Readings Made Simple: A workshop with Andrew J Borokowski

Last month I attended the Readings Made Simple workshop hosted jointly by The Writers Union of Canada and Diaspora Dialogues and led by Andrew J Borokowski. The event was a fun one, held in four parts:

  1. Andrew asking us about our public reading experience and sharing insights from his own experience
  2. An opportunity for us to read our work in a circle and get feedback
  3. A brief break followed by general stage/mic set up information and stretching
  4. An opportunity for us to read our work on stage through a mic

The workshop was insightful – an afternoon well spent. Key takeaways from the event for me included the following pointers from Andrew:

  • The challenge [with readings] can be how to get the poet out of the way – to let the words sing themselves” (so true!)
  • A reading is intended to convey the gist or flavour of a story, chapter, or book, and hopefully encourage your audience to buy what you are reading. As a result, material needs to be
    • Introduced (think about how you will do this/think about your introduction in advance)
    • Bridged (if you are reading from separate sections of the work)
    • Relative (think of how separate components of the reading relate to one another)
  • Control your gestures. Let your voice speak. Deliver your reading with honesty and conviction and “lift it up” (look up at the audience to bring your work to life)
  • If you’re extra nervous, invite a friend to be part of the audience and tell them the story
  • Ultimately “it’s telling the story, not giving a reading

My absolute favourite part of the workshop: the gentle reminder that readings are often central to an author’s promotional strategy and, though many authors may dread the public speaking aspect of it, the reading is not about the author – it’s about the work.

Thanks to Andrew, TWUC and DD for hosting a great event!

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