauty.

Can one be seduced by a boat? I was.

This project intrigued me and I continue to work on it today. How do you stay engaged with your writing?

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Rich Michelson Interviews Eileen P. Kennedy about her New Book of Poems

Rich Michelson, author, art dealer and former poet laureate of Northampton, MA, will interview Eileen P. Kennedy on April 27 at 9:15 am EDT on Northampton Poetry Radio, WHMP, 101.5 FM/1240 and 1400 AM about her new collection of poems, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021.)

The new collection touches on her experiences with her partner who died of Alzheimer’s Disease in his sixties. Part of the proceeds of the book will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Her first collection, Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015,) was nominated for a Pushcart and awarded second prize in the Wordwrite Book Awards. If you can’t listen live, check out the interview on the whmp.com website:

https://whmp.com/podcasts/shows/bill-newman/

You can check out the book here:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

You can donate to the Alzheimer’s Association at:

ALZ.org

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Rich Michelson Interviews Eileen P. Kennedy about her New Book of Poems

Rich Michelson, author, art dealer and former poet laureate of Northampton, MA, will interview Eileen P. Kennedy on April 27 at 9:15 am EDT on Northampton Poetry Radio, WHMP, 101.5 FM/1240 and 1400 AM about her new collection of poems, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021.)

The new collection touches on her experiences with her partner who died of Alzheimer’s Disease in his sixties. Part of the proceeds of the book will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Her first collection, Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015,) was nominated for a Pushcart and awarded second prize in the Wordwrite Book Awards. If you can’t listen live, check out the interview on the whmp.com website:

https://whmp.com/podcasts/shows/bill-newman/

You can check out the book here:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

You can donate to the Alzheimer’s Association at:

ALZ.org

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How do you revise?

You have a poem that has some interesting ideas or rhythms, but it’s just not making it? Here are some things I do when I revise a poem to work:

Take some of your lines, split them down the middle, and regroup them e.g.:

Here are the shelves of unread books

An immigrant who stands on the edge of the forest

becomes: Here are the shelves on the edge of the forest

An immigrant who stands on unread books.

Or try to take a poem and erase words, e.g.

In first grade

We learned the names of dandelions and birch trees?

Forgot them & relearned them. 

They didn’t make much sense to us,

because we were in New York City

where there weren’t many flowers or trees.

becomes:

Trilliums, sweetgum trees,

forgetting, relearning.

No sense,

New York City,

No flowers or trees.

Try rewriting your poem from a different viewpoint:

Two brothers planted a sequoia in the orchard one afternoon

becomes: All afternoon my brother and I worked in the orchard planting a sequoia.

When I wrote my new book, Touch My Head Softly, I went through many revises:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy

What do you do to revise?

I will be posting on Thursdays, and on Tuesdays, if I have an announcement.

My new poetry collection can be viewed here:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Here is the link to my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

“I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.” –Mary Oliver

I am a writer and a swimmer and really related to this quote from Mary Oliver, the great Pulitzer-Prize winning poet. During this dark pandemic period, I find both writing and swimming have sustained me. I’m grateful I get to reserve a lane at my gym and swim six days a week (never on Sunday.) I have also been writing through this pandemic and I feel like it has been a lifesaver. It gives me purpose.

I wrote a collection of poems about my experiences with my partner, who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties. I feel grateful that Finishing Line is publishing this work and it will be out in the world. The work around the publication, particularly, has sustained me during this dark time.

This is the link to my book at Finishing Line:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

This is the link to my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com