Sing it from the treetops


Recently, artist Eric Keast began creating podcasts in conjunction with his Bingorage and Broken Vulture Art Productions.  For his second podcast, Eric Keast provides us with a reading of Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Apparently Eric caught one of my brainripples, because that poem has been among my favorites for quite some time, and it was great to hear it again.

However, what stood out most in my mind after hearing Eric’s podcast wasn’t the wonderfully vivid poetry – it was a comment he made before the reading: “It’s one of those things that you’ve gotta read outloud.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Years ago I thumbed through a book about Janis Joplin, filled with pictures of her in many different settings.  In the book the comment is made that every picture the photographer took of Janis looked different.

I think that poetry is much the same sort of creature: each time you read a poem, each person who reads a poem, each time you hear a poem, each language and voice in which a poem is translated – every new perspective gives a single poem infinitely unique faces.

Sometimes I read poems over several years, and suddenly one day, upon yet another casual reading, something clicks – and the poem means something entirely new that day.  I’m like that with any art form really – paintings, songs, dances, you name it – I think that my favorite artists are often the ones who create work that is at once engaging, and yet inscrutable; I enjoy creations and creators that make me work for my understanding… like Sinéad O’Connor, or Salvador Dalí.

You’ve all heard my thoughts on The One True Interpretation.  This is just one more reason why I dislike that sort of rigid, fixed methodology of engaging with art.  I feel that not only should each viewer be free to extract her/his own meaning from artwork, but we should all be free to put on many different colored glasses, to allow for infinite possibilities of meaning, of changing meaning.  Artists breathe life into their works so that over time, that art can mature, evolve, metamorphose, and tell new stories with each new audience.

Eric inspired these thoughts with the encouragement to his audience to read poetry aloud – and I shall do the same: look at a piece of familiar art from a new perspective.

Go pull a book off the shelf, and read a piece (or two) aloud.  If you aren’t comfortable with poetry, try some other text that you like, or try poetry that’s fun and rhythmic (like Shel Silverstein).  Then work your way towards an artist whose work makes no sense to you whatsoever: whose words paint pictures with mutable, fluid colors and ever-changing meanings.

Or if you just really, really don’t like to read out loud… go to a poetry reading at the local coffee shop (or check out Eric’s podcast), and just listen.

Bingorage / Broken Vulture Art reading of Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Podcast: Eric C. Keast – Broken Vulture Art

August 26, 2006


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