Monday, April 14, 2014

Poetry for two Voices

Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronunciation. Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song. ― Jorge Luis Borges

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to lead a poetry circle in celebration of national poetry month. We enthusiastically read and wrote a wide variety of poetic forms.  We dabbled in haikus and tankas, odes and elegies, pantoums and villanelles. We talked about a shared love of language and poetic voice.  As I was planning the last class, I suddenly had a wild need to hear poetry, to return to the origins of poetry, to listen to and enjoy the aural qualities of verses.  I began to watch and listen to a wide variety of spoken word poems, like the kind you would see at poetry slams on college campuses.  After viewing a few dozen youtube videos of slams, I remembered a spoken word poetic tradition I was introduced to a few years ago in the form of a children's book called Joyful Noises.

Joyful Noises is a book of spoken word poetry specifically written for two voices. The poems in this book were written with children in mind and in fact, when I googled Poetry for Two voices all I could find reference to was this book and other poems written by and for children.  It was all very sweet but I really wanted an adult poem.  I wanted to look at and listen to poems for a specific age group. I couldn't believe there were none.  (Note: This still seems to be a great untapped poetry market.  If you want to write poetry for two voices--for an adult audience--I'd say go for it.  There is not very much out there.)

I came up empty on google so I started through spoken word poetry on you tube.  Again, great poetry but nothing for my audience.  How could no one have ever made a poem for two voices that was aimed at me and my peers in the poetry world?  Seriously, where was all the poetry being hidden?

Finally I came across this little gem.  By the way, we enjoyed our last class and watched several spoken word poems and we also read aloud our own poems.  We watched and talked about this poem for two voices.  I hope you enjoy it too. And if you know of any other poetry for two voices--please comment below.  I would love to know about it.


1 comment:

  1. What a great idea, and a beautiful poem/video/performance. I'm definitely going to try this. (We had an early reading book that the girls LOVED, "You Read to Me, I'll Read to You," by Mary Ann Hoberman--the NEW Children's Poetry Laureate and a grad school classmate of mine.) I love the idea of this format for adult voices. MKP