Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word / Edition 1

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Close Listening brings together seventeen strikingly original essays, especially written for this volume, on the poetry reading, the sound of poetry, and the visual performance of poetry. While the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and postmodern poetry performance has been surprisingly slight. This volume, featuring work by critics and poets such as Marjorie Perloff, Susan Stewart, Johanna Drucker, Dennis Tedlock, and Susan Howe, is the first comprehensive introduction to the ways in which twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a performance art. From the performance styles of individual poets and types of poetry to the relation of sound to meaning, from historical and social approaches to poetry readings to new imaginations of prosody, the entries gathered here investigate a compelling range of topics for anyone interested in poetry. Taken together, these essays encourage new forms of "close listenings"—not only to the printed text of poems but also to tapes, performances, and other expressions of the sounded and visualized word. The time is right for such a volume: with readings, spoken word events, and the Web gaining an increasing audience for poetry, Close Listening opens a number of new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Close Listening pays homage to...the twentieth century poetries often ignored or overinterpreted, to theories not listened to, to strategies not employed, and makes public a social history, a canvas, a recording."—Washington Review

" might very well be the most important book on poetry published in some years...Bernstein's collection provides analysis that should help us to think more about kinds of readings and the formal and social factors to be considered in writing about or discussing them."—Modernism/Modernity

James Shivers
...[T]he appeal and importance of thes volume is steadfast, engaging. The collection cargues for a fuller understandingof 'reading' and 'writing' and calls for a reassessment of 20th-century poetics.
Washington Review
James Shivers
...[T]he appeal and importance of thes volume is steadfast, engaging. The collection cargues for a fuller understandingof 'reading' and 'writing' and calls for a reassessment of 20th-century poetics. -- Washington Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195109924
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bernstein is David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York, Buffalo. His books of essays and poems include Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984, A Poetics, Republics of Reality: Poems 1975-1995, Dark City, and The Sophist. He also edited The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy and coedited L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Letter on Sound 29
2 The Aural Ellipsis and the Nature of Listening in Contemporary Poetry 53
3 Praxis: A Political Economy of Noise and Information 73
4 After Free Verse: The New Nonlinear Poetries 86
5 Ether Either 111
6 Visual Performance of the Poetic Text 131
7 Voice in Extremis 162
8 Toward a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability 178
9 Speech Effects: The Talk as a Genre 200
10 Sound Reading 217
11 Understanding the Sound of Not Understanding 233
12 The Contemporary Poetry Reading 262
13 Neon Griot: The Functional Role of Poetry Readings in the Black Arts Movement 300
14 Was That "Different," "Dissident" or "Dissonant"? Poetry n the Public Spear: Slams, Open Readings, and Dissident Traditions 324
15 Local Vocals: Hawai'i's Pidgin Literature, Performance, and Postcoloniality 343
Afterword: Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading 360
Audio Resources 379
Bibliography 385
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