fifteen questions+one to/for spoken word sarnia. (in regards to the bywords reading series.)

In a series of questionaires that we plan on sending out, we are getting advice from other reading series that exist currently or have ended recently. How did they go about doing it? When did they get started?

Here is the first in the series from editor Amanda Earl from bywords quarterly.

fifteen questions+one/spoken word groups/collectives, et. al. to/for spoken word sarnia.

one. When did you get started? Who were the founding members/hosts?

2003. Amanda Earl

two. where is your group located?

it isn’t physically located anywhere. votes and editing takes place on line.

three. How often do you meet?

we never physically meet as a group, but we vote monthly and quarterly.

four. what were your intentions with the spoken word group when you began?

none. we have nothing to do with the genre known as spoken word.

five. How many people showed up during your first year? Even your first time out?

between 30 and 60 people per reading.

six. what is the structure of your reading: is it only poetry or is there a variety of other type of performances?

only poetry. those published in the Bywords Quarterly Journal are invited to read for from 5-10 minutes depending on the # of readers.

seven. Are visiting or featured performers included in the structure of your group or is it all open mic? A combination of both?


eight. what was the biggest hurdle you faced when establishing this group?


nine. Over the years, who or what has been the most memorable for you?

publishing emerging poets who haven’t read in public or published their poems before.

ten. Is there a publication that is involved with this group?

yes. The Bywords Quarterly Journal. and if you consider on line magazines a publication,

eleven: what to you hope to accomplish, what is in the future for your reading series?

to continue.

twelve. what is it that makes your reading series distinct? what is the most important aspect of your reading series?

readers are current or former Ottawa residents, students and workers. important-it gives poets a chance to read their work and Ottawa audiences a chance to hear excellent poetry.

thirteen: what is your advice to new readers/performers?

speak slowly. make your poetry work for both the page and the stage.

fourteen: What was your first reading/performance like?

poor. cliche writing and nervousness.

fifteen: what piece advice would you give ours or any other group that is trying to establish themselves?

look into funding. don’t have a bunch of decision-makers. things get done best via dictatorship.

sixteen: ( & an extra one thrown in.) do you have the answer for why it is so damn awkward to read in front of other people. out of
all performance it seems like one of the hardest things to do. What is your sage advice to those who are too nervous to speak in front of others?

the more you do it, the better  you’ll get. nerves are a good thing. anyone who isn’t a bit nervous sharing their work in public probably should do something else. sharing one’s writing is brave and scary.

final thoughts?

change the name of your series from “spoken word” if you want to attract non spoken word folk. or focus on spoken word if that’s your interest, but beware that most literary folk aren’t into spoken word.

Thank you  Amanda Earl for your concise and candid answers.


About spokenwordsarnia

AMP spoken word/poetry/performance/music group out of sarnia, ontario canada current host: jerard Hutchinson past host: melissa upfold admin/photographer:
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One Response to fifteen questions+one to/for spoken word sarnia. (in regards to the bywords reading series.)

  1. i feel badly about this actually. i wrote it in haste, didn’t realize (even though the e-mail said so) that it would be posted on a blog and said things that weren’t entirely acurate or well-considered. i’m normally not so terse or absolute. i apologize.

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