In today’s Observer Kate Kellaway discusses our changing attitudes to poets performing their work, referencing attitudes to the first Poetry International festival in 1967.
Then, the Guardian’s Donald Davie was appalled at the idea of poets reading for an audience, describing it as ‘vulgar nonsense‘. 40 years on, Kellaway asserts that ‘poetry that is never read aloud leads a half-life’, and quotes Jorge Luis Borges: ‘Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.’
Those of us who have been lucky enough to see some of the 79 poets from 31 countries reading their work at Poetry International over the past nine days, can attest to her description of the frisson one gets from the very personal experience of hearing a poet read their work aloud; something Comfort Nwabia describes beautifully in her account of Anne Carson’s reading as part of Poetry Parnassus on Tuesday 2nd November.
Read the Observer piece and join in the discussion here.
You can also listen again to Michael Nyman discussing his setting of Paul Celan’s poetry to music on the Today programme yesterday, ahead of Southbank Centre’s powerful and moving event marking the 40th anniversary of the poet’s death and 90th of his birth. Nyman explains that he found it a ‘very fearful’ and ‘dangerous’ thing to do. (1:50.25 – 1:55.03).
Filed under: Poetry International 2010