While at university, I acted in a lot of student drama, learning how to project to an audience without overacting, and there's no doubt in my mind that the experience has held me in good stead when giving poetry readings.
What's more, drama was great fun, so I was delighted when a friend recently asked me to do a bit of acting over here in Spain for a short promotional film about local wines (I play a British wine critic!). Once we started work, the director immediately picked up on my stage experience and corrected it. He explained that the techniques we use on stage then seem histrionic on film. The latter medium requires more natural intimacy, addressing an individual rather than an audience.
These last few days, meanwhile, have seen me making recordings of some of my poems for an exciting new project (more on that in future posts!). While doing so and listened back to what I'd read, I realised that the above-mentioned difference between theatre and film also exists between reading to an audience or into a microphone. In the latter case, you have to imagine that you're in a one-on-one situation instead of in front of rows of people. Different media demand different reading techniques.
Derek Walcott, poet and playwright of Saint Lucia, died on 17 March at the age of 87. I think I recall my first Derek Walcott poem. It was 'The Season o...