• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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    Senior Video Producer

    Devin Hahn

    Devin Hahn creates video content for BU Today, Bostonia online, and The Brink. He is a producer, a cameraman, an editor, and, under duress, a writer. Profile

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There are 7 comments on Poetry as the Heard Word

  1. In a year of weekly poetry readings (to an online audience of 15-30) I passed around the text of the poems while I was reading them aloud. I presume this allowed my audience to ‘catch up’ if their attention lapsed or they misheard a word, as well as experience the variation between my reading and their internally voiced reading of the poem. – Many of the poems were written by poets in attendance, who thus experienced their words read aloud by someone else. – Depending on the reader, I prefer my poems read aloud by someone else. The reader giving it a different emphasis often hightlights hidden meanings or what I wrote as secondary meanings.

  2. I find that the reader stands between me and the poem when I am hearing it aloud. When I read it silently from the words on the page, I am free to travel with it.

  3. Reading a poem on the page is perhaps preferable: you can see the lines, the enjambments, which are heightened by the bare page on which the poem is written. These are not so apparent when the poem is read for you. On the other hand, having the poem read for you may heighten other technicalities: alliteration, assonance, general word-play, rhyme. So both ways of experiencing a poem are rewarding. A poem one really likes, in order to be savoured, benefits from both kinds of transmission: one wants to read it for oneself and one wants to hear it read, if possible by the author himself/herself.

  4. Poetry, like music, is an ‘aural’ art, only accessible to our feeling when we listen to it inside. Both arts have an external component (voice, sound, text, etc…) but always resonate deeply as an internal experience that we’re invited to hear, whether read aloud or silently to ourselves. Poems in print and voice are two media for the same message – are you in a place to enunciate the poem, or is it a quiet moment of unheard sound?

    Physical expression can dissolve boundaries between inside and out, self and other, creating an experience of communion. We share in each other by listening together in the same moment! And that is new and different, uniquely accentuated, every time.

  5. Poetry, having its roots in orally transmitted stories, is something that should be listened to out loud. Whenever I read a poem to myself I seem to miss out on the literary stylistic devices, such as alliteration. That being said, it seems possible for someone to interoperate the meaning of the poem differently reading it, opposed to hearing it.

  6. Thank you for sharing this terrific project in this interactive format. Having struggled for years to “get” poetry by reading it, i felt as if a new world opened up when I heard Charles Wright read from his work some 15 years ago and then had the pleasure of sitting next to him at lunch. Although I am not sure that hearing poetry *changes* its meaning, hearing it certainly *gave* it meaning to me.

  7. To make a poem
    is to speak the hush
    and speaking the hush
    to bespeak silence
    that speaks for all things
    that need not be said
    to be soundly heard.

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