Recite! Read! Critique! Edit!

Recite! Read! Critique! Edit!

Playing to the crowd; polish your pieces through the poetics of performance.

This course will give feedback on how you read your poems to a live audience and, simultaneously, use that to help workshop and positively critique your poems. Writing poetry is one challenge, but ‘delivering’ your poem, or several poems, to a potential audience at a live reading, is another. However, the two things are also intimately inter-twined. Your breath-capacity, the sound of your voice, accent, the cadences you write in, your ordinary speaking voice compared to your reading or recitation voice. All these things inter-relate, and play a big part in how your work will come across to an audience.  

Examining the reading of a poem, and being conscious of what you want your work to achieve in live settings, can not only positively affect the way your poetry comes across but also fold back into fresh ways of editing and re-drafting the poems themselves, helping to bring your work closer to how you are, or want to be. 

NOTE: Although this course isn’t specifically focused on ‘performance’ or ‘spoken word’ poems, it will examine the degree[s] of performance involved in reading poems live [and how we’re all performing to some degree, even when we’re not], alongside how this can open up insights into improving your poems overall. Whatever type of poet you are, if you have poems-on-the-page and want to explore their potential as poems-off-the-page with developmental feedback and instruction, this course is for you. 

Over six fortnightly, 2-hour sessions, you’ll get the opportunity to read new work to the rest of the group [the audience] who will then, under the direction of the tutor, join in a positive critique of both your reading and also, by extension, the poem itself, in effect merging the usual poetry workshop format with the rehearsal of a live gig. The final session will be as close to an actual gig as possible, before an invited audience. 

6 fortnightly sessions on Thursdays, 7–9pm (GMT), starts 16 May 2024. Sessions for this course will take place at The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX.

Concessions & Accessibility

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected]; conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions, wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, or require any form of adjustment to access our courses, please email [email protected]For more information visit our In Person Courses page.

Image credit: @girlwithredhat 

About Matthew Caley View Profile

Matthew Caley’s 7th collection, To Abandon Wizardry, was published by Bloodaxe in November 2023. Since his debut, Thirst [ Slow Dancer, 1999] was nominated for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection, his work has been widely anthologised and appeared in many magazines, websites and journals. He has given many readings both in th UK and abroad.  

In addition to being a regular tutor/mentor for The Poetry School in London, he has recently held Poetry/Creative Writing posts at St Andrews University [twice], at The University of Winchester, and Royal Holloway University London. He gave the StAnza 2020 Lecture in March. Trawl, a video-piece made in collaboration with Steve Smart and Alex South and commissioned by StAnza 2020, was shown there and at poem-film Festivals in Berlin and Texas. He published a pamphlet of loose versions of 19th/20th Century French poets Prophecy is Easy, with Blueprint Press, in 2020. He is a member of the scientific and organizing committee for the International Semiotics and Visual Communication conference – Cyprus University of Technology and has three times given key-note talks there. 

He previously taught in Art & Design for many years, collaborated with artist and musicians, co-edited and wrote for a book on the pop song in cinema, and before that was involved in design for the arts and music industries, co-designing, amongst other things, the packaging for Prefab Sprout’s debut LP Swoon 

‘Chief among British poets Caley takes seriously the vision of synesthetic abundance laid out in Mallarme’s essay ‘Crisis and Verse’…[ ] Caley is a great poet of transposition and vibration… [ ] Caley at his very best, an offhand philosopher and bard of the demi-monde, gently blowing our minds.’ – Dai George POETRY WALES 

"Matthew is a superb teacher who sets high standards but is warm and constructive about all the work. He brings a wide variety of stimuli and background reading. He is extremely well prepared and also very helpfully gives a joyous summation of group work and discussion following each session as well as setting follow up reading and assignments. He doesn't just inspire you to write poetry, he makes you think."

- Autumn 2023 survey response

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