The performance of poetry : a creative approach to selected poems

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Howard Rodney Martin (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Thomas Tedford

Abstract: The thesis is that poetry is inherently dramatic in nature and may therefore be staged in the manner of a theatrical production. The dramatic definition of poetry is first established by looking at the means poets use to objectify experience—metaphor, rhythm, movement, and texture—and showing how these provide poems with qualities that can be acted out: visual qualities to be seen, auditory qualities to be heard, kinaesthetic qualities to be felt, and tensive qualities to be illustrated and reinforced. This view of poetry is supported by evidence from the history of oral Interpretation, from rhetorical theory, and from literary criticism. Critics such as Kenneth Burke, John Ciardi, and R. P. Blackmur argue that many poems are "dramatic" in their shift from problem to resolution, or from conflict to climax, and in their possession of characters (speakers), setting, and action. There are three major advantages to be gained from staging the performance of poetry in the manner of a theatrical production, (1) Illustrations Staged performance illustrates and amplifies the poem, making explicit for an audience what should already be implicit for a good reader. Of particular value in this is the "performance context" which attempts to introduce the idioms of the poems to the audience before the actual reading takes place. (2) Reinforcement 1 Staged performance may reveal qualities in the poem which are not apparent in a silent reading, especially qualities of rhythm and sound. (3) Celebration: By engaging numbers of people to perform poetry, linking it with other ritualistic forms—dance, drama, music—and encouraging its identification with play, we begin to reassign to poetry its primitive role as a controlling force and celebrative mode in the life of man.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1973
Oral interpretation of poetry
Drama in education
Dramatic music

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