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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 1998
From the publisher:
Close Listening and the Performed Word brings together seventeen essays, especially written for this volume, on the poetry reading, the sounds of poetry, and the visual performance of poetry. While the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and postmodern poetry performance has been negligible. This collection opens many new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry, with special attention to innovative work. More important, the essays collected here offer wide-ranging elucidations of how twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a performance art. The contributors cover topics that range from the performance styles of individual poets and types of poetry to the relation of sound to meaning, from historical and social approaches to poetry readings and to new imaginations of prosody. Such approaches are intended to encourage new forms of "close listenings"--not only to the printed text of poems, but also to tapes, performances, and other expressions of the sounded word. With readings and "spoken word" events gaining an increasing audience for poetry, Close Listening provides an indispensable critical groundwork for understanding the importance of language in--and as--performance.
Contents: Charles Bernstein, Introduction
Sound's Measures
Susan Stewart, Letter on Sound
Nick Piombino, The Aural Ellipsis and the Nature of Listening in Contemporary Poetry
Bruce Andrews, Praxis: A Political Economy of Noise and Informalism
Marjorie Perloff, After Free-Verse: The New Non-Linear Poetries
Susan Howe, Either/Ether
Performing Words
Johanna Drucker, Visual Performance of the Poetic Text Steve McCaffery, Voice in Extremis
Dennis Tedlock, Toward a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability
Bob Perelman, Speech Effects: The Talk as Genre
Peter Quartermain, Sound Reading
Close Hearings / Historical Settings
Jed Rasula, Understanding the Sound of Not Understanding
Peter Middleton, The Contemporary Poetry Reading
Lorenzo Thomas, Neon Griot: The Functional Role of Poetry Readings in the Black Arts Movement
Maria Damon, Was that "Different," "Dissident" or "Dissonant"? Poetry (n) the Public Speak: Slams, Open Readings and Dissident Traditions
Susan Schultz, Local Vocals: Hawai'i's Pidgin Literature, Performance, and Postcoloniality
Ron Silliman, Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2007
What do poetry slams have in common with traditional poetry readings?
More than one may think.

Close Listening, edited by Charles Bernstein, offers 17 perspectives on how contemporary poetry has been practiced as a performance art. Nearly ten years after its initial publication, this book remains fresh and stimulating.

Much literary criticism has neglected the auditory and performance aspects of the poem, Bernstein writes. But a poem's sound and its meaning are aspects of each other, neither prior, neither independent.

This collection of essays argues against the assumption that a poem's text is primary, while a poet's performance of the poem is secondary, and fundamentally inconsequential to the "poem itself." Bernstein observes that, in a poetry performance, explicit value is placed almost exclusively on the acoustic production of a single unaccompanied speaking voice.

Contributors include Bruce Andrews, Marjorie Perloff, Ron Silliman, Susan Howe, and others; some performers in their own right.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
I can't figure out how Bernstein and other editors make certain essay selections to become the spoken word guru scholars/editors. Marjorie Perloff's essay is brilliant, nevertheless. Maybe the editor's taste is past it or no longer relavent to a younger crowd, for the most part. I recommend Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920s to the Present for secondary material on this phenomenon. She takes a fresh look that seems more relevant. For those who want to "listen" to indispensable spoken word by a master of the genre Hedwig Gorski, tune into Send in the Clown: Live Radio Broadcasts of Performance Poet Hedwig Gorski. A woman, yes, and that may be why old-schoolers are out of touch with what is really going on. This book by so-called performance poet Gorski Poetique: Speak-Songbook for CD Send in the Clown (Micro Books, Volume 1) does have a quote from the trans-generation Perloff on the back: "Delightful." So between Gorski and Perloff, there may be hope for the old-schoolers yet.
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