In a class this week, I had assigned Allen Ginsberg's “Kaddish.” When the class convened, students seemed a bit unimpressed with Ginsberg. I asked, “Did you read it out loud or quietly to yourself?” Every student had read it like they would read a novel. We spent the next half hour reading aloud. Their sense of the poem changed rather quickly.
When I am writing an email or an essay or letter, I almost always say the words out loud as I write (as I am right now). I write more quickly and am generally happier with the results. There is a payoff for me, I suppose, to bridge the abstract linkage of words and concepts with some sort motion and sound. And, when I read other people's poetry, I tend to want to read it out loud, trying different voices, patterns, attitudes, physical postures, etc. Some works seem best understood while pacing. Others want me on the grass, underneath a tree. Some poems want a room with an echo. O
thers want to be memorized and spit back at appropriate moments.
However, I do not always speak the words when reading digital poetry. Some works contain too many non-alphabetic elements to permit such recitation. Some provide a voice. And others seem to have enough interactive elements to engage my desire to do something as I read. But on the occasions when I have been lecturing on a specific work, I sometimes take the time to recite a passage. In any case, my experience of the work tends to be enhanced by some notion of “presence,” that somebody is doing something with me, for me, to me, even if I don't know what they look like or how they did it.
My first question is: Do any members of this community read works of electronic literature out loud, either as you read another person's work or as you write your own? My second question is: When you create or read something that cannot be vocalized, what other ways do you perform the work?
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