sounds of slam and song

My relationship with sound in my poems is very much reflective of my relationship with sound in my daily life; in both instances, I rely upon sound to fill up empty spaces. Interestingly, though, the former seems to be done in an act of repression, almost, given I feel the urge to fill spaces of silence as to ensure that I don’t think too much about any one given thing. Silence, for me at least, amplifies whatever is going on in my head and if my thoughts in those moments are, for whatever reason, anxious, the results can be disastrous. In poetry, on the other hand, I fill up space with sound in a distinctive effort to confront and cope with the things that I am anxious or otherwise upset about. Filling up the silence of a blank page is not about running from my problems in the same way that filling up the silence of my daily life is; poetry, as such, becomes an act of offense, not defense.

To touch on the specifics of writing poetry, I think that sound is probably a lot more important to me than I ever realized, as is evidenced simply in that I often read my works-in-progress aloud to myself, and if sharing a completed poem with somebody, I prefer to read it aloud to them rather than letting them read it silently to themselves. Perhaps some of this behavior is rooted in fear; I am afraid that my poem will be misunderstood, and as such I feel the need to control all of the facets of sound which have the capacity to shape meaning; which words do and don’t receive emphasis, volume and tone of voice, etcetera. I also, on occasion, venture into the realm of slam poetry, which exists as performative sound, oftentimes on-stage. For me, the primary difference between writing poetry for the page and poetry to be performed is, when doing the latter, I am much more concerned with the speed with which the poem will be spoken, something which I suppose is more difficult to control when writing traditional poetry.

All in all, though, I think that my relationship with sound is evolving; it’s not an aspect of poetry which I have previously given much thought, and I think that simply by considering it as I am right now, I will be more aware of it in my writing henceforth. Additionally, I have interests in the performative aspects of poetry, both as a slam poet and as a musician (albeit, a pretty bad one).

I, as a written poet, a slam poet, and a musician, will continue to reckon with the relationship between words and sound, perhaps now more consciously, in the creation of my work.

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