Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poetry Speaks, Again

Not so new at the library is Poetry Speaks, Expanded… a three-CD set accompanied by a beefy book-full of the poems themselves, to be sure, but wait…there’s more…biographical sketches, smart commentary and straightforward photographs of the poets: some tweedy and pensive, others smiling directly, knowingly; some tortured-looking, some not. I read their savvy and beautiful words while the poets themselves bellow or purr through my headphones; the words boom and sail, seep out and entwine. I am enraptured hearing and reading, steeping in the beauty and power of syncopated, careful language.

Tennyson’s there, remarkably clear in a recording made on a wax cylinder in the 1880’s, and James Joyce trilling along, seriously.
“We Real Cool” lilts Gwendolyn Brooks.
There’s a jazzy haiku from Jack Kerouac

Snap yr finger
Stop the world!
-Rain gets harder.

And Langston Hughes, quietly, thoughtfully, recounting the birth stories of his poems.

We hear grumpy Philip Larkin, the librarian poet, always lamenting:
“Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms
Inside your head, and people in them, acting.”

Love and war play central roles: The cynical Edna St. Vincent Millay crisply dispenses with romanticism, and Dorothy Parker plays it straight, with humor. And ee cummings, well, “he sang his didn’t he danced his did.”
This collection is broad and deep, all-enveloping and ever-lasting.

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