Reading, recording and playback, a group experience

Poetic devices are memory aids and poetry has been a way in which great events, true or imagined, have been passed down to us. The poet recited, the people listened, that is until the press came along and poetry became as much a visual as an audible art form. Digital technology has the power to restore and improve on the old ways, because the audience can read and listen both at the same time.

In poetry, the words work much harder than they do in prose and make greater demands on the audience.  The language is concentrated and requires matching concentration from the listener. At its best it introduces images that are designed to lead the mind in several directions at once and a momentary mental diversion may leave the listener stranded. If the poem is only  heard at a single reading, it is very desirable to be able to read and listen at the same time, and this is now a simple matter to organise.

When the reader reads and then returns to be part of the audience, it becomes very apparent that the recited poem is one thing, but the recorded poem quite another and exploration of the challenges and pleasures of joint reading will surely follow. Few poems have been written for many voices, a notable exception being the first part of The Waste Land, but many popular poems can be divided between narrator and protagonist, or read to good effect by passing each stanza to a new reader.  Once the possibilities become widely recognised, more and more poetry will surely be written for group voices.

The home icon for the web site is the remarkable T-shaped beech plantation on the Pentland Hills.

Poetry collections

Each collection is displayed  in full on a single scrollable page.

The active contents index is non-scrollable on the left

and >> denotes that the entry is available on the audio player.