As I said in the last post, I do some recording at Librivox
. A cool feature of Librivox is the culture they have of reading poetry--there's no prestige attached to it, and anyone can submit readings. In fact, they encourage multiple readings of the same poem: there's a weekly poetry project where everyone reads the same poem, and also monthly collections where everyone can submit two poems each. Of course, everything has to be public domain, which is a bit limiting. You can check out their current poetry (and short prose) projects here
, and previous projects are in the catalog
Anyway, I dived right into the poetry readings and discovered that I loved it. It felt like a new thing, but I realized that it wasn't--when I was in my early teens or thereabouts, I learned, for example, Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" by heart and stood reciting it to myself in my room. *g*
I've always loved singing, and I think reading poetry aloud shares something with that. For one thing, the rhythm feels more important to me than when I'm reading prose, even when the poem doesn't keep to a set meter. Since poems are often fairly short compared to prose pieces, I'll practice the reading beforehand in a way I don't do with prose. I'll try different ways of reading, sometimes making notes in the margin, until I find something I like. This is like what I do when I practice songs, trying to find the phrasing that works for me (which can obviously be very different from how someone else might do it).
I also like reading poetry out loud for the pure pleasure of the sounds in my mouth. I get this with prose too sometimes, but with prose the plot or action or characterization is likely to be foremost in my mind when I read. Obviously there is meaning in the poetry too that you have to think about when you read, not just pleasurable sounds, but sometimes my brain gets side-tracked and goes "oooh, yummy allitteration!" and I have to concentrate to get back to what the poem is actually saying.
So, here's "The Lady of Shalott"--yeah, I went for the nostalgia. : ) And I still really enjoy reading this poem! It's got a clear rhythm, but it still doesn't feel like I fall into a monotonous sing-song rhythm; it has lovely sounds and images; and there's a clear narrative and even some dialogue, which gives me forward momentum and makes me feel like I'm actually telling a story. Which is not to say that I always want those things in a poem, but I enjoy them in this one. And of course, I care about the lady of Shalott. Emotional connection to the characters or the theme of a poem means a lot to the reading for me, too.
Since it's fairly long, I'll just link
to the text.
Please do link to your own readings in the comments, or tell me how reading poetry aloud works for you and how it makes you feel!