Friday, December 02, 2005

Streaming Poetry @ The Poetry Archive

The Poetry Archive is fully operational, with a pretty extensive collection of audio files from 80 poets, present and past. (Andrew Motion introduces the project in the Times of London, here.) If you've never heard Yeats or Tennyson reading in their own voices (on wax cylinder recordings), now you can for free. Each of the contemporary poets has some free streaming audio files available, but you can buy CDs of the contemporary people doing more of their poems.

In terms of Indian poets, Sujata Bhatt has three poems available. I'm not a huge fan of Sujata Bhatt's work on the whole, though I do find the following lines from "A Different History" provoking:

Which language
has not been the oppressor's tongue?
Which language
truly meant to murder someone?
And how does it happen
that after the torture
after the soul has been cropped out
of the conqueror's face--
the unborn grandchildren
grow to love that strange language?

I like the drift of these lines, though I find the way it ends a shade too obvious.

I prefer the Brit-Iranian poet Mimi Khalvati. Listen to her "Ghazal" -- very clever!

Or try the Jamaican Jean 'Binta' Breeze. Even within the three poems online she uses different dialects and voices. "Could it be?" is in standard English, while "The Arrival of Brighteye" is in Jamaican Patois. With Breeze's poetry especially, you get something out of hearing her do it that you simply wouldn't get on the page.

[Thanks for the tip, Ed]


ana beynaam said...

ghazal is rather clever, and sensual as well. i like jean binta breeze's poems. . . and i could actually understand all of the patois this time, even if i didn't read along. there are some patois speakers i've been unable to follow completely.

i'm going to check out poetry archive more often from now on. . .

Anonymous said...

Great site - but no Philip Larkin! I know he did record for the BBC. Lets hope they manage to put something of his up there. Kudos to Andrew Motion and the others for their excellent efforts.



Amardeep said...

You're right, Philip Larkin is a definite gaping hole. As is (in my view) W.H. Auden.

But those choices may be out of the editors' hands: the estates of many poets might restrict their use for this purpose.