April 28, 2009

I Hate That

Why is it when poetry is read on the CBC it's always in a breathy, overly expressive, strident tone of voice?

It's like the reader is trying to impart to the listeners: Pay attention because this is POETRY and poetry is deep and IMPORTANT.

I heard a poetry reading on the radio the other day - a poem about Leonardo Da Vinci that was written on the theme of 'flight' for a poetry contest, not a bad poem if it hadn't been read in such a ridiculous tone of voice - and it made me think of a poem I wrote:

Morning sleeping, headache
Eyes closed, snap
A woman's voice, strident
Filled with conviction
A ferry ride, a duck's
Save me from
Early morning radio

I originally posted this poem in Feb 2008 in response to being woken up, early Sunday morning, by a poem being read in a self-important poetry voice on the radio. Yes, to answer the obvious question, the poem - the one that was read on the CBC on a cold Sunday morning in a strident poetry voice - was about a ferry ride and mentioned a duck's behind. Obviously, it was very important and soul expanding.

So please, if you ever get the chance to read poetry out loud to an audience, don't use poetry voice. It just distracts everyone from the poem itself and, this is the important point: it's really, really annoying.

Just sayin'




B said...

I can envision you being all breathy as you read this to us.

Actually, I totally get where you come from on this. I get lost on the breath and ignore the words when I attend readings that are like this. Have you ever hear Angelou read some of her work? I've yet to hear her rasp or whisper during one of hers. Not saying she doesn't do it, but she sells me on it. And another guy I listened to recently was great too. Wish I could remember his name. Stalworthy was his last. Bob maybe? He's got a couple that hooked me.

Yours, it hooked me too.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Can't imagine a time I'll be reading poetry out loud, without a slipper hitting me on the back of the head anyway. But if I do, I shall bear it in mind.

Caution Flag said...

You are so accurate that it's painful! Those same people host the evening romance shows on our local radio stations, too :/

Paige said...

We actually had to learn to read poetry in my speech class in high school. I've since found out that most people don't learn that and are used to hearing it in that *poetry* sing-songy voice. I'm glad I learned that (in hindsight I'm sure I hated it at the time).

Ronnica said...

I hate when poetry is read with emphasis on every word. Umm, what?

RamblingMother said...

Isn't the point of the poetry voice to distract from the really bad poems? just askin'

Stopping by from SITS.