By an eHow Contributor
These days people talk about ‘spoken word’ as its own genre within the realm of music or sound recordings. But a ‘spoken word concert’ is not much different from the ‘poetry readings’ of older times. Now that poetry is unofficially dead, many prefer to refer to readings as ‘spoken word,’ particularly because it’s become popular to read prose or unidentifiable free verse instead. ‘Spoken word artists’ generally rely much more on the dynamic inflections of multi-cultural speech patterns than the archaic styles and scansion of classical poetry. But when it comes to facilitating a reading or ‘concert,’ well, that process hasn’t changed too much. Read on to learn how to plan a spoken word concert.
- Find your venue. Some ‘spoken word purists’ abjure ‘commercial’ areas, seeking out tiny, independently run businesses in major cities. But for others, a chain retail store is preferable, offering more exposure and better word of mouth possibilities. For these groups, Barnes and Noble still allows gatherings in corners of its stores for ‘spoken word.’
- Gather your ‘artists.’ When it comes to a reading, the more the merrier; try to get a good number of readers to commit. If you by chance know someone who is notorious around the neighborhood for something or other, that’s a big plus.
- Get a ‘backup performer.’ If you are going to be acting as the ‘moderator’ of the event, consider doing the job yourself. The moderator holds the microphone, passing it off to volunteers in turn. If there are no volunteers, the backup performer takes the stage and runs until someone steps up. Being the backup can be a tough job: if all of your spoken word artists get last-minute stage jitters or arrive an hour late, you’ll be up there on stage running dry. The best backup is someone with a real gift of gab, able to narrate endlessly and with passion.
- Let the masses know: spoken word is not dead. Post flyers in and around your venue advertising the event. When it comes to spoken word, it’s really good to use a ‘hook’ to get people in the door. Names may not mean anything (unless Stephen King is planning to show up), so if you have a roster of names, try adding the relevant histories of these artists in ways that would intrigue a general audience, like PAUL COMMON: CLIMBED MT. EVEREST, WRESTLED A BEAR!
- Get there early. Do a sound check, set up chairs, brew coffee and arrange details so that the venue looks good when your first guests arrive.