Welcome To Poetry Fridays

Posted on by Dodge

Martin Farawell, Program Director, Poetry

Nigerian-born poet and novelist CHRIS ABANI has said that poets were originally shamans and seers. What better way to launch Poetry Fridays in National Poetry Month than by honoring poetry’s deep roots in the oral tradition? Take a few moments to simply listen to Abani read his poems before reading further.

A video recording of a poetry reading eliminates one of the key differences between reading a poem on the page, where you have the luxury of rereading it as often as you wish, and hearing it at a live reading, where it goes by only once.

There is an ancient tradition, which some living poets also honor, of reciting the same poem more than once at a reading so it can be heard a second time. The video recording of Chris Abani gives you the opportunity to hear him read his poems two, three, or as many times as you’d like.

You can go back and “rehear” the poem just as you would reread a written text, and revisit particular phrases, lines or passages. As with rereading, rehearing reveals layers and nuances easy to miss at first, not only in the poem itself, but in Abani’s voice, delivery, and expression.

It is the human connection that makes hearing a poet read aloud his or her own poem a unique experience. One of the beauties of the Dodge Poetry Archive samplers now on YouTube is the intimacy of the footage. What could be more human than the marvelous expression in Abani’s eyes as he begins his reading?

Indeed, Abani’s own warmth and humor add much to the poems he reads, especially considering the brutality of some images in “Histories, #1.” Once we know something about Chris Abani’s biography, we marvel that someone who endured political persecution, imprisonment and torture could be this man who writes and speaks with such tenderness and compassion toward others and toward the world.

The published text of “Geography Lesson” can be found in Chris Abani’s Dog Woman, and “The New Religion” in Hands Washing Water. “Histories, #1” will appear in a forthcoming volume.

Be sure to revisit us on upcoming Poetry Fridays, when we will feature many poets from past Dodge Poetry Festivals in the weeks ahead, including Coleman Barks, Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Martín Espada and others.

Martin Farawell, Program Director, Poetry

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9 Responses to Welcome To Poetry Fridays

  1. […] your students to visit the Poetry Fridays blog and the Dodge YouTube channel. Allow them to let their own curiosity and interest be their […]

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