For our practice presentations, Matt read “Somewhere Holy” by Carl Phillips and I read “Tamer and Hawk” by Thom Gunn. Phillips’ poem is highly colloquial in its syntax, diction and phrasing. Gunn’s is formal, turning on paradox. In spite of these elemental differences, we discovered they posed some remarkable, common challenges.
Each poem has logical and emotional layers that are intensely demanding for the presenter and listener. The more the presenter's voice was able to synthesize the complexity of these layers simultaneously the more fully we each appreciated these poems.
Bringing Richard Burton's trained acting skill to bear on the complex demands of a poem is worth aspiring to but realistically, if delivering the effect simultaneously isn't possible, delivering it serially should be an option.When I'm presenting another poet’s work, I like to offer the audience an alternative to the expectation that something as complex as a poem can be fully appreciated in one pass. David White,
a poet from Whidbey Island and a very experienced presenter, repeats several lines of his poems multiple times and continues on only when he's satisfied the audience is ready. He may choose to repeat many different chunks of the same poem before he reaches the end.