Listening to every heart
Also, found some guidelines...
FOR PRODUCING PERFORMANCE POETRY
1. Performance Poetry is usually between three and seven minutes long. The audience is not there just to see you. They are usually there to socialize or to see another performance poet that is attending. Therefore, if it is long they will get bored (of course unless you really rise above and create something that can keep them interested even if bombs are dropping outside). If it is shorter than three minutes you may not even get their attention. There are always exceptions to these guidelines. For example, if you get up and kill a chicken the first minute then you will have their attention for the next two. But from my observation of performance poetry these past ten years I have seen these as exceptions and not the rule.
2. Performance Poetry has to have poetry or the use of the word as a major part of the piece. Of course there is a lot of latitude here. For example: if you used Hugo Ball's sound poem. I personally think (this both requirement and limitation of) the spoken word as poetry as part of performance allows for creativity as has never been seen in the history of our social system. NOTE: This is not Performance Art. Performance Art comes from a visual background and does not require words.
3. Performance Poetry has to have objects. The object could be as simple as the poet smoking a cigarette. However, since each piece is competing with all the others performed that night (this is not a technical competition as in a slam - it is a competing for attention) I would assume the poet would make great use of the object/prop to create an interesting and exciting piece. I have always considered it the job of the Performer to get and keep the Audience's attention. I do not consider it rude of the audience to not pay attention. If you have a disinterested audience then you just have to create more exciting performance pieces.
4. Performance Poetry venue. A Performance Poetry Venue usually consist of a coffee house setting with perhaps 15 to 20 audience members and poets. If ten poets perform then this is a half hour to an hour of performance. For an audience member to get into his car or on the bus to go see performance poetry (it is actually more interesting than spoken word only poetry) an hour isn't enough. Therefore poets would go around twice or do two poems each. Every Performance Poet should have two pieces to perform and have the props ready at each performance. Again venue guideline is made by ten years of observation and is not a hard and fast rule.
5. Be aware that these guidelines are made by observation and not by God carving them in a stone for Moses. You are allowed to be creative. In fact it is a requirement due to audience members that have never seen you as a performance poet. It is much like you have been projected to earth for the first time and no one knows who you are or what you are going to do. Creativity in performance poetry will get their attention, keep their attention, and hopefully make them a better person. I would like to point out here that Performance Poetry was created (at least here in the mid west) because spoken word poetry just isn't enough. Even with the best of poets it is difficult to keep the audience interested, or get them to come out, away from their TV. I guess if we ask how many people make a living as a stand up poet it registers how weak, when performed alone, poetry is.
6. To get started doing Performance Poetry you go to a poetry reading and just do it. The reading could be a bunch of Little Old Ladies from the Poetry Club or a coffee house or your local library or book store. In both major and minor towns there are poetry readings. A major benefit of Performance Poetry over Performance Art is that there are many places to perform. Another benefit is that Performance Poetry requires far less preparation than Performance Art.
This probably answers your question best.