Before playing rock, paper, scissors to see who would present first, we talked about our personal goals for our first session. We wanted to explore pacing, practise enunciation, and rehearse recovering when we messed up. We also wanted to build confidence in relating with our audience and in presenting our own as well as others’ work. We each read our selected poem twice, with discussion in between of how we reached our goals or what tips from our reading and discussion might help us do so. Applying our notes to our second go-round was a dynamic challenge.
Ann chose Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem,"It would be neat if with the New Year." Ann’s reading made us aware of how a selection can immediately win over an audience. In this case, not only was Ann’s reading topical since it was five days after New Years when all our resolutions are fresh in our minds, but her choice was generous, sharing an introduction with her listeners to a South Western US poet unfamiliar to us.
We realized there was a third reason it was an excellent choice for a presentation. Ann’s goal was clear enunciation, which is a great goal in general for a presenter, but also for this particular poem, which turns on surprise. Listeners didn’t know where Baca's boots were going to take us and there was the feeling of curiosity about the content driving the audience to pay great attention, with a wonderful payoff for doing so in the final line. Enunciation was essential to getting to that payoff when the way there, via an extended metaphor, was winding and idiosyncratic.