Case Study: Performance of Poetry

Amanda Gorman

Lesson time 21:20 min

Amanda gives an in-depth lesson on poetry performance with a guided walk-through performance of a student’s poem.

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Topics include: Case Study: Performance of Poetry * Overall Performance: Topics - Body & Voice * Verse One & Two: Words & Pronunciation * Verse Three: Emphasis, Pauses, Intimacy & Energy * Verse Four: Face & Gaze * “The Man the Color of Midnight”


[MUSIC PLAYING] - We are back with the lovely Ariel Davis. And now we're going to work on reciting a poem for performance. So can you tell us the name of the composition you are going to read now? - "The Man the Color of Midnight." - Oh, OK, snaps to that. I would just love to hear you read the poem on your own speed. You can, if you like, pretend there's an audience there. You don't even have to look at me. I'm just here to enjoy and participate. - OK. "A friend walks me home in the night. Our path is dimly lit by flickering street lamps. We are Black, but of different shades. Me, caramel, he a coffee bean. Long and lean, we stretch our legs, dipping our toes into the pools of light. Black on black on black against the night. Him, big lips, brown eyes. Me, pink, eyes green. Never before have I loved a man the color of Midnight. As we walk, I watch as he fades in and out of sight. Invisible in the dark, glistening in the light. Lanky limbs swing loosely, sinews pulled taut. You would never think someone American, like me, would fall for someone who speaks fluently a language that is not my own. There is pride in his stride, passed down through a long lineage of tradition and rituals. He comes from the dust kicked up by ceremonial dances, the clangs from cowbells and the trappings of drums. Oh, how I long to be a part of it all. He is my Heaven on Earth, my first chance at ecstasy in the warmth of his arms, my shield from harsh sunlight. And yet as we walk, he has not the slightest notion of my unwavering, silent devotion." - Yay. Giving you applause. The crowd goes wild. Yeah. - Thank you. - I also want to thank you because it takes a lot of bravery to get up on stage and recite your poem. What I really liked about your recitation is that you have a very clear sense of the rhythm and the meter that you want to set for your own poem so you understand the line. I think having that type of intrinsic connection to the words that you write is brilliant. [MUSIC PLAYING] Just some things that I'd like to try out to start would be, I think one of the fundamentals when you're reciting a poem, even before you look at the content or the page, is just body posture, things like that. So you're standing nice and tall, which is great. I want you to see if you can kind of drop your shoulders down. Yes. Gorgeous. - I get very tense. - I do, too. I will look in the mirror and my shoulder is like there. I'm like, when did it get there? Something I do all the time is I'll take a deep breath and then I'll exhale on stage before I recite. And it just makes my shoulders go down. But also what it does is by inhaling and exhaling, it makes sure that I'm starting, from the get-go of my poem, on a kind of stable, even breath. The good thing is that your knees aren't too kind of heavily locked, because I've seen people do that and like pass out. -...

About the Instructor

Bestselling author. Electrifying performer. The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Amanda Gorman has revitalized poetry as a unifying form of expression and catalyst for social justice. Now she’s teaching you her deeply personal approach to writing. She’ll help you find your poetic purpose, fight through revisions, and prepare for performance. Discover poetry’s transcendent power to open minds and create change.

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Amanda Gorman

Award-winning Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman teaches you how to harness the power of poetry to become a more thoughtful, compassionate person.

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