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Poetry: Get an earful

You don't read poetry. Stuffy at best, incomprehensible at worst, and irrelevant either way, contemporary poetry rarely (if ever) insinuates itself into your heart, or even your dusty I'll-get-to-it-someday bookshelf. Right?

If written poetry seems flat and uninteresting to you, try listening to it instead. Some poetry is brought to life by the voice of the author. Would your favorite song be so darn catchy if you just read the lyrics out of a book?

These are a few of the poets whose lyricism and compelling voices jump off the page. Forget impenetrable metaphors, obscure and pedantic references, or saccharine odes to pretty little daffodils. These women are forthright, politically and socially engaged, and even funny.

Orange and Grape
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Radical. Passionate. Revolutionary.

These are probably not the first characteristics you would ascribe to poetry or poets, but they are often used to describe Muriel Rukeyser and her work. Spanning WWII, the Spanish civil war, the communist witch hunts, and the Vietnam protests, her intrepid voice challenged common perceptions and social injustices. "The Ballad of Orange and Grape" is straightforward, witty, and full of clear and evocatively gritty urban imagery.

Struggling with her role as a suburban housewife and suffering from lifelong mental illness, Anne Sexton used her poetry to plumb the shadowy depths of her body and her psyche at a time when few writers and even fewer women did so. She was also a consummate performer, and her voice in this audio clip is nothing short of spine-tingling. "Her Kind" is a stunningly crafted short poem which challenges many of the expectations and stereotypes imposed on women.

Want more poetry on audio or video? We have spoken word performances on everything from LP to DVD, from Chaucer to Def Poetry.

Submitted by Audrey @ MPL Central


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 2, 2010 9:13 AM.

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