Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word

Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word

Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word

Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word

Synopsis

Close Listening brings together 17 strikingly original essays, commissioned especially for this volume, on the reading of poetry, the sound of poetry, and the visual performance of poetry. While the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and postmodern poetry performance has been negligible. This collection opens new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry, and offers an indispensable critical base for understanding language in and as performance.

Excerpt

I sing and I play the flute for myself.
For no man except me understands my language.
As little as they understand the nightingale
do the people understand what my song says.

PEIRE CARDENAL

No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Nothing.

JACK SPICER

Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word brings together seventeen essays, written especially for this volume, on poetry readings, the sound of poetry, and the visual performance of poetry. While the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and contemporary poetry performance has been negligible, despite the crucial importance of performance to the practice of the poetry of this century. This collection opens many new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry, paying special attention to innovative work. More important, the essays collected here offer original and wide-ranging elucidations of how twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a performance art.

While this book is grounded in contemporary poetry, its project extends well beyond the contemporary in its considerations of the history of the modern poetry reading, oral poetries, and the lyric in our own culture and other cultures, and in its attempt to rethink prosody in the light of the performance and sounding of poetry. This is a wide-ranging subject and . . .

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