Performance and reading
The performance of a poem or a play is a powerful demonstration of how dynamic reading can be. The poet or actor makes the writing come alive in similar ways to how the imagination gives vivid shape and energy to words when we read.
M. NourbeSe Philip and D-Empress Dianne Regisford are two poets for whom performance plays a key role in the communication of their work. Whereas Philip uses only her voice and body to put her message across, D-Empress involves sculptures and other props in her multimedia and multisensory performance pieces.
The following clips show the different effects of these approaches, and demonstrate the extent to which words gain energy by being breathed, chanted, whispered, and sung.
Here, M. NourbeSe Philip reads from her experimental poetic epic, Zong:
In this clip, D-Empress performs ‘Hersto-rhetoric? Na so today!!!’:
LKJ will be in conversation with Prof. Paul Gilroy in Oxford on 26 April (Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre, St Cross Building, Manor Road). The recording will be posted here soon afterwards. Watch this space!
Cite this: “Performance and reading.” Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds, 2017, https://writersmakeworlds.com/on-reading/performance-and-reading/. Accessed 13 April 2018.
More on reading
|Approaches to reading|
|Reading and reception|
|Identifying with literature|