Monday, July 31, 2006

oral poetry means podcast and vlog

I am dead serious when I say you must:

(1) abandon plain text blogging

(2) start mixing text, photo, podcast, and video into your corporate web site and CEO blogging.

All arts and businesses are becoming more online, more transmitable, and engaging more of the human senses. Soon, we will have blogs we can smell and taste. Just kidding, but come on. Get with the flow.

Go audio, go video.

Come out, I command, from behind your computer and show your bad self. Warts and worries and all.

Here is a scholarly treatise by a respected author, an article that reinforces the idea of putting the sound of your voice, and the moving image of your animated face, in front of your audience. Not just typed text, that's so 2005...

Notes Toward a New Bohemia
by Dana Gioia


Twenty years ago, I started graduate school.

I was a working-class kid from L.A.—half-Italian, half-Mexican.

Entering Harvard Graduate School in Comp. Lit.,

I paid meticulous attention to the literary culture around me in the same spirit an anthropologist might observe the rituals of some newly discovered tribe.

I wanted to understand how the literary world operated, especially its assumptions about contemporary poetry. The poetry world was well-defined back then, but during the last two decades it has changed in important and sometimes even astonishing ways that are still not well understood. Tonight I would like to provide a quick overview of the current state of American poetry by making a dozen observations.

What these various trends have in common is that they represent significant changes in our literary culture that either would have been impossible to imagine twenty years ago or would have appeared too marginal to become influential. I am not interested in judging most of these trends—only in observing and understanding them.

The first observation is that the primary means of publication for new American poetry is now oral.

While books and journals continue to appear and remain crucially important in sustaining literary reputations, they no longer enjoy a monopoly on disseminating poetry, especially new poetry.

For almost every living American poet, public readings, whether they are live or electronic (via radio, TV, or tape-cassette), now constitute the major means of reaching an audience. This situation applies as equally to older academic poets like John Hollander or Daniel Hoffman as its does to younger poets of every school.

The return to oral performance represents an enormous paradigm shift away from print culture.

Until quite recently, most poets didn't give readings until their work appeared in print, and even then public readings were generally few and infrequent. Robinson Jeffers, one of the few major twentieth century American poets who actually made a living off poetry, was 54 when he gave his first public reading; Wallace Stevens was nearly 60.

If you listen to their recordings, you will notice that neither man is comfortable reading his work aloud.

The shift away from print culture to an audiovisual, electronic culture has had an enormous impact. Today the physical audience listening to live poetry vastly outnumbers the people who read it in books.

The shift from print to oral publication leads to my second observation: there has been a huge reemergence of populist oral poetry, largely among groups who were alienated from the dominant, academic, literary culture.

The new schools of populist poetry include rap, cowboy poetry, and poetry slams, which together command audiences in the millions. No one would have predicted this development twenty years ago.


This just makes me even more stubborn about my proclamation: people want to hear you and see you. So you had better comply with their desires, or be cut off. It doesn't take courage or risky recklessness. All it takes is: Do It. Now.



tonight I registered for a secure server home page at University of Texas at Austin, for the access to literary collections. they also have an IT department to explore. all free. it's a revolution: Everything Free Always. get with it.


CK said...

"Come out, I command, from behind your computer and show your bad self. Warts and worries and all."

Well, only since you're commanding me...I'm on it. Warts and worries aside, I can't agree with you more.
Thanks for staying on top of us to stay on top of ourselves. You do us a great favor--I do hope others realize it, too.

Thanks for oh-so-poetically kicking my butt into the podosphere and vlogosphere.

steven edward streight said...

CK: thanks for the remarks.

My next post on Future of the Web will explain the terrifyingly exciting new realm we are moving toward.

Think: tele-presence.

Way beyond simple text, photo, audio, video.

Next wave = projecting a realistic image of your bad self right into the room of the user.

Time to diet for real!