Monday, December 14, 2009

Sounds of Poetry (Encore)

As an extension of the previous entry, I want to deal with the delivery of poetry and the way it is presented to a live audience.
I've had the chance to hear poetry read in foreign languages, where the combinations of sounds that form words which deliver specific meanings are not familiar to me. Still, such reading/presentation often had a certain level of meaning due to the manner it was presented.
If foreign language poetry uses rhythm, rhyme, and all the common non-word-based tools that English language poetry does, it can convey the same emotional meaning. This is often, depending on the presenter's level of skill and/or involvement, enhanced by body language and movement that involves the eye.
Even if the surface meaning can not be discerned, other levels of meaning still exist. A good poem does not depend simply on what words convey. By emphasizing the visual aspects of presenting poetry, a supporting level of meaning can carry its desired impact.
I remember attending a reading by the Russian poet Yevtushenko. Although I did not understand the words he used, the mood of the poems were established; the translator's English rendition came as no surprise but only accentuated what had already been conveyed by hearing the original.

So vocal presentation, volume, the rise and fall of intonation, all become essential when hearing or speaking poetry in a language unfamiliar to the audience or a part of that audience. For myself, I enjoy poetry presented in such a way in a language with which I am not familiar. Because it uses the structures of language, it becomes, for me, even more enjoyable than sound poetry that depends on sound without the strictures of language.

Then again, why deny any audience the way to explore other depths of meaning in English language poetry? On stage, at the mike, use the voice and body. They captivate the hearer and make your work more memorable!

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