Varieties of Aural Experience

I know the poet through frequent face-to-face conversations but have never heard her perform. I have read all the books a poet has written so far, but not yet heard her voice. I have listened repeatedly and for many years to a particular tape of a poet, but have never experienced his conversational voice. I have heard the poet read live maybe a dozen times in fifteen years and have spoken to her for hours on end: if she called my cell phone, she could say, "hi, it's me." I have heard about a young poet, but neither read nor heard his work yet: when I click on the mp3 file, it's all news to me. I know only technologically-mediated versions of a poet's voice, never having been in her physical presence. I heard the poet read live once when I was young and he didn't have long to live; in my middle age, I listen for the first time to a tape recording of the event. I know the poet intimately enough to pick up inflections that would be lost on others—but when she performs, it's like there's a stranger up there. I struggle to read in the poet's native language and comprehend it even more poorly by ear; at the reading, I think a lot about his voice. I liked the work until I heard it read. I heard her read before she'd settled on a performance style and again, some years later, after she had: my estimation of the work didn't budge. When we were friends, I offered sincere praise for the performance style that, after our break, seemed the epitome of all that was wrong with both the person and the work. I once attended a reading of his: that was plenty. The poet lived long before me, and long before modern recording technologies; I still have the impression of knowing her voice. The emphysema had become an audible fact of his performance style; then, in the nick of time, a successful lung transplant: just imagining the new sound pleases me.

Tuesday -- 05 June 2007 -- permalink

The Lipstick of Noise is a product of the Third Factory • Inspired by the music blogs • And by Paul Blackburn's reel-to-reel deck. Intending to make good use of PENNSound and other sources of digital audio files of poetry • Comments welcomeXML.