1. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    Spoken Word vs. Written Poetry

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by edamame, Jul 18, 2014.

    So recently, I wanted to try reading some of my poetry at an open mic night until I realized spoken poetry was expected. Needless to say, I enjoyed the night but chickened out on reading aloud.

    What do you guys think about spoken vs. written poetry? How do you find them to be different? Also, they say originally, poetry was meant to be read aloud, do you think that's always the case?

    By the way, here are two TED talks I enjoyed which features spoken poetry. Thought I'd share. ;)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    With spoken poetry, you can add additional elements that cannot be adequately rendered in writing; pauses and tempo shifts, pitch changes, volume changes. But the foundation remains the same: solid imagery and layers of meaning.

    Bad poetry spoken is still bad poetry. But good poetry still requires additional work to become masterful spoken poetry.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
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  3. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Spoken Poetry is basically your verbal showcase to it, you can present it any way you want. Regular poetry can be interpreted in many forms, but Spoken poetry helps elevate that further. Not only do you get a more transparent idea of the meaning, you get to experience the vocal presence of a poet.
     
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  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Originally poetry was not spoken, but sang. Rhapsodes, who specialized in the performance of epic poetry like Homer, would often sing or chant their lines with the beating of a drum or lyre to add emphasis to certain lines, or keep a rhythm going while the rhapsode improvised. We still see this practice at work among shepherds in the Balkans. There was a similar system in Anglo-Saxon poetry, though (while we don't actually know) that seems to have been a little less improvisational. You simply cannot experience anything quite like hearing a performance of Beowulf surrounded by mead and legs of lamb, nothing else comes close.

    Poetry, even modern poetry, is supposed to be spoken aloud, even if the reader is alone. The power of poetry cannot be fully understood until it is heard. Something that may seem merely good can become extra-ordinary when read out because you catch the subtleties. Even T.S Eliot is supposed to be read out loud. Even he, with his Modernist intentional difficulty, makes far more sense when you hear something like Love Song or The Wasteland, over just hearing it silently in your head.

    Edit:

    Here is T.S. Eliot reading The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock:



    That reading I find captivating, and really helped me understand the poem.
     
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  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I used to believe this too, but then I considered poems that have unique visual designs. Sometimes there's unorthodox formatting going on, i.e., a poem presented in the shape of a heart. I suppose we should then think about whether or not visual designs are important when reading poetry. Does the reader miss anything if he doesn't get to see the actual poem on the page? Has poetry evolved to the point where the visual design is as important as the actual words?
     
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  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This is right, though reading poetry has moved on from the oral tradition of the Rhapsodes (much to my eternal sadness to be honest) and so a reader has to also see and hear a poem, I think, to get the full force of it. Even take Eliot's Love Song that I posted above, the change of lines in free verse have a certain significance, like the break aways to the tea party in the poem that comes in the repeating of the line 'And the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo'. That is just two lines by themselves, which suggest something - that Prufrock is being sarcastic perhaps?

    So yeah, you are right, poetry needs to be seen and heard. But some poems you cannot represent audibly either. Something like Leaf Falls by ee cummings wouldn't make any sense when heard audibly. And there is apparently a poem of an 'm' with a third arch, making a new letter - that would be impossible to show audibly. Something else, like Dada poetry, like 'The Loch Ness Monster's Song', the appearance of the poem on the page doesn't matter at all.

    However, for most poetry, like if you think of the work of Frost or Heaney or something, hearing it and the sound of the words in a sequence I would argue is slightly more important than the appearance of it on the page. Obviously, not counting the line breaks ah-la Prufrock.

    Oh, and anyone interested in 'The Loch Ness Monster's Song' poem? Here it is:

    Edwin Morgan
    From Glasgow to Saturn (Carcanet, 1973)
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  7. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, that's a good point. I'd forgotten about this. Of course the poets sang their works, because that made them easier to memorize and it was necessary before a writing system developed.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    WTF did I just read? That's harder to understand than Finnegan's Wake.
     
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  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Read it out loud. :) It's a phonetic rendering of the sounds the water would make if the Loch Ness Monster comes to the surface. And then the dripping away at the end suggests old Nessie has descended again into the watery depths, and the 'blm plm' at the end are the little lingering pockets of air floating to the surface off of Nessie's body. The image is clear to me, I can see the monster rising up and then going down again - all without using any real words.
     
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  10. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    Everyone has their own voice and we 'see poetry' differently. When I write poetry for some reason I always read it aloud as it seems more natural. I've only read my poetry to an audience a couple of times and it was nerve racking to say the least. I'd love to record my poems and create a vlog or upload to YouTube but I don't know how I do this. Any ideas, please?
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Download Windows Movie Maker for free online. It should be a basic, but at least functional program if you want to make YouTube videos.
     
  12. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    Thank you, Lemex :)
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    No problem. :)
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't really have much room in my life for visual poetry - text formatted into hearts or whatever. For me, poetry should be spoken - it's art for the ears, not the eyes. I suppose I should mention that I tend to have the same opinion about all writing, prose fiction included. If it doesn't sound good, then it isn't good.
     
  15. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doesn't OP mean 'SPOKEN WORD' - used as euphemism for slam poetry, rapping scene, trucker caps, geezers.

    I did the same thing - turning up with my stuff, but read it anyway...nobody minded. At another event a guy read his poems straight off his phone. He was so terrible - but gave us all the great memory of him - a poet with all the right clothes.
     
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  16. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whoops. Yes I mean exactly that. And thanks for sharing your experience. I think I'm going to give reading aloud another go.
     

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