Bluejay gets a poetry gig

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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby jeffl » Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:14 pm

Bluejay, I downloaded the podcast at home, but I haven't opened it yet; I wanna sit down with a bottle of wine and relax with it. BTW, I kinda keep a foot in two worlds: I like hangin' around with the "left-leaning" artsy crowd that prefers to live life at the river's pace, and agree with many of their sentiments ( definitely not ALL) , but I'm stuck in a faster paced profession, dealing with cars and money on a daily basis. The guys in my jam club all live on the river-- all 8 or 9 of 'em-- and only one has an office job besides me, and he's a manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, so he spends alotta time outdoors, year-round. One of 'em grows and sells native plant seeds for a living, and the rest live pretty close to the ground. My observation (grown locally) is that support of the arts tends to come from two different segments of our populace: the Rich, and the Rootsy. Alot of us hard-chargin' middle class people are so wrapped up in making a buck that we don't take time to enjoy the arts as much.
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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby bluejay » Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:40 pm

ricochet wrote:Yeah, take your poultry gig on the road, Bluejay!

Abingdon, Virginia, right up the road from me, is full of artists, craftspeople, poets, retired educators, hippy relics and Democrats. Bring it there and I'll get to see you. :D


That'd be a blast, Rico. I've got to get to your neck of the woods someday. Passed by a couple times over the years headed elsewhere, but I should stop in and take a look around.

Bubba, that's an interesting point about the arts crowd. I'l be in the mix this coming weekend when I head up to Marquette for an annual fundraising dinner for a community gallery. A lot of the folks I used to hang with and/or write about when I was doing arts columns for the regional monthly will be there. It's pretty much as you describe.
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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby jeffl » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:05 pm

Now that we're goin' again here, Jeff, I wanted to ask you how much work you put into injecting consonants into your poetry. It seems like your delivery is pretty percussive-- which I like-- but, is that the way it comes out of yer head, or do you go back and rewrite it, for the purpose of giving it punch? Your poetry's cadences seem to be like a trail of breadcrumbs: overall, it's the same thing, but it's enough to keep me goin' down the trail, which I'd say is "good". It's not disturbing at all. BTW,. Are you writin' any tunes lately.?
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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby bluejay » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:46 pm

Bubba, just a quick reply before I leave the office, then more later.

I try to be very aware of the sonic nature of language, so words and phrasings are very carefully chosen for not only meaning, but hard/soft sounds, beats/syllables, and accents. That's one of the joys of poetry that some never explore when they write.

Yes, you could say that I cherry-picked the poems in the reading. Even then, I left out a number that were intended from the start to be spoken-word pieces just for time constraints and that I liked them not quite as much as what I chose. My whole master's thesis was a performance collection, with much of the second half of the collection being written for multiple readers.

And, yes, you can certainly say that I developed under the guidance of some wonderful mentors, who I can say were dead right about those lapses into abstraction in my undergrad days. There were some poems from the past few years that I like but that I found not right for listening, rather than reading on a page. But by the time I'm done with them, who knows, I may find a way to make them more spoken-friendly.
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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby bluejay » Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:00 am

To get to a couple specifics, Bubba, you asked if percussive delivery was "the way it came out of my head" or if I worked on it. Yes to both. Sometimes it comes out that way, perhaps because the phrases had been bouncing around my head for a while before I wrote them down, perhaps because they sprang forth that way; other times it is a matter of careful revision to take advantage of certain features of initial phrasing, building on the sound or texture of a couple words and reinforcing the effect.

As to the "breadcrumb" analogy, I'm glad that the cadence is working for you. I would hope that it isn't truly all the same, but then I have only one vantage point when listening. I try to establish a somewhat conversational cadence rather than the horrid sing-song or end-of-line rising tone cadences I've heard all too often by reading poets. If I can, indeed, establish a cadence that pulls you along, particularly on the narrative pieces, that is good.

The difficulty with cadence when reading is balancing that forward movement with a clarity of enunciation and spacing of words so that word play and imagery is not lost in the process.

As for tunes, I keep trying to get myself going on some lyrics, but it hasn't happened. I'm trying to make myself spit out some words when I'm practicing some chord & fill structures I've cobbled together over the past couple years.
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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby jeffl » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:39 pm

Well I certainly wouldn't call the cadence "sing-songey"; rather, the presence of hard consonants, in numbers, is noticeable. I think literary techniques are fascinating. I'm sitting in on a Sunday School class right now that is taught by an old pastor (about 86 yrs. old) who was obviously classically trained in the art of public speaking, and worked hard at it, 'cuz the tools and techniques he uses for emphasis are impressive, especially given the fact that he uses very few notes, other than an outline that he refers to occasionally--like a couple times in an hour. I've picked up some antique sermon compilations at antique stores over the years, and some of those old timers really knew their craft. I knew guys who had studied the "hall of famers" in preparing for their speaking careers, and these guys often included Winston Churchill, William Jennings Bryan, and a slew of famous preachers in their studies. I think those classic tools of public speaking have largely gone out of use today. Obama might be one of the best, most influential public speakers we've had in this country for a while. I remember the waves he made with his keynote address at the '04 convention. There were Democrats gushing all over the place the day it happened.
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Re: Bluejay gets a poetry gig

Postby bluejay » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:59 pm

Bubba, glad to hear there isn't any "sing-song" element. It is so odd to listen to yourself in a recording and try to relate what you hear "on tape" to how you are hearing it in your head, first, and from your mouth, second. This is the first extensive recording of myself I have ever heard. But the fact that it went well and that I keep getting good feedback from audience members and those who have listened to the podcast has really given me some impetus to work on doing more such events. As you suggest, perhaps with some guitar worked in.

I know what you mean about classic rhetoric. When I was in grad school, one of the texts for our teaching colloquiem was a history of teaching English at the college level; the idea of an English Department is a rather recent invention, late 1800s as I recall. Before that, you studied oral and written rhetoric, beginning with its Western foundations in Greek and Latin. When Harvard was founded, you only had a choice of three majors -- law, medicine, and theology. All three required you to study rhetoric and Latin. Listening to Obama now, and knowing he was at the top of his law class, I can imagine he has been aware of the power of classic rhetoric for a long time.
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