Saturday, February 7, 2015

it's amazing what you can learn, when you read fucking books instead of websites

Even today [1988], when most people read a line of poetry -- and if it's common now, it was rampant in the fifties -- they will, on reaching the line's end, close with a rising inflection. For most people this is a way to signal what they're reading is poetry, rather than prose. (Listen to a record of Sylvia Plath reading her own poems. That's the way everybody read poems in the fifties. Where did we learn it? Probably from those recordings of Dylan Thomas that every bright fourteen-year-old with literary ambitions owned. Even if you didn't like the poems, you loved the voice.) Risa [Korsun] stopped Marilyn [Hacker] in the middle of one of the poems to explain: "Even if it's poetry, dear, you've got to read it as though it were a sentence someone was saying. Drop your tone at the end of the line, the way you do at the end of an ordinary sentence."

- Samuel R. Delany, The Motion of Light in Water, writing about a 1960 gathering