Performing and Presenting Your Work

By Caroline Reid

Adelaide in March is hectic and joyful. As part of the Adelaide Festival I spent six hours watching Roman Tragedies, which was sore on the back but brilliant for the spirit.

I also got to hang out with some excellent Australian and International writers/poets when I chaired a forum as part of Adelaide Writers Week. We covered Presentation and Performance – how to captivate a room with your reading. The line up was impressive: Ali Cobby Eckermann, Omar Musa, Jeet Thayill and Yang Lian. I saw Omar perform last year so I was  familiar with his work but the other three, not so much. In my research I began to see what an incredible body of work they have and also the vastly different lives they have led. I was looking forward to meeting them. The problem with biographies is that they are such cold things, they act to hide rather than reveal the  flesh and blood people they are telling about; the living, breathing, graceful, warm, thoughtful people – Omar, Ali, Jeet and Lian are all of these things, all reading their work beautifully, moving the audience to tears. Such grace in their readings. Laughter too, and generosity of spirit from the panel and audience.

So here are some thoughts from these fine, fine writers. They may help you next time you’re sh*t scared of getting up to read your work:
‘Don’t be afraid of the emotion’, said Ali.
‘Work harder, practice and watch how others do it,’ said Omar.
Jeet said ‘One glass of wine will relax you, three glasses and you’ve lost your timing.’
And Yang Lian:’We don’t read from the page, we read from the poem.’

How lucky for me & the audience that we got to spend a delightful hour with these four writers. *Feeling inspired*

Caroline Reid’s plays have been performed and published, as have her stories and poems. She curates the popular short story readings Spineless Wonders Presents… Storytelling for Grownups at Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf Hotel. Caroline is currently working on her first collection of short fiction, and blogs sporadically at

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