Yesterday selections from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress became available to stream online for the first time — the launch of a project digitizing some of their 2,000 recordings from the past 75 years of literature. “I think that reading
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24 May 2016
Perhaps my favorite quote from this article says it all,
“I think that reading poetry and prose on the page is important, but there’s nothing that can replace listening to literature read aloud, especially when it is read by the creator of the work,”
~ Catalina Gomez, project manager
I've always sat on the fence about what constitutes an "original source" when speaking of plays, lyrics, and even poetry.
With plays and songs we often are at the mercy of having to experience the text rather than the performance. In these instances, I think it is easy to justify considering text as a secondary source. Text is not the intended experience of the original piece. It's almost like suggesting that the musical score rather than the music itself is the original source even though the performance rather than the notes that constitute the instruction for delivering the performance is the intended means of communicating the work to its intended audience.
I recently had the opportunity to experience a live performance by Billy Collins and Amy Mann. It was more than the sum of Billy Collins' words and Amy Mann's lyrics. It was choreography. It was interplay. It was an audio visual close encounter with the poet and artist.
It just doesn't seem like a huge step to include the experience of poetry in the same way. Poetry is melodic. To hear poetry read by the poet; to hear the poet's interpretation of the melody exceeds even the best we can do in reading something we did not write and did not feel as it was created is a "lesser experience." It is, at best, a simulation of the original experience..
To hear the breath of the poet is to experience the heartbeat of the poem.
And thanks to the Library of Congress, we can now get closer to the original poetry than ever before.
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