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lunababymoonchild

Reading Poetry Out Loud

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Reading my new poetry book - in front of the TV that my father was watching - I found myself whispering the words as I read. So, I was wondering, does poetry need to be said/read out loud or is it just me?

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I would like to hear someone read poetry out loud to me (as long it isn't any of the Beat generation type poetry) and they had a smooth, soothing voice, preferably male! :D

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I thought it was just me. I think poetry makes a LOT more sense when read out loud - and yes, I like hearing someone else reciting it too, Momac. Richard Burton was exceptional at that.

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I thought it was just me. I think poetry makes a LOT more sense when read out loud - and yes, I like hearing someone else reciting it too, Momac. Richard Burton was exceptional at that.

 

There's probably a recording somewhere of Richard Burton doing exactly that but it would probably be more Shakesperean than maybe something more current.  The other person I can think of at the moment is Mr. Carson, don't know his professional name,  in Downton Abbey, he has a deep, rich sounding voice.

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Thanks for the link Luna, I wouldn't be able to buy the CD from Amazon.UK but maybe Amazon.com would have it.  Discs from the UK won't play on equipment here, at least that's the way it is with DVD's.

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Thanks for the link Luna, I wouldn't be able to buy the CD from Amazon.UK but maybe Amazon.com would have it.  Discs from the UK won't play on equipment here, at least that's the way it is with DVD's.

 

I know I just thought that it might prove a reference point.  Anyway I found this on the Canadian Amazon : Richard Burton Reads 

 

Not much there I know.

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As a writer for radio I believe in the spoken word. Yes, poetry should be read aloud; it's audible art. A great poem will vibrate and resonate. It'll take your breath away.

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I totally agree Ting, poetry is audible art.  I always feel the need to read poetry aloud to get the full meaning and feeling of the piece.  However, if I'm listening to someone else, it has to be done property.  I had a cassette many years ago with various artists reciting poetry and one of them was Dale Winton (maybe only known to UK members) who always seems to have a monotone voice and his readings were atrocious.  Sadly it spoilt the whole cassette for me.  I have also heard Margaret Atwood reciting some of her work and to a certain extent her voice grates with me too for a similar reason.

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I know a lot of poetry by heart, so I often recite it out loud (when alone).  I was doing this with 'Tam O'Shanter', then realised that I wasn't sure how some words should be pronounced.  I found an excellent CD set of Burns's poems with it on, read by David Sibbald, which has been a great help.  He's a pleasure to listen to, too.

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I am surprised that I haven't joined in this thread before now - although it was started while we were between homes and  I was computerless. I should have found it before now, 'though.

 

I have always enjoyed poetry read aloud, and often recite bits of it to myself when prompted by an occasion or location - last week's visit to Batemans (Rudyard Kipling's old home, now a National Trust property) saw ma wandering around the gardens reciting bits of his poem "The Glory of the Garden", and the same poem often springs to my lis when working in my own garden, especially these lines when I am weeding:

Quote

Adam was a gardener and God, who made him, sees that half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees.

(Hoping that's an accurate quote!).

I host a poetry group for my local U3A and, although the reading isn't up to Richard Burton's standard, sharing poetry with a group has to be done aloud. This is the third such group I have belonged to and, although small and although half the members did not own a poetry book when we started, all seem to be enjoying the experience.

I have some recorded poetry, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, and a couple of collections, on audiotape and a couple of CDs -all read by actors, so very easy on the ear.

 

I have heard a few recordings of classic C19/C20 poets reading their own work, and thought they made them sound very dull and monotonous. This worries me - is that supposed to be the way we read the poems, or should we put our own expression in them? -  either when reading aloud, or silently in our heads?

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10 hours ago, megustaleer said:

I am surprised that I haven't joined in this thread before now 

 

I have heard a few recordings of classic C19/C20 poets reading their own work, and thought they made them sound very dull and monotonous. This worries me - is that supposed to be the way we read the poems, or should we put our own expression in them? -  either when reading aloud, or silently in our heads?

 

 

I'm surprised I haven't seen this thread either.  I love to hear poetry out loud and yes, I think that we should put our own expression into it. I decided that I would listen to poetry (on cassette so that's how long ago it was) while driving to work.  It got to my favourite poem and I was so upset that the actor got it wrong that I had to switch it off to concentrate on driving. End of poetry in the car! 

 

I also mutter bits and pieces as the circumstances remind me

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11 hours ago, megustaleer said:

I have heard a few recordings of classic C19/C20 poets reading their own work, and thought they made them sound very dull and monotonous. This worries me - is that supposed to be the way we read the poems, or should we put our own expression in them? -  either when reading aloud, or silently in our heads?

 

I shouldn't worry about it.  Perhaps they were just bad at reading aloud, or uncomfortable in a recording studio.  I once heard a recording of Roald Dahl reading 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.  He read it in a dull monotone - awful.  It is also true that composers are not always the best interpreters of their own works.

 

I love 'The Glory of the Garden'.  My favourite lines are:

 

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:--"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

 

However, for repeating out loud I prefer 'The Way through the Woods' or 'The Ballad of East and West'.

 

What do you think is the best way to read a poem where the rhyme occurs in the middle of a sentence?  W.H. Auden's 'On this Island' is an extreme example:

 

    Look, stranger, on this island now
    The leaping light for your delight discovers,
    Stand stable here
    And silent be,
    That through the channels of the ear
    May wander like a river
    The swaying sound of the sea.

    Here at a small field's ending pause
    Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
    Oppose the pluck
    And knock of the tide,
    And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
    -ing surf, and a gull lodges
    A moment on its sheer side.

 

In this case I suppose all the rhymes are barely heard, they're so far away from each other, and the best thing is to go straight on.  However, there are plenty of less extreme examples - I just can't find one at this precise moment.
 

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Reading poetry aloud does hold some traps for the unwary, such as internal rhyming,  it's definitely wise to have a practice first if reading to others!

As you say, the rhymes in that poem are quite subtle, and also seem a bit randomly placed, so I would think it best not to put any particular emphasis on them, and hope the rlistener is able to pick them up (or comment on them at the end as I did recently, after one such poem, to my novice poetry reading group.).

 

On this Island has another, quite common trap for the unwary, and that is deciding where to breathe.   "Look, stranger, on this island now" is often heard used as a stand alone quote, however the sentence actually continues to the end of line seven. Does the reader breathe at the end of each line, or continue  to the next punctuation mark?

I often find myslf at a comma, not quite understanding where and how the clauses and sub-clauses fit together and make sense. Or, worse, start on a sentence and run out of breath, and sense, before the final full stop!

Definitely, poems are better enjoyed when read aloud - but probably best if you have no audience!

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On ‎08‎/‎06‎/‎2018 at 15:50, megustaleer said:

Reading poetry aloud does hold some traps for the unwary, such as internal rhyming,  it's definitely wise to have a practice first if reading to others!

As you say, the rhymes in that poem are quite subtle, and also seem a bit randomly placed, so I would think it best not to put any particular emphasis on them, and hope the rlistener is able to pick them up (or comment on them at the end as I did recently, after one such poem, to my novice poetry reading group.).

 

On this Island has another, quite common trap for the unwary, and that is deciding where to breathe.   "Look, stranger, on this island now" is often heard used as a stand alone quote, however the sentence actually continues to the end of line seven. Does the reader breathe at the end of each line, or continue  to the next punctuation mark?

I often find myslf at a comma, not quite understanding where and how the clauses and sub-clauses fit together and make sense. Or, worse, start on a sentence and run out of breath, and sense, before the final full stop!

Definitely, poems are better enjoyed when read aloud - but probably best if you have no audience!

 

Well yes, I would have a few rehearsals if I was reading out loud to an audience but at home I have been known to mutter under my breath to myself as I go along anyway so the poetry comes out too.  I also find that reading/saying  it out loud helps with the meaning and phrasing of it too.  My mother used to try to get me out of bed in the morning to go to school by quoting poetry or Shakespeare.  Until my father, quite rightly, pointed out that that was no motivation at all and that I was just waiting for her to run out of things to quote.  She then decided to quote ' I wandered lonely as a cloud' in the worst Irish accent you've ever heard and that had the desired effect.  My grandmother used to recite whatever came into her head when she was doing the dishes - nobody was allowed into the kitchen when she was doing the dishes, but as a tiny child I was allowed to sit in the doorway as long as I didn't cross the threshold and listen.  Which I did, frequently.  I did as an adult too.  She didn't just quote by rote either, she emoted as they say in the acting world.  That's why Shakespeare and Burns all made perfect sense to me by the time I got to secondary school.

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Reading poetry aloud also helps you to appreciate changes of rhythm.  I love the contrast between stanzas II and II of 'In Memory of W.B. Yeats' by W.H. Auden:

 

II
You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.

III
Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry...

 

Stanza II reminds me strongly of T.S. Eliot; stanza III is like a slow march with a coffin.

 

Then there's 'Night Mail' (Auden again); reading aloud is essential to hear the train rhythms.

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1 hour ago, Heather said:

 

Then there's 'Night Mail' (Auden again); reading aloud is essential to hear the train rhythms.

Oh, absolutely!

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Has anyone ever tried reading e.e.cummings aloud?  I have a problem with 'maggie and milly and molly and may'

 

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

 

Do you think he meant the reader to pause after the 'and' at the end of lines 4 and 8?  These might be supposed to make half-rhymes with 'sang' and 'thing', but in fact 'sang' goes with 'thing' and 'bubbles' with 'troubles'.  Was he just playing a joke on the reader?  Much of his poetry is very visual,  some impossible to read aloud ('r-p-o-p-h-e-w-w-q-g-r', anyone?)  '[anyone lived in a pretty how town]' sounds wonderful read aloud, but there's no way to read the brackets. 

 

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I have read this aloud a few times, Heather,  and ended up pausing at the 'and' at the end of lines 4 and 8.  I also notice that line 3 and line 7 start with 'and' so wondered if that had anything to do with it.  The poem does seem to lend itself to a limerick like rhythm and I wondered if the ands were to interrupt that?  Anyway, that's my best guess.

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