audio training – down with the page

I have to admit I’m not good at hearing poems. I prefer to see them.

If I am presented with poem audio, I immediately look around for poem text.


I’ve subscribed to Poetry Foundation’s Poem Of The Day feed, which just sends you a little audio player to click a play button on and that’s all you get (unless you want to click all the way back to the Poetry Foundation website and hunt down that text, goshdarn it.)

It’s not easy, and each time I am well aware that there’s a monumental mental cheat going on, whereby my traitor head transcribes what my ears hear into something text-like that my inner eye can still ‘see.’

We’ll get there, though.

Published by

Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

8 thoughts on “audio training – down with the page”

  1. But are you truly happy that way? Don’t you feel the need to HEAR poetry, unfiltered by the pinching crab and confine of mere TEXT? Come on, Twitches!

    (You are feeling sleepy, sleeepy….)

  2. Poetry read aloud (or shock, performed) has only one run through to impress the listener. Go to a reading (or shock, a slam) and this is quite apparent. Are those moments often cheap, theatrical, and obvious? Yes, quite often. Are these pointed moments of connection between poet and audience? Occasionally. Do poets fear reading live because their flat words will lack depth live and fall back flat to the page? Possibly

    The poet remains free to present the work however the poet wishes. As it is possible to be too obvious, it is also possible to be too subtle. At some point poets may descend from the ivory tower, return from the distant pastoral field to speak aloud in the public square to a populace wanting for wisdom and beauty, waiting to hear from others what their own hearts merely murmur. Maybe not.

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