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Terreson Profile
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A link to poets reading poetry


I sure hope I link it right. Elizabeth Bishop swoons me especially.

Tere

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/audioitem.html?id=1626
May/30/2009, 10:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


You linked it right, Tere. Thanks.

Chris
May/31/2009, 11:45 am Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


Thanks for the confirmation, Chrisfriend. Pretty fun stuff.

Tere
May/31/2009, 1:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


Tere,

I've listened to a handful. So far, Heather McHugh is riveting and Kay Ryan almost as good. Both are terrific readers of their own poetry; I'm sure that helps.

What a terrific find. Thank you again.

Chris
May/31/2009, 3:09 pm Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


You bet, Chrisfriend. It really does make a difference, don't you think? Hearing a poet speak, or sing, her own poems. What the listening(s) tells me is that inflection has as much to do with a poem's meaning as does its syntax and metrical structure. Seeking out these audios is rather changing my approach to poetry in general.

Tere
Jun/1/2009, 6:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


Tere,

I haven't had a chance to follow-up on the link, but I will. In the meantime, can you say more about this:

"Seeking out these audios is rather changing my approach to poetry in general."


Jun/1/2009, 8:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


Oh, Katfriend, you do have a way for asking the exacting questions. Too bad for me is that your question is a fair one and to the point. It is a work night and I had a full and rather warm day in the bee yards. Nor did it help that the better part of the day was under an overcast, which cloud cover always makes the girlie bees crancky, resulting in a few too many stings. It was the sting in my lower back that produced a "God damn it, cut it out!" But let me try briefly to explain what I mean. The exercise is actually good for me, forcing me to think through the question of metrical (and rhythmic) scansion.

I have long since lost complete faith in the system of metrical scanning whereby different patterns of stressed and slack syllables are determined. The whole of the system goes back to the days of Classical Prosody (Greek and Roman), in which different syllable feet units get prescribed. Iamb: soft/stessed. Pyrrhus: soft/soft. Spondee: stressed/stressed. Trochee: stressed/soft. Amphibrach: soft/stressed/soft. Anapest: soft/soft/stressed. And there are six more such feet culminating in the two most complicated: Ionic (major): stress/stress/soft/soft. And Ionic (minor): soft/soft/stress/stress.

So when you hear a poet, usually a formalist, talking about a poem's spondee, its iamb, its trochee, its dactyl, they are just talking about a poem's patterning of feet, or syllabic sound combinations, all of which were invented by one poet or another. For example, I think I remember correctly it was the Greek poet, Archilochus, (of the 7th C B.C.?) who invented the iambic foot, the soft/stressed syllable. To his ear the sound combination served the purpose of making his usually sarcastic, satiric poetry more effective.

The problem I have with these rules of Classical Prosody is that they still get applied, even today by such self-named poetry experts as John Updike, is that they are purely arbitrary, the artificial product of invention. To be clear on the subject let me state that again. The rules of Classical Prosody involving quantitavely determined syllabic units (iamb, trochee, dactyl, etc.) are human inventions coming from a certain time that has been dead for well over 2,000 years. In my estimation the rules, based on the number counting of accented/soft syllables, have not applied to poetry ever. The whole notion that poetry must stick to this rather limited set of rules is flat out bizarre to me and amounts to a killer.

Another problem I have with prosodics has to do with meter or metrics. "The set acoustic pattern of a line of poetry is its meter." (Miller Williams) To me this is such nonsense. I hold that what metrically works for a Welsh poet may not work for a London poet and may not work for a Jamaican poet and may not work for an American Cracker poet and may not work for an African-American poet and may not work for a Hispanic-American poet working in English. All of whom are working in English, but to different rhythmically determinded beats their ear hears. In my view there are no universals determing of poetry in our language or any other.

This is why I figure hearing a poet reading her poetry tells us what she means in the way the page cannot. The personal inflexion tells us what she means.

Tere
Jun/2/2009, 9:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: A link to poets reading poetry


About last night's answer to Katfriend's question. Today was a better day in the beeyards. The sun was out and so the older, foraging bees, who tend to be the most defensive, were out and about collecting pollen and nectar, mostly from tallow trees this time of the year in Louisiana. And so while working my colonies I had the luxury to parallel think. I got to thinking about last night's post. And I got to worrying if whether or not I had explained the case, at least as I see it, adequately. Rereading the post tonight I think I did okay. In spite of the fact I am sure my thoughts would get me run out of at least a few towns I actually think I am right, that my critique of both the system of poetry's major feet (the iamb, pyrrhus, spondee, trochee, etc.) and my comments on meter viewed as a "set acoustic pattern of a line of poetry" are valid.

At the cost of repetition, let me slightly restate the case.

Poetry's major feet strike me as little more than inventions, I think to some extent arbitrary. I mean, why these 12 feet or units of syllable combinations? Why not twelve others? Better yet why not 24, 36, 58 such established units?

As for a line's metrical (acoustic) patterning, I am unconvinced that my 21st C. ear hears a 16th C's sonnet by Shakespeare the way he heard it. Language constantly morphs and is environmentally biased. The sounds words make also morph, because again environmentally, culturally, and, you bet, ethnically biased. I could give so many examples of what I mean. English language sounds and stresses and pauses were categorically different before the Norman invasion of 1066. American English language sounds and stresses and pauses were categorically different before the Africans, Irish, Germans, Polish, and Hispanics came to inflex on the scene. The list goes on.

I have no faith in the critic who tells me what my line of poetry should sound like or who breaks my lines down to its syllabic feet. Both systems are arbitrary, pure conventions determined by local taste. If sound is impacting on meaning, and I think it is, you never really get the poet until you hear the poet in her own voice. Poetry on the page is just a shadow, barely a trace of meaning.

But don't take my word for it. Read a poem by Dylan Thomas. Scan it, mark it in its rises and falls. Then listen to Thomas reading the poem. Scan that and mark that how it hits the ear.

Tere
Jun/3/2009, 7:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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