I've been reading Dana Goia's book of essays, Disappearing Ink, on the commute the last couple of days. I've only made it through a couple of them, but it's had me thinking about a couple of things regarding poetry as performance and as something on the page. The basic premise of the first essay is based around the idea that contemporary verse today, not taking into argument the quality of such, impacted by non-print media, is largely dominated by rap/hip-hop/spoken word--all manifestations of "poetry" in the broadest least judgemental sense. That moreso today, than throughout most of the last century, the reception and audience, even for what he terms "literary" poetry (as opposed to "performance" poetry) gains its audience and readership more through author readings and performances, audience of which then go onto buy the books. He breaks it down into four types of poetry today: performance poetry, which depends on the personality and performative abilities of the deliverer, which can resemble stand-up or monologue, or perfomance art. (I imagine the emphasis is likely on the performer rather the poem--maybe like what is usually considered slam.) Then, spoken word, poetry written specifically for oral delivery (could probably include everything from beat poetry to sound poetry to poetry that incorporates music). Directly opposite, purely typographical poems which depend heavily on the page(I imagine ee cummings and his ilk). Then, finally, the strange hybrid of these two, that which works equally on the page and in performance.
Probably most poetry falls into the last one, at least of what I read and write. I'm a little confused by the difference drawn between performance poetry and spoken word. It would probably depend on who was delivering it, and also whether it was translateable via recording. Performance probably wouldn't work so well on a cd, but could captured on video I suppose, while spoken word, depends on the word as...well...spoken..and is usually distributed via recording. Splitting hairs, I think. But nevertheless, spoken word conjures for me, anything written primarily to be read aloud. So where does that leave me? Almost everything I write is written with an eye toward reading it aloud, whether I ever do or not. And yet at the same time I write so that it can be read as well as heard, as something that works on the page. I feel a little freakish among both crowds sometimes.
Yesterday, in the mail, recieved both of Ivy Alvarez's chapbooks what's wrong and catalogue: life as tableware, such lovely designed slender volumes. I highly advise you to get them if you haven't already. I particularly loved the specific narrative line that's all criss-crossy and circular in the whats wrong (something I'm hoping to do something like that half way as well with my project for the summer.)
I've been far too lazy the last week or so, still recovering from the semester, languishing in the heat, legarthic from getting up entirely too early and sleeping too fitfully. No new poems for the last couple of weeks, though I have been reading an awful lot. This weekend is Printers Row (yeah!) I plan to go on Saturday to do any serious perusing since Sunday I'll have the whole family in tow before the reading. It's only the parent's second poetry reading ever, besides the one where it was just me, and they might be getting more than they bargained for with two straight hours and over a dozen poets. And still, perpetually, the question of what to read...what hasn't everyone heard a million times? My first impulse is always to read new stuff, because that's very much where my focus is at the moment, though I do want to somehow promote the whichever chapbook I happen to have with me.