Close listening: Poetry and the Performed Word by Johanna Drucker, Charles Bernstein, Marjorie Perloff, Susan

By Johanna Drucker, Charles Bernstein, Marjorie Perloff, Susan Stewart, Susan Howe

Shut Listening brings jointly seventeen strikingly unique essays, specifically written for this quantity, at the poetry examining, the sound of poetry, and the visible functionality of poetry. whereas the functionality of poetry is as outdated as poetry itself, serious realization to fashionable and postmodern poetry functionality has been strangely moderate. This quantity, that includes paintings via critics and poets akin to Marjorie Perloff, Susan Stewart, Johanna Drucker, Dennis Tedlock, and Susan Howe, is the 1st complete creation to the ways that twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a functionality paintings. From the functionality types of person poets and kinds of poetry to the relation of sound to which means, from old and social methods to poetry readings to new imaginations of prosody, the entries accrued the following examine a compelling variety of subject matters for somebody attracted to poetry. Taken jointly, those essays motivate new kinds of "close listenings"--not purely to the broadcast textual content of poems but additionally to tapes, performances, and different expressions of the sounded and visualized observe. The time is true for one of these quantity: with readings, spoken notice occasions, and the internet gaining an expanding viewers for poetry, shut Listening opens a couple of new avenues for the severe dialogue of the sound and function of poetry.

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In 1993, Dennis Tedlock and I taught a graduate seminar called "Language and Performance," in which we addressed many of the issues under consideration here. I am also grateful to many of the participants of that and other Poetics Program seminars at SUNY-Buffalo. Full citations for works mentioned in this introduction can be found in the appended bibliography, which also provides a selected list of recommended readings; thanks especially to Peter Middleton, Steve McCaffery, Peter Quartermain, Marjorie Perloff, and Lorenzo Thomas for numerous suggestions.

English is of this kind, the accent of stress strong, that of pitch weak . . Emotional intonation, especially when not closely bound to particular words will sometimes light up notes on unemphatic syllables and not follow the verbal stresses and pitches. (House, 269-70) Consider the tension between the standard reading of the stress at closure of "Spelt from Sibyl's Leaves," Hopkins's meditation on doomsday— "thoughts against thoughts in groans grind" — against the mounted stress Hopkins marks for the line—"thoughts against thoughts in groans grind," It is as if, at the end of this sonnet, Hopkins were stripping the gears of sound.

This absence of documentation, together with the tendency among critics and scholars to value the written over the performed text, has resulted in a remarkable lack of attention given to the poetry reading as a medium in its own right, a medium that has had a profound impact on twentieth-century poetry, and in particular the poetry of the second half of the century. The reading is the site in which the audience of poetry constitutes and reconstitutes itself. It makes itself visible to itself. And while the most attention had been paid to those moments when the poetry reading has been a means for poetry to cross over to a wider audience—as in the antiwar and other politically oriented readings of the 1960s or in some of the performance poetry of the present moment—the fundamental, social significance Introduction 23 of the reading, it seems to me, has to do with infrastructure not spectacle.

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