The poet, the poem, the world
October 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
Well, who knew? The decision to have actors reading the winning poems at the Forward Prize appears to have resulted in a disaster. Here’s one account.
The arguments for such media-glam? Well, poets don’t read their poems well, apparently; and also, don’t forget that the poem ceases to belong to the poet as soon as it flies the nest.
While there might be cases where poets don’t read well, bringing in a hired hand isn’t the answer. If they’re dead – and unrecorded – then maybe we have no choice (though I’d have loved to have heard Keats, and Clare, and Marvell). But surely – however diffident a reader – it must be for the poet to set the poem on its way? It will take on its own life as others enjoy it in their own terms; but to recognise it from its origins, we need to hear, wherever possible, the voice that made it.
And where it isn’t possible, let’s hear other poets read the work: those who have worked with words as raw material.
And where that isn’t possible, let people read the poems for themselves, in their own voices, and live with them. I include, of course, actors – who can then, when they have lived with them, and changed, and gone back to them, made their own sense of them.