Shake the Dust’s Shadow Artist, Raymond Antrobus gave up his job as a Personal Trainer to pursue a career as a Spoken Word artist. As the Shake the Dust Regional finals are in full swing Ray lets Shake the Dust in on the 12 steps he recommends when perusing a career in Spoken Word.
1. Read as hard as you write.
It’s all-good being pretty on stage but good writing is just as important.
2. Get A Collective/Collaborate in a group.
I’ve managed to achieve more being part a poetry collective with poets, Mista Gee, Deanna Rodger & Simon Mole who are friends but more importantly – talented, hungry and energetic.
3. Get honest and constructive feedback on your work.
This is tricky – You need someone who understands your style/voice and isn’t just going to mould your work to suit their taste. You also need someone who is honest enough to tell you when your ideas aren’t working.
4. Engage with the community/ Have a web presence.
Use blogs / social networking sites and engage with your fans/potential fans and other poets/writers/performers. Share the work of other artists you admire – if you’re too “me me me” you become boring and annoying FAST!
5. Have more than one Project.
Make music, write a poetry collection/novel, write a show, play, spoken word album, take up acting/ voice acting / theatre.
The beauty of spoken word is it ties into many art forms.
6. Travel and network with the national/international poetry scenes.
Bands tour and so should poets! – To date I’ve performed in New York, Chicago, Venice, Berlin, Cape Town, Edinburgh as well as around the UK. This has taught me a lot about craft and always seems to reaffirm my love of poetry/spoken word and how amazing/powerful it is as an engagement tool with people.
In 2010 Chill Pill set up a poetry night in a Brick Lane basement bar and it became surprisingly popular after acts like Scroobius Pip, Polarbear, Kate Tempest, Ed Sheeran, David J etc came through our doors. All we did was create the kind of night we wanted to go to and it worked.
I will say events management is a skill, know how to book and pace your poetry event so people leave saying “that was amazing!” as opposed to “that was a lot of words”.
8. Make Poetry Films Not War.
If it’s good and you have strong web presence you might go viral!
9. Don’t take Slam too seriously.
Slam poetry is only one genre of performance poetry. It’s great to win a slam but try not to let it influence your work or your self worth too much. Treat it as a training ground for honing your craft.
I haven’t been teaching for very long. In fact I lead my first class this week with my Shake The Dust Team but I definitely see how teaching informs your own creative process. Teaching isn’t for everyone so if you’re not into it don’t force it.
11. Remember some people will love your work and some will hate it no matter what!
You can’t cater for everyone’s taste so if someone doesn’t like your work and you define that as a bad gig, don’t take it personally. If you can crack this you will become so much more comfortable on stage.
12. Attend workshops, poetry nights & support your local poets!
For more on Raymond Antrobus visit www.raymondantrobus.com
and you can see the Shake the Dust London Regional Final | @ The Albany | Saturday 16 June | 7:30pm