luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
[personal profile] luzula
I'm going to talk about a specific reading here, because it's really the strongest such experience I've had: Elizabeth Klett's reading of T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land". You can download it at Librivox, and the text is online at Gutenberg.

I'd read this poem several times before, and found it captivating even though I don't get all the scholarly references in it. I think it's mostly the landscape descriptions and the connections between those and how society is described in the poem that got to me. I am a sucker for landscape and nature descriptions in basically any form, so this is no surprise if you know me.

Elizabeth Klett is one of my favorite Librivox readers--for example, her readings of the Austen novels are to die for--so when I saw that she'd recorded this poem, I downloaded it immediately. And wow. When I first listened to it, it gave me goosebumps and a sense of almost physical pleasure.

I got a new appreciation for the dialogue in it especially--she infuses all the dialogue with character so it really contributes to the overall impression of the poem. I never got that when I just read it on the page, and I'm far more likely to listen to this poem now than to read it.

This is my last post for this week! Thanks for inviting me, I've enjoyed it a lot. : )
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
[personal profile] luzula
I've always liked setting poetry to music. I think it started when I first read Tolkien at age eight or nine and making up melodies for the songs there.

It's hard to talk about how I do it, though! I mean, I love music and singing, and that's obviously a prerequisite. I most often make melodies that sound like folk music of some kind, because that's the sort of music I listen to most. I usually just go around humming and trying out different melodies and rhythms until I find one that works for me. Usually I won't write it down as sheet music, and neither will I be particularly bothered about the beat being regular--when I've tried to accompany myself with a guitar or something, I've often had to change the way I sing to make the beat more regular. Which is not to say that there isn't a beat, just that I've sung it in a freer way when I do it a capella.

Here's one I made fairly recently: it's fannish poetry by [personal profile] kill_claudio, originally posted here (the fandom is due South and the pairing Fraser/Kowalski, but it can hopefully be appreciated without context):

Shattered Light, by Kill Claudio )



God, I love that poem--it's heartbreaking. Anyway, this one's interesting because it's a set of haikus, so the rhythm of the song is going to have to work with that. Also, I want the melody to somehow indicate the sentence breaks as well as the line breaks, which means that there are variations in the melody between the verses. My sister is the one playing the guitar and singing harmony, and I remember that we wrote down fairly precisely what she was going to do with the guitar (for example make a small break after "full stop" *g*).

Here's a second one: it's Kipling's "Song of the Little Hunter" from the Jungle Book.

Song of the Little Hunter )



I did this one fairly long ago--maybe ten years ago?--so I don't remember much of the process. But I still like it. There's so much drama in it, and I get to act out all the stalking and the skittishness. And I like the language, too (but I remember having to practice saying "the lightning shows each littlest leaf-rib clear" fast without stumbling--there are a lot of consonants in there *g*). I also like how it lets me play around with volume, almost down to a whisper when the text calls for it.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
[personal profile] luzula
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!
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
[personal profile] luzula
Hi! I'm [personal profile] luzula, and [personal profile] jjhunter found a post I'd made in my journal about reading poetry out loud and asked if I wanted to post about it here during this week. So here I am. : )

I am--kind of a random poetry reader? I mean, I don't actively hunt for new poetry the way I hunt for new fiction or new music. But sometimes I'll stumble over poetry that really moves me and then I'll track down more poetry by that author. Stuff I have found this way and which I love include C. D Wright, Ursula K. Le Guin's translation of the Tao Te Ching, and the Swedish-Finnish poet Eva-Stina Byggmästar (I am Swedish myself). I used to write poetry when I was younger, but it was just for my own private purposes, kind of like a diary. Nowadays my creative writing energy is channeled into writing fan fiction instead.

I also do a good deal of amateur audiobook recording, mostly podfic, but I also record at Librivox, which is an awesome volunteer site dedicated to recording public domain books and other writings (including poetry) and releasing them back into the public domain.

Here is my plan for this week:

- a post about reading poetry aloud and why it appeals to me. I'll also share one of my Librivox recordings.
- a post about setting poetry to music, which is something I've done almost since I was young enough to read. I'll share some recordings here, too.
- a post about another person's recording of a poem that changed how I experienced the poem.

I'll keep to public domain poems, so as not to break the guidelines on the comm profile.

Right, I'll end with a bite-sized poem that I've recorded. (Rather bleak, I know. It, um, inspired me to write a story from the POV of someone turning into a zombie, which I bet is not what Walter de la Mare was thinking about. *facepalm*):



November, by Walter de la Mare )

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