An essay by Holly Pester on prosody, “poet-voice,” and the politics of delivery.
“Following a political impulse that I cannot shake, I want to oppose poet-voice. Not to smirk, but to suggest that poet-voice, that is, to lay a given mutual voice on top of the text, is a kind of opting out. It’s a self-absolving move. What’s being opted out of is the rough stuff of delivery and the ethical shrapnel in intonation. Such materials of poetic intonation are not, I will argue, irrelevant to the political questions of one’s speech in society and its disputed freedoms.
I have a fully felt and fraught relationship with delivery. I care about delivery compositionally; I enjoy the effects of composition working on and into my voice. Sometimes it feels as if my voice is the victim of some impossible contract with the text. The effort and timbres of delivery are therefore potentially very significant to a political poet. This sounded aspect of my work often gets short-handed as performance, but it’s not that. Performance art and performance poetry are distinct art forms with histories and styles, learned and studied by talented performers. Delivery is as banal or as eccentric as the material, but not necessarily correspondingly. It is part of the craft of poetry that isn’t unrelated to the intrinsic vocal identity of the poet (accent, etc.) yet has as much to do with tensions within the communities, heritages, and civics of poetry as with the individual. ”
The Following selects from John Wilkinson’s essays of the last three decades, with a preference for what has come to be known as creative criticism, and adds a new essay on reflected boughs in poems by Shelley and a photograph by Sally Mann, and a poem in homage to Sean Bonney. The book’s title is a broken reflection of the essay title “Following the Poem.”
“Through following a poem (not just any poem), a reader can become involved in the evocation and enactment of a radical hybridity, pulling together ways of thinking about the world modernity has categorically but falsely separated; but such reading takes place in time, so continuously a reader unpicks and reintegrates elements of the poem in a felt motion which can restore a healed and full being in the world, involving in its fullness and as a condition of it, the detours, the lapses, and the breaks in his or her journey.”
rile* is a bookshop and project space for publication and performance. rile* is into poetry, theory, choreography, artist writing and various other text based experiments. rile* organizes performances, meetings, launches, readings... rile* is the base word for silence in Láadan, a feminist constructed language developed by Suzette Haden Elgin in 1982. The language was included in her science fiction Native Tongue series. Láadan contains a number of words that are used to make unambiguous statements that include how one feels about what one is saying. According to Elgin, this is designed to counter language's limitations to those who are forced to respond I know I said that, but I meant this.
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