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Hearing the Form: Breath, Pulse and Measure in 20th Century American Poetry
Wed 15 November 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pmFree
Wed 15 Nov, Durham
In his manifesto ‘Projective Verse’ (1950) Charles Olson proposed a new view of poetic structure based on the breath. Olson’s polemic acted as a focus for a group of American poets loosely attached to Black Mountain College, which was associated with experimentation in the arts more generally, and became a central document for much later 20th Century American poetry. Olson’s ideas were taken up, developed and modified by established poets, including William Carlos Williams, and by younger writers with whom both Olson and Williams entered into dialogue, including Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov. This lecture will examine Olson’s breath-related theories of poetic structure and backgrounds to his ideas in earlier American writing. It will consider how poems related to his ideas were presented on the page; using the considerable archive of their extant audio and video recordings, how breath-based theories about structure can be heard in the poems as these were performed by the poets themselves; how ears acculturated to the meters of European poetry can learn to hear and perform for themselves the measures of poetry based in American demotic; and whether a poem is a poem until the reader has learned how to hear its form.
Free, no need to book. All welcome.
6.15pm start, ER142, Elvet Riverside 1, New Elvet, Durham
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