Wednesday, May 09, 2007

rob's assignment on sound poetry

for this week's workshop class, rob asked us to go to the website PENNsound and listen to bpNichol and Steve McCaffery and write something in response. my response is below and the poem cycle i wrote is the entry after this one.

Sound Thoughts

Steve McCaffery - love his language, it goes all over the place. with his work i like to read and hear it. silly at times, such as “what as poetic”:
“the rain in spain falls mainly on mark twain” “an avant garde a kierkegaard”
just so full of rhythm and implausibility, fantastic. absurd “poetica, helvetica, ars poetica.” “when i grow up i want to be a version of a virgin of a brain surgeon” all kinds of unlike ideas put together. “a walnut covered walrus” what happens when you let your mind run free in association with sound? [on a side note, i enjoy also his idea of poetic research being different from other kinds of research in that it is a reaction or response or inspiration rather than necessarily a comment on it, pataphysics, beyond the metaphysical and a parody of science...all fun! love his seven pages missing volume one.]

in bpNichol’s sound poetry, single syllables are emphasized, his word associations are based on sound rather than concept, there’s often strong & sing song rhythms to his poems and he also plays with pitch. some of his poems are like tongue twisters.

also Bill Bissett’s Lullaby from Motherlove-love the language of an unknown or invented language; see how sounds alone can create an atmosphere; this is soft, repetitive like a lullaby.

the addition of sound effects is so much fun; shows you there really are no limits; folks like antonin artaud and william s. burroughs played with all of this years ago, yet it’s still treated as something new. they played with sounds alone, added effects, slowed down and lengthened discrete sounds, distorting them. to me it’s like going deep inside language to really consider it and analyse it in depth, slowing down each individual sound like an isolated moment. this to me is what poems are...the isolation of a unique moment and its articulation on paper or in the air. today folks like max middle and jw curry here in ottawa, a. rawlings in toronto and others all over the world are creating sound poetry. it’s as exciting to me as visual poetry and every other media being used.

i dig the idea of removing and or playing with expected patterns of meaning. seems to me that changing languages is one way of doing so. i fell in love with words for their sounds more than their meaning. i have always spoken my poems out loud and the poems of others. as a child i would repeat and still do, little phrases and words, such as “the theory of plate tectonics” my favourite phrase and “lugubrious.” I love what these sounds do to my tongue, how they fill my mouth, how they resonate in my brain: “the murmuring of innumerable bees”-Tennyson.

in one of the music classes i can still remember from grade school the teacher has us listen to peter and the wolf and tell her what we were hearing without knowing the story. i was fascinated by the way music and sound alone could convey mood and tone, could tell the story without words.

i have always played with language, inventing my own as a child. this exploration of sound has brought me back to that playfulness and the idea of invented languages.

in this poem cycle, “8 planets speaking in tongues,” i’ve chosen vocabulary from existing languages and also added my own invented words. i haven’t chosen the words for their meaning, but rather for their sound. the sounds are meant to have onomatopoeic associations with specific atmospheres...let me know if they do...

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