Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

  • Music:

Words in my mouth: poetry thoughts

Reinforcing the habit of reading poetry aloud. I'm not reading poems dramatically, that should wait until I know a poem, but even a flat sounding-out of the poem helps me get the intent and feel the language. Obvious idea, but a satisfying one.

Today when I finally went outside, in the afternoon to get a little more sun and a few thousand steps of walking, I brought a John Dryden collection I got while in college, and walked around many blocks and the Brooklyn School Park reading it aloud. Never really loud, and sometimes whispered, but mostly aloud. A march through words and, I hope, Dryden's ideas. Reading silently, I feel I'm more likely to skip or miss something important, especially in a poem where each word has even more weight. Reading silently, maybe I'm not so patient with those words, and they might just pass past my sight. It's a way to get around bad reading habits, when those bad habits could hurt the reading experience.

(Other stuff, I can read quickly just fine. Recently I easily did a hundred-plus pages a day reading John Scalzi's Zoe's Tale. I think my record is 200-plus pages a day in Stephen King's Bag of Bones, though admittedly, that was right after I'd lost my call center job in 2004 and I had lots of time to read. Still, King can flow into me quickly like that, even when I'm busy, which is good since he writes long books.

(I still remember the first time I broke 100 pages in a day. My high school reading included The Grapes of Wrath; I got behind on the book and had to finish it at that pace, but thank goodness it grabbed me so that I wanted to dive through it. Thank you, Mr. Steinbeck!)

I don't revisit poems enough. Maybe I'd better feel the moods of a piece, and know when it should be read quietly and when it should be read proclaimingly. I once heard a theory that music arose out of how human speech rose and fell (at least as it should; I've heard enough flat affect to know that's not always the case). I've heard another theory that it was the other way around: early humans figured out singing, then figured out speech based on that. Which, come to think of it, could've meant that we maybe possibly could have evolved into sounding like we're in a musical or an opera ALL THE TIME.

I'll leave that to you to imagine.
Tags: books, language, poetical

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