Whale Sound

I have read others’ work for different publications (here and here, for example), in addition to reading my own work for different publications (e.g. here and here).

Reading other peoples’ work aloud is the most tender and respectful, and also the most careful, way to engage with it, I find.

So here’s my new idea.

It’s going to start slowly. I’ve decided I will only read and record poems that sing to me. To me. Not my stuff, though – yours.

There will be a link to text if the poems are available online, but I won’t be posting any text. Just voice.

I’ll be out looking for those poems. So don’t be surprised to hear from me soon, asking if you would let me record and post that brilliant piece of yours that ran in Magazine X last week.

the death of a child

a bitter, hard thing

cremating vs burying your dead child

morbid that I have thought of this extensively, but I have

and I have thought that I could not bear to think of my dead child alone out there in his grave on nights that are storming and winter, and cold, and dark

I blame Frost

although maybe I should not

“Publishing Your Incunable”

Two things about this fine under-used word:

1) Fact: Its current-usage frame of reference stops at the year 1500.
2) Probability: Its current-usage users are no more than fifteen gaunt and over-used academics.

This fine word, which you know is crying out to be commandeered into broader and more common current parlance, is anglicized Latin for “swaddling clothes” or “cradle” and can refer to “the earliest stages or first traces in the development of anything.”

OK. How about the the earliest stages or first traces in the development of a poet?

I propose that we re-coin, re-deploy “incunable” to mean “first book of poetry.”

Only one Incunable for everyone, to be referred to in endless bildungs-narratives, entered into endless Incunable Contests and cited as proximate cause in endless career-path ex-/im-plosions.

Bad News in Technology: Writing Invented

Socrates, in Plato’s Phaedrus, laments the advent of writing, saying “.. this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.”

I heard, then, that at Naucratis, in Egypt, was one of the ancient gods of that country, the one whose sacred bird is called the ibis, and the name of the god himself was Theuth. He it was who invented numbers and arithmetic and geometry and astronomy, also draughts and dice, and, most important of all, letters. Now the king of all Egypt at that time was the god Thamus, who lived in the great city of the upper region, which the Greeks call the Egyptian Thebes, and they call the god himself Ammon. To him came Theuth to show his inventions, saying that they ought to be imparted to the other Egyptians. But Thamus asked what use there was in each, and as Theuth enumerated their uses, expressed praise or blame, according as he approved or disapproved. The story goes that Thamus said many things to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts, which it would take too long to repeat; but when they came to the letters, “This invention, O king,” said Theuth, “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered.” But Thamus replied, “Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”

(Hat tip: Joe and his comment on yesterday’s post.)

a magazine for your ears?

I love this. The Drum: A Literary Magazine for Your Ears.

The amazing thing about it? No text!

One of the questions in the recently-completed Ten Questions on Poets & Technology series was: “Technology is enabling poets today to take poetry off the page in ways that were previously inconceivable. Either comment on [videopoem X] or provide a link to and comments on a different piece of work that uses technology to take the poem off the page.”

Some respondents – most? – answered in so many words, with varying degrees of emphasis: No. Poetry belongs on the page. Poetry is text.

I’m a slave to text myself. It’s almost impossible for me to grasp a poem (intellectually, emotionally, dare I say aurally) without seeing it on a page. I can’t conceive of composing without writing, without the visual affirmation of text on a page.

One respondent, however – Rik Roots, who answered the Ten Questions on his own blog – pointed out that poetry pre-dates text by a long way, that writing itself is just another technological advancement poetry has wrapped itself around.

Rik’s response pulled me up short and made me ask – what am I missing? What does this enslavement to text mean for the way I experience poetry?

Lots of poetry journals have audio. But audio and text. Or, (in some cases), audio and video.

But what about just audio?

What would it be like to hear, instead of read, a whole issue of a poetry journal?

(This ties in somehow sorta to Amy King‘s technology idea.)