Saturday, February 7, 2015

online pop culture analysis is stupid and wrong, film at 11

LOUISE FUCKING GLUCK IS THE SOURCE OF POET VOICE? LOL NO. Samuel R. Delany talks about this EXACT thing in his writing memoir, The Motion of Light in Water, which is set IN THE EARLY SIXTIES, and pinpoints the actual source: Dylan Thomas. If you want to blame affected "poetry reading" voice on someone, start at the fountainhead. (I've heard Gluck read in person, as I suspect this person hasn't, and she didn't have "lofty" "poet voice" at all; her reading was deliberately almost affectless.)  But 1) nobody knows about Dylan Thomas anymore, especially  writers, and 2) it's always so much more fun to blame something on a woman, isn't it? 

Thomas probably was influenced by Yeats, who gets a brief mention in the article because SOMEONE ELSE BRINGS HIM UP, and who did have a terribly odd, wavering reading style, but Dylan Thomas was THE wildly, internationally popular poet-reader, much moreso than Yeats (one of the reasons for that was he performed other peoples' poems and plays at his readings, as well as his own, which helped standardize the idea that this was How To Read Poetry). If you want to blame any fucking one for "poet voice," try the grand triumvirate of Yeats, Thomas and probably Robert Lowell; possibly Eliot. But Thomas was the one who set that style of reading. (And hell, IIRC, even the wilder poets of the sixties, like Ginsberg and Sexton, read that way.) Yes, it is indeed the voice of the Academy, of Caedmon (and let's not even consider how 1950s recording/editing technology affected the readings, because why bother knowing about the past?), the register of This Is Poetry You Are Listening To, the diction of the literary elite. And there's a reason for that, because it started with the canonized-in-stone white male upper-class poets of the 1950s. Not Louise Gluck.

(If you really want to get into it, Dylan Thomas was probably greatly influenced by the BBC's Third Programme, and IIRC his parents also paid for special elocution lessons to expunge his natural accent, BUT ANYWAY.)