Stop Using “Poet Voice”: Rich Smith

If you are into students reading poetry out loud (and you should be), take a moment to read this CityArts article “Stop Using ‘Poet Voice‘” by Rich Smith.

On a similar vein of speaking poems, my wife thinks that Garrison Keillor ruins poems daily with his readings on his Writer’s Almanac podcast.  It’s a great source of poems and historical information, but, as my wife points out, he reads every poem the same.

Wife: “That is, he ruins it”.

Beyond his inflection, the breathing he does through his nose is a bit distracting.  My main complaint about The Writer’s Almanac is that a) many of his references are not about writers, and b) he does not do a writer’s poem on their birthday.

For example, today (October 25, 2015) he leads with Pablo Picasso.  Next, he moves on to Minnie Pearl.  In her posting, there is link to her books.  One is a joke book, another her autobiography.  Minnie Pearl is a legend, and besides being a great performer she was a powerful and savvy businesswoman.  She is not, though, known as a transformative or important writer.  So many books and poems, not enough time to dally with tangential talent.

Similarly, he will talk at length about a writer or poet, but read a different person’s poem at the end with no clear tie to the day or anyone previously mentioned.  On this day, after a painter and performer, he got to author Anne Tyler.  He gave half of the program to Tyler, and went into detail on her life and works.  Good stuff.  Then, he ends with James Reiss’ “My Daughters in New York.”

Reiss’ birthday is in July.  This poem does not seem to have anything to do with anything mentioned.  Random.

October 25th is also the day Henry V defeated the French in the Battle of Angicort.  A bit of Shakespeare and that “St. Crispin Day” bravado?  How about the poets Daniel Mark Epstein, John Berryman, Âşık Veysel Şatıroğlu, Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, Vesna Parun.  Sahir Ludhianvi, Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, Raymond Queneau or Edmond Pidoux, Alfonsina Storni, or Ziya Gökalp,  At the very least it’s the day Geoffrey Chaucer died–line up the Canterbury Tales.

Nothing against James Reiss.  I suspect Keillor is just trying to give some exposure to a living writer, but….


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