Poems aren’t Microphones
One is a chunk (or microscopic spec) of metal, wires and technical magic, while the other is just magical. Or just plain God-awful, depending on the poet.
Luckily for you, I’m not a poet.
I’m a writer bent on semiotics and a musician with a sensitive ear. So, clearly, I despise hearing my poems read out loud. Why? There are a great deal of subconscious, emotional, linguistic and cultural influences that feed themselves into spoken word. No two people will ever read a poem aloud the same way. Minute inflections, pauses, breaths, quavers, pitches and other details will vary from speaker to speaker and even from moment to moment.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a sincere appreciation for the spoken word. It has a jazz-like beauty to it; there is an art to its performance.
But it is a performance. It is something that evolves in each audience over time through a very auditory process. Any shift in that auditory delivery can affect the meaning of the poem, itself.
My poems are visual.
No, they’re not diamantes or arranged into elegant designs. Actually, if you’ve been around me for any length of time, you can probably tell they’re pretty sparse. And there’s a reason for that.
I write for the eyes. When your eyes pass over my poem, instead of interpreting a performer’s sounds over time, your eyes unlock meaning nearly instantaneously. I can’t control what pops into your head when I shoot out the word “tangerine” but I can pretty much bank that something is popping up in your neural circuits. That something is raw, primitive and shaped by your consciousness, your experiences. There is no mediator interpreting words for you to reinterpret. When I send out words, the instant your eyes gobble them up, they become a part of you. It’s the most direct, most human connection I could ever make.
In the end, that’s one of my goals as a creative- to become human, reflect humanity, connect with humanity. The lack of punctuation in my poems is a stripping of formalities. The lowercase “I” is a sign of humility, of diminishing my voice so your own voice can speak louder right from the speakers of your own mind.
I am not a poet, but I am a writer. And in my world, the spoken word and the written word don’t necessarily have to be two different things. But they have the potential to be. And maybe, just maybe that isn’t all so bad.