Reading Poems Out Loud with John–Emily Dickinson Edition

English: A cabinet card copy of a daguerreotyp...
English: A cabinet card copy of a daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson (unauthenticated) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friend and Fellow blogger John Nooney at Poetically Versed has started a feature that I hope will catch on.  If you’ve been following my rantings here on the Dad Poet for any length of time you already know how important I think it is to read poetry out loud. I mean, if it were not, why would poets have ever bothered with things like rhyme and meter, or onomatopoeia, consonance, assonance, alliteration, and all of those wonderful musical tools. Prose doesn’t make much use of tools like this, and it doesn’t need to. You can read it all in your head, and picture the story in your mind. But with poetry, you hear it in your head, don’t you? And if you don’t that might be the problem with why you don’t like it. You are missing out on an auditory tradition that to my mind helps distinguish poetry from other forms of writing.

Okay, putting away my soap box for now. Later this week I’ll post a bit about the horrors of poets who actually read like they don’t give a damn about the oral tradition, and why people usually hate the idea of an old fashioned poetry reading. Our monthly Poetry Under the Paintings event got diverted from the Gallery on Thursday to a beautiful old hall in a local university where a famous poet and six students proceeded to destroy everything I love and hold dear by being mostly inaudible, indecipherable and boring. More on that later.

Reading Out Loud with John

What Mr. Nooney is up to at Poetically versed is sharing a joint sort of reading. This is something similar I think to what Stephen Kellog and I have talked about in the past, and I’m hoping he’ll be interested enough to join in. Each Friday John will post a reading of poem at Poetically Versed and then within the next week others can join in by providing their reading of the same poem. I like the idea because the variation in voices, like multiple covers of a good song, can be part of the fun of poetry, and part of how you can hear various nuances that you might miss from just one reader.

I also like the idea of it because it’s good practice, and the more we read aloud, the more it might catch on. And wouldn’t that be glorious?

Okay here is his edition for this week, Emily Dickinson’s #712, or as most of her poems are known by the first line, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” Click here for the text and John’s reading, and see my reading below. I have given my camera on more or less permanent loan (or until we fix or replace his) to my son The Monkey Prodigy, so forgive the poor quality of this recording. I was experimenting with the SoundCloud Mobile Recording App on my Galaxy Tablet, and it makes it sound like a poor, but loud phone connection. I recommend you knock your volume down a notch or two before listening, especially if you are wearing ear phones.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. slpmartin says:

    Another fine reading…you always make it sound easy and natural in its flow…a fine skill.


    1. Ah, so very kind of you, G. Thanks! I enjoyed John’s reading too. Now I forgot to mention that to him.


  2. Now that was interesting to me because I have only heard that poem in English accents – it sounded quite different, especially lee-zhure, where we say lez-sher.

    It also made me aware of something I have never thought about before: Miss D must have had an American accent 🙂


    1. Most Americans say lee-zhure, but when we want to sound fancy we say leh-zhure. 😉 Emily was from Amherst and I always felt that there was a bit of British still left in certain Massachusetts accents. So she might have had leh-zhure time. But I bet, unlike my dad, her father never wore a lee-zhure suit.


  3. Even more interesting – your friend said leisure like we do, but with an American accent!

    Not sure if my reaction was what you were looking for, but I found the exercise fascinating anyway 🙂


    1. I was going to point that out, as I noticed it too. John’s from Colorado.I’ll have to ask him if he always uses it that way. And I’m glad you enjoyed it! That’s a good start. 🙂


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