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[I'm interested in the comments this entry is getting, so I'm changing its date to keep it current.]

Readers and writers of poetry: what sort of music do you listen to? How does it compare to the (type of) poetry you prefer? What's the musical equivalent of, say, language poetry? Or what's the poetic equivalent of jazz or the blues or reggae? If John Ashbery were a composer and musician instead of a poet, what sort of music would he be writing and playing, and would you be singing it in the shower? Do readers and writers of experimental poetry who have little time for other sorts of poetry (because it's too simple, old-fashioned, unadventurous, unexperimental, whatever) have a problem with music that has standard structures, standard scales, etc.?
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At 11:08 PM, Blogger elbowlina replied:

My taste in music is so different to my taste in poetry that I've no idea where to start.

I guess things that are similar, that I like about both, is the story element. I am attracted to stories and nonsense and images.

A very interesting question.    



At 2:18 AM, Blogger Soon replied:

On the soundstage, it's more on the front of an energetic style wrapping around some sort of tale. The clearer the more linear segments of the song are, the better the listening experience.

On poetry, a similar breath of kinetic, but favouring more on the side of the surreal and strange. Looking less for poems that tell a story and more on how many inverted loops it creates.    



At 5:30 AM, Blogger Freaked-Out Ethel replied:

You need to hear Ken Nordine and his wordjazz poetry. Wordjazz.com, he has streaming clips of over 30 years of the most wonderful things you have ever heard.

For me, my musical collection is waaaay varied. (The Residents, Yo Yo Ma, Laurie Anderson, Beastie Boys, Billie Holiday, it goes on and on) I have different "voices" I write in also and some of it is related to the music I am listening to but only as a spice. The meat and texture is all me. Check out my blog and see what you think.    



At 7:15 AM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

Elbowlina: do you hold song lyrics and poetry up to the same artistic standards? And is the music you like (not the lyrics) as artistically ambitious as the poetry? Or do you let the music slide because for some reason you just like the damned stuff and you don't care whether it is art?

Soon: why do you look for something different in each? If the surreal pleases you in one form, why is a linear story better in the other? Do you put music and poetry to different uses? Do you take one art form more seriously than the other?

Ethel: looking at the first few entries on your blog, I see rhyme and rhythm that would fit well with standard popular song structures.    



At 7:36 AM, Blogger elbowlina replied:

I do both.

For example I love folk music like Gillian Welch's Caleb Myer which is a song about a woman alone being attacked by a man and how she slits his throat. It's more poetic than that, and perfect. It's folky and accented.

My most favourite loves are people who have something to say and say it well whether it's big words, clever rhymes or things I never would have thought to say. Like Ani DiFranco and Fiona Apple. I know that people won't agree with me. But then there's Tori Amos and she sometimes writes nonsense, or at least things that I have to give meaning because it's hard to find any.

This is so hard to talk about, because it's also about the things that these musicians do. Like I love piano and folky guitar. Which I guess are things that often accompany stories.

But then I sometimes like sugary, crappy pop. Or songs that have appalling lyrics. But I never love these songs. They never run around in my head, or make me think about them or make me want to expand the story.

I used to be a music nazi, and I still have a soft spot for things like God Speed You Black Emperor, which (the stuff I listen to) doesn't really have any lyrics, but can sometimes be poetry because of what it evokes.

I guess that the moral of this is that if it's candy I'll tolerate it, but to love it, it has to be clever, or beautiful, or interesting, or experimental.

So hard!

I think that Bobby McFerrin's Circle Songs is fantastic. Not words, but more than music.    



At 9:01 AM, Blogger Soon replied:

eeksypeeksy: I inject my brain with poetry and music through different orifices. What I can take through the eyeballs requires more concentration than when I take to having it jammed through the ears. For me it's all about reception.

Not to say that I won't take the surreal in stereo and straightforward in story off a page. Less on taking one form more serious than the other and more on how my mind choose to enjoy or relax best in the medium.    



At 9:43 AM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

Soon: then what about poetry readings? Do you go to them?    



At 10:46 PM, Blogger Soon replied:

Poetry readings always seem to want to start later and later in the night than I can handle. Like as if they can't start at a reasonable time and run to when they say they'll start.

Looking to see if I can't hit up all of the upcoming poetry slam heats in NSW though. Finals might be a bit too pricey though.    



At 11:30 PM, Blogger Auntie Sarah replied:

Oh boy, is it too late to answer?

1. There are very few types of music I don’t listen to. Not much Muzak and not much Top 40, I guess.

2. Definitely my preferences fall into two categories: fantastically beautiful, or lots of fun. So, Satie and Russell Edson, Cocteau Twins and Yeats, Miles Davis and James Wright.

3. I’ve always connected Bach fugues with Donne’s sonnets. Both are rigid forms, and Bach and Donne did amazing things with them.

4. I think of John Cage when I think of John Ashbery. I don't think of either in the shower. Although maybe now I will.

5. I don’t consider myself particularly experimental but I get awfully bored with “Grandmother’s Hands” and “My Battle With [name of disease or family dysfunction]” poetry. I also get bored with Top 40 music.

For the record: I don't hold song lyrics to the same standards, as they are propped up by the music. But I do consider some song writers (say, Joni Mitchell) to be mighty poetic.

Why do you ask?    



At 12:20 AM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

> Why do you ask?

Well... I was wondering if people listen to the musical equivalent (whatever that might be) of the poetry they read, or whether they have different sorts of taste for music and poetry.

Wouldn't you think there would be some sort of coherence? Like, at the simplest level, if you laugh at poems that rhyme, shouldn't you laugh at songs that rhyme? Or if you think poetry in which an ordered series of complete and normal sentences tell a story is old-fashioned, silly, and not worth your time as an artist, shouldn't you have similar ideas about music and shouldn't you not be listening to pretty much anything that is ever played on the radio outside the occasional experimental show?

Something like that. I was hoping to ask more than to tell.    



At 9:51 AM, Blogger elbowlina replied:

I was a musician before I wrote poetry. It's a difficult thing, but I don't necessarily think that there will be parallels. Writing for music is very different to writing for page, or voice or even song.

Also musically, I'm willing to put up with more experimentation and incoherence than poetry. I want to know something, and a convergence of notes in a way that you wouldn't expect is much more meaningful to me than a selection of words and letters and symbols I often can't define meaning from.

I think that has more to do with me and my history than anything. I'd be interested in knowing someone else's perspective on this. I started playing the piano at 7 and the cello at 12 and didn't start writing creatively until 15.    



At 6:10 PM, Blogger Auntie Sarah replied:

I don't think it would be possible to boil it down to "If subject 'A' likes Aaron Copland, s/he will like William Stafford." People listen to/read things for so many different reasons.

The same musical passage may conjure up acrobats and tweezers for one person, and remind another of a raging fire.

I guess the exception would be people's identities. If all your friends are listening to Aaron Copland and reading William Stafford, you are more likely to do the same, regardless of whether you've filed them both in the same brain space before.    



At 7:09 PM, Blogger Michelle e o replied:

Music: If it rocks my hips or lips, I like it. Yes, even classical can rock you. (I'm not fond of most country music though, maybe because I haven't exposed myself to much of it).

Poetry: If it rocks my mind, a moment or a thought, I like it.

I can't put catagories on anything art. Each piece stands alone, to be heard or read, to be judged, alone.    



At 8:01 PM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

Auntie Sarah said... "I don't think it would be possible to boil it down to "If subject 'A' likes Aaron Copland, s/he will like William Stafford.""

I wouldn't expect that. But I would expect someone who makes a point of reading only the most experimental poetry available (and maybe scorning the mainstream stuff and its readers) to do a little more with music than just turn on a local pop radio station or buy the latest hit recordings.    



At 8:45 PM, Blogger Thin Black Duke replied:

My, my. What sort of music do I listen to? I worked in record stores for 10 years. I can honestly say that my tastes run the full gamut of styles. I almost always write with music playing, usually Jazz, and the language of the blues is a major influence on my poetry.

I love the pop song (meaning The Zombies, The Left Banke, and the like), but I don't really care for the poetic equivalent (at least as I understand it).

Didn't Ashbery say that he wants to achieve in poetry what music does when it shows us the structure of arguments or something like that? With that in mind, I think Ashbery the musician would sound much like the german experimental band Einstürzende Neubauten--a great band, but definitely not shower material.    



At 9:20 PM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

Kevin Andre Elliott said... "I love the pop song (meaning The Zombies, The Left Banke, and the like), but I don't really care for the poetic equivalent (at least as I understand it)."

I suppose a lot of people are like that. Why do we give pop music so much slack but we jump all over pop poetry? Is it the toodly Zombies melodies that have us hypnotized?    



At 9:25 PM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

By the way, here are some Einstürzende Neubauten tunes to listen to:
http://www.neubauten.org/en-audio.html

Musically, I imagine Ashbery would be Pat Boone after a head injury.    



At 10:38 PM, Blogger eeksypeeksy replied:

I probably should have added that I like Ashbery (and I'd probably like Pat Boone with a head injury).    



At 4:01 AM, Blogger Lyle Daggett replied:

If the poetry I like to read and the music I like to listen to have anything in common, I guess I'd say that they both have a quality of large presence, they embody a large range of experience and feeling and perception and aesthetic effect.

(I'm not necessarily talking about long or short forms -- a haiku or tanka can be large in the ways I talked about above, and a book-length poem can be small. I tend to prefer poetry, music, art, that in some way reaches across distances.)

Some poets whose work I've read much over the years, whose poetry reaches deeply into me, are Thomas McGrath, Sharon Doubiago, Federico Garcia Lorca, Tomas Transtromer, Kenneth Rexroth, Yosano Akiko, Tu Fu (or Du Fu), Miroslav Holub, Pablo Neruda, Joy Harjo, Nancy Morejon, Basho, Sappho, Anuradha Mahapatra. Among others.

Some of the music I listen to, that feels to me to connect with the places poetry connects with in me, and that poems come from, includes Joni Mitchell, Igor Stravinsky, Beethoven, Chopin, Tori Amos, Joaquin Rodrigo, Miles Davis, Bach, Pete Seeger, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Mikis Theodorakis, Nina Simone, Bjork, and various folk music field recordings from all over the place.

The musical equivalent of language poetry might be something like Schoenberg or Webern, or their more recent musical descendents. Some post-modernish experiments (the same word printed on the page fifty times in straight rows, etc.) remind me of John Adams or Philip Glass.

Lots of song lyrics work well as song lyrics even if they don't work well alone as poetry. This makes sense; as song lyrics, the music is there to carry the words. (Of course it's wonderful when both the words and music are strong -- one of the commenters mentioned Joni Mitchell, and I think of her this way too.)

I also have an easier time tolerating highly experimental music (the musical equivalent of a "language" poem) than I have tolerating highly experimental poetry. I think this is because music (or "pure" sound) isn't connected to a cognitive or etymological meaning the way a word is, it can express as pure music or sound by itself and remain communicative.    



At 7:05 AM, Blogger cheesemeister replied:

what sort of music do you listen to?
Classic rock, old school rap, country and world (African, Irish)

How does it compare to the (type of) poetry you prefer?
Very eclectic mix. I like all kinds of things.

What's the musical equivalent of, say, language poetry?
I'm not sure on this. Perhaps certain rap songs?

Or what's the poetic equivalent of jazz or the blues or reggae?
Probably someone like Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

If John Ashbery were a composer and musician instead of a poet, what sort of music would he be writing and playing, and would you be singing it in the shower?
I tend to fall asleep in the bath!

Do readers and writers of experimental poetry who have little time for other sorts of poetry (because it's too simple, old-fashioned, unadventurous, unexperimental, whatever) have a problem with music that has standard structures, standard scales, etc.?
Probably, if they're going to be that uptight about it. There's such a thing as being rigid about being "experimental" or "new."

This was fun!
Peace.    



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