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Close ListeningPoetry and the Performed Word$
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Charles Bernstein

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195109924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195109924.001.0001

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Sound Reading

Sound Reading

(p.217) 10 Sound Reading
Close Listening

Peter Quartermain

Oxford University Press

The chapter focuses on the idea whether it is possible to read a poem aloud badly and whether it might be possible to read a poem aloud well. This chapter also presents what constitutes “poetic” and “unpoetic” throughout the discussion. Poetry readings take place in a great variety of conditions, and the contingencies attendant upon the occasion affect the reading performance itself. Texts that are familiar to the audience might well be heard in a more critical frame than would texts that are completely new to the hearers. This might suggest that a poem, then, would best be read in the dialect of its maker. The difficulty in voicing the poem, though it has something to do with our understanding of the work, may also have to do with a kind of tentative polyvocality, a simultaneity of possible tones and interpretations, possible inside the head but impossible of public performance.

Keywords:   sound reading, poetic, unpoetic, poetry readings, voicing the poem, polyvocality

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