Jerri Hardesty, award winning poet, publisher and former President of the Alabama State Poetry Society, was the guest speaker at the April 8th meeting of Pensters. Jerri has received more than 1000 poetry awards and has had more than 350 poems published.
During her presentation, she discussed ways to inspire and entertain through poetry performance. She described “slam poetry” as telling a story, like prose, and said that poetry can become much like a dance. She advised reconnecting to the moment the poem was written, being aware of the voice and tone of the poem. Jerri has taken somber works and performed them lightly for effect and has read funny poems in a serious manner, adding to the levity of the words.
She also advised reading and reciting the poem in front of a mirror in order to improve presentation. She illustrated several pointers, including posture, stance, use of silences, and stretching or emphasizing words to enhance meaning and clarity. She challenged the group to “experience, to live and to embody the poem,” adding that the performance can become transcendent for the poet as well as the audience. Several volunteers read their works, and Jerri showed the group techniques to stress words and phrases in order to enliven a performance and bring a poem to life for the audience.