Friday, December 17, 2004


Mike Snider has written an insightful series of blogs over the last week or so on enjambment in accentual-syllabic poetry. Highly recommend it, for those who are interested in poetic form.

Mike Snider's blog directed me to a fabulous poetry resource, the Factory School Digital Archive.
Recordings of readings by the all sorts of well-known poets are freely available here -- from Ammons to Plath to Yeats to William Carlos Williams. Snider was pointing out how when WCW reads, he ignores his exquisite line breaks and pauses only when punctuation demands it. The oral presentation of the poem doesn't necessarily have to conform to the visual version. They are different media, page & voice. Listening to Ginsberg reading Supermarket in California, I was surprised by how weary & woebegone his voice & reading seemed. I expected a more exuberant interpretation, especially with all those exclamation marks in the poem(... I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations! What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! etc.) But it was effective nevertheless... there is a plaintive undersong there, which his reading brings to the fore, with "What thoughts I have of you, Walt Whitman", "In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images", the "solitary streets", and "Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry..." Print is of course black and white: in an aural/oral poem, it is a series of instructions for interpretation, like a musical score. (On the page Ginsburg can't indicate how strong those exclamation points are!...!...!) Voice is many shades of grey, or rather sound colour... nuances of pause, volume, raspiness, clarity, rapidity of delivery, feeling of the moment... varied taste of words & silences, transmuted into speech...

No comments: