Page Poetry To Stage Poetry With Khalisa Rae

Wildlings, Featured Artist Khalisa Rae is an exceptional performance poet, so on your behalf (and ours!) we asked her for some tips! Here's what she came up with. Enjoy!

Page to Stage Lesson 
Step 1: 

 1. Search the following places for spoken word/poetry slam performances:

 a. Def Poetry Jam
 b. Button Poetry
 c. Poetry Slam INC.

2. Analyze the performances, paying attention to:

 a. Tone/Voice
 b. Eye Contact
 c. Volume
 d. Pace / Rhythm / Length
 e. Content / Relevance

3.  a. Which performance do you like best?
     b. What stood out to you most?

Step 2: Read Through

Read your poem through silently several times to familiarize yourself with the pacing and rhythm. Say the piece in front of the mirror and practice in front of friends.

 Find the rhythm and musicality in each word and try to connect to the reason behind why the words were written and expressed in the first place.

Don't rush through the reading. Find a steady pace and practice reading with authority and emphasis.

 Step 3  : Delivery

Play with your delivery, experimenting with vocal variety.

For example, what happens if you stress this word rather than that word?

Say the poem as many different ways as you can. Try it loud. Try it it soft. Try gathering speed, getting faster and faster, then slow and low.

Step 4: Rehearse 

  • clarity  Are you speaking clearly?
  • meaning  Are the images clear and the meaning clear?
  • speaking rate  Were you speaking too fast or too slowly?
  • voice Are you too high, too low, too soft?

  • Check your posture. Make sure you stand straight and use your diaphragm to project. 
  • You do not need a 'dramatic' voice to be a good performer, the more natural, the better. 
  • Remember to breathe. Holding your breath makes it harder to control your vocal levels and makes your voice pitchy.  
  • Look for natural pauses in the poem to take a breath, for example on a comma or period, decide whether you need a full stop or pause. 
  • Conveying emotional sincerity is the best way to win a crowd over.