Sunday, 7 September 2008

Earwigging in Poetry Archives

Seamus Heaney may be the President of the Poetry Archive but the archive was the brainchild, in 1999, of the current Queen's Canary, Andrew Motion.
Today the archive contains recordings of many famous and not-so-famous poets and bards, from Abse to Yeats. Curiously no Benjamin Zephaniah in there as yet!
It's an interesting exercise to imagine the voices of the poets reading their own words and then to listen to them and compare the imagined voice with the real thing. You will not believe that Allen Ginsberg wrote such a great work as 'Howl' when you listen to him shyly mumbling his way through his California Supermarket poem - 'Which way does your beard point tonight Walt Whitman?'
Dylan Thomas may be heard with a small plum in his mouth failing to quite make it. Larkin is positive and clear, not in a fog as P-i-R had supposed he would be. T. S. Eliot's dulcet tone is pretentiousness itself. And so on, and so on. But please listen for yourself. Take the alphabetical sidebar link to the Poetry Archive.
In addition to listening you may offer your own suggestions. Which other poets' voices should be preserved in the Poetry Archive? And if by chance you have a recording of Thomas Hardy or A.E. Housman the Poetry Archive would be more than pleased to hear from you.

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