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Mosaic Musings...interactive poetry reviews _ Discussions -> Alexandria's Library _ "Hearing a poem . . . means you miss so much"

Posted by: rus bowden Jul 29 07, 08:22



Posted by: rus bowden Jul 29 07, 21:10

I found and posted the link to that Larkin quote, finished up some other stuff, and walked downtown to The highlight for me was Colombian harp player with his beautiful wife, poet and expert Latin/jazz singer Their final number was truly remarkable:

Click on, and you will hear Andrea Tierra call the work "a mix of Latin American rhythms with jazz and some poetry." Playing the clarinet is the brilliant, who's latest project is "The Words Project," "which consists of poems set to musical composition. Rather than have the poetry spoken over a musical background, the goal is to create actual songs from the poems, and to use these songs as forms for improvisation." (Unfortunately, Sam Sadigursky was not with the ensemble today, but of course, an excellent jazz violinist from Venezuala was instead, and I did not catch his name.) They received a standing ovation in Lowell. Had to.

Through their artistry, there is a pinnacle of performing poetry that is being reached. How would you like your poetry heard through artistry such as this?

Now, we have Philip Larkin, who says, "Hearing a poem, as opposed to reading it on the page, means you miss so much." And I agree. So much written-word artistry is lost, the beauty of reading a poem off the page at one's own pace, in one's own setting, for one own's purposes--the silent artistry filled only by what the reader brings, looking back and forth, down, back up, then further down, catching and matching imagery and rhythms in the words, appreciating the craft, hanging onto sentences that must be hung onto. So much is lost.

And then there's the case of concrete poetry. just died. She loved words, and crafted her poetry onto the page, a very concrete poetry. So much would be lost if we only heard readings of it. If fact, though, why would you? Of course, I bet the likes of a Sam Sadigursky could do something wonderful with a Solt poem.

So much is lost when we take a stand and say poetry should only be written, or rather should only be spoken, or even that all poems should be appreciated both written and spoken.

This discussion is all over the web right now, with some great purview and response:

Jim Knowles at

a rough draft at

GA Sunshine and Lazarus at

maryanncorbett and Judy at

ewickliffe, Autonomyisdestiny, and Dragon at

Hopefully, anyone who wishes to, may log into these discussion threads, or register to. These responses are all from IBPCommunity forums, a community we may alll be part of. If not, e-mail me and I will tell you what was said:


Posted by: rus bowden Jul 30 07, 17:13

If you haven't already looked at the responses coming in on these threads around the poetry web, it's worth a click in. Here are links to more input and insight into this interboard discussion:

Lazarus at

maryanncorbett & JudeGoodwin at

Charza (Ka) at

Fred at

Jim Knowles and Christina Moon at


Posted by: rus bowden Aug 2 07, 20:34

This discussion on Larkin's "hearing a poem" comment is generating some very interesting comments from around the internet poetry world.

Check out:

talliesin at

Didi Menendez and Jim Knowles at


Posted by: Cleo_Serapis Aug 3 07, 06:15

Hi Rus,

I wish I could have accessed all the links above, but alas, I am not a member of most of the IBPC sister boards. I agree that 'reading the words' is far more preferable for me than to 'hear the words'. So much IS missed in the latter scenario on a personal level. The shape of a poem, the pace the author sets (use of line breask and punctuation), the poetic devices employed are spotted more easily during a read like alliteration, assonance and inner rhymes, not to mention the poetic form itself. I've learned so much by workshopping forms in written format. I know I would not have learned as much had I only 'heard' them.

I also liken it to the difference between reading a book and listening to that book on cd. When you read a poem or story, you can take your time (pace yourself), formulate your own 'voices' for each character if applicable, enjoy the setting you are in (whether it's in your own home, a beach, the deck or patio, a vacation trip in the car etc.) learn new words (I'll often look up words I'm not familiar with as I read along to make sure I understand the context of its use), enjoy the SHAPE presented of the words, which can, in some cases, slow or quicken your own pace, and for me, reading a poem or story verses listening to it for some reason, sticks in my mind longer as I am forced to concentrate in a different manner between the two methods.

I am listening to Harry Potter's 6th book now, The Half-Blood Prince, on CD even though I have the book here at home as I wanted to take advantage of my commuting time (1 hour per day) as my free time at home is much more limited recently to be able to pull up a comfy chair and read. While I am enjoying the story being told to me, my concentration is reduced by the surroundings and I miss words, sentences and sometimes need to go back and rewind a chapter or track. If I were to read the book, I know I would get more from the experience.

I have never been to a poetry reading, but would be interested in hearing if the chat is similar to my own commentary?

Cheers Rus!
~Cleo butterfly1.gif

Posted by: Peterpan Aug 3 07, 07:11

QUOTE (rus bowden @ Aug 3 07, 03:34 ) *
This discussion on Larkin's "hearing a poem" comment is generating some very interesting comments from around the internet poetry world.

Check out:

talliesin at

Didi Menendez and Jim Knowles at


Hello Rus

Thank you for always keeping us in the 'know'!

{You realise of course it is always via the written word! :)} I found the Larkin article most interesting as I have had lots of discussions with my friends as to the best way to introduce people to poetry. I think the read and perhaps a visual reference is a good one too!

With appreciation for your postings.


Posted by: rus bowden Aug 9 07, 19:52

On the Larkin quote, "," this has been quite the inter-forum discussion. Since the last update . . .

Beth Vierra has a fine response at

So does Fred Longworth at

Check out what Christina Moon and Jim Knowles say at

And Peterpan comments at


Posted by: Xanadu Dec 20 07, 17:43

Fallen Woman

I don`t know if this worked.

Posted by: ohsteve Sep 13 08, 15:52

Rus, an interesting commentary on spoken verses read poetry, I have been able to enjoy both forms, but I think the most enjoyable is to listen while reading. As Lori says in just reading you tend to put your own imaginary voices and images to the poem, but in listening you get the nuances that come through with the poets voice, his speed, his rythm, the way he/she intended the poem to be read. I have not found too many sites that have both the written and the audio version of the poem, would be interesting to find more than the one I do know. I also find intriging the putting into sound the music ability to render words into notes/sounds. What a wonder that must be. I often listen to music, specifically jazz and try to write down the words that are evoked in my mind.

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