Doing Poetry Right: Poetry Performance Tips

Teachers! Students! Poetry lovers!

Lend me your ears!

I’d like to present the first in what I hope will be several videos to help people get on their feet and share poetry out loud. This introductory video is called


This video will now live permanently on its own pageย under the RESOURCES tab in the navigation bar.

Pass it on!

If you’re so inclined, please share this video with teachers and students who might find it helpful in their own poetic pursuits.

Thank you!

The three video poems used as samples in the tutorial can be found in their entirety here:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
The Moo-Cow-Mooย 

What do I know about poetry performance?ย 
Before becoming a writer (way before), I got an MFA in acting and directing and then an MA in English Education 7-12. I did theater in one capacity or another for seventeen years, and then spent a few more as a high school teacher of English, theater, and public speaking. For me, performing poetry is a combination of all three of these passions. And I love it! I hope you will, too.

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  1. Dear Renee,

    I love your video on doing poetry right. Thank you for making this one. It deserves to become widely distributed in schools and writing groups everywhere. Itโ€™s that good!

    1. I was lucky to get a sneak peek yesterday thanks to Amy LV. Not only is the essence of your video so helpful for teachers and students and others who want to have tips for presenting a poem, the way you made the video is very appealing. I loved your insertions of the text and the comical asides!! I would like a tip or two on how to do that. My students learn to recite over 40 poems by year’s end. Since they work as a group with minimal adult interference, they can get sing-songy, however if the teacher gives a nicely expressive reading at the first (number of times) they can help the children with tone and mood and pacing. Bravo, again to the very talented Renee. I agree with David. As a side note, Renee, there is a video on Youtube of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening read/presented by Susan Sarandon. Her choices really informed my teaching. As will yours. Learning poems by heart is not rote learning.. I don’t know what the top-limit would be to knowing poems, but I am a believer that we all have a greater capacity than we realize. 99% of the kids I have worked with love doing this! And approach it eagerly!

  2. That was fantastic advice Renee, you are so good at this! My friend will be filming me so hopefully it can come on here, though I bet I’ll be so nervous. I love your Jabbawacky poem. Is that in Lizard Lou? Thanks, Renee!

  3. Renee, you are SO good!!! This will really come in handy for future readings!!

    You couldn’t have done this BEFORE I read my poem?!

  4. I too will pass this on, Renee, for the teachers in my school, also the Frost video too. Loved all, & think you helped much as far as the deliberateness of reading poetry. I liked the extra examples you showed (instead of just talking). Young teachers could use something like this for when they read aloud to their students-expression and pauses are so important. Thank you!

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