During the last couple of weeks, my young creative writers have been more than enthusiastic about reading their poems to primary school children across London. I was impressed by their improvisation skills as well as their bravery, since a few even adapted one or two lines to suit their audience (like toning down their worries about coming to secondary school and focussing on the fun).
It got me thinking about my young writers last year, who did a mix of poetry and stories. Stories are harder to read to an audience. Besides having to choose a short one, so as not to take up half the day, the rhythm of poetry makes it easier to read, even when reading free verse. When I’ve read some of my stories to an audience, I’ve found that I’ve had to breathe mid-sentence, creating a pause where on paper there wouldn’t necessarily be one. Of course, a lot of people are better at acting than me and can go the whole distance without so much as a hesitation! Reading to an audience is performance – a better skill would be to have the poem or story memorised. I’m still working on this myself!