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Synopsis

Close Listening brings together seventeen strikingly original essays, especially written for this volume, on the poetry reading, the sound of poetry, and the visual performance of poetry. While the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and postmodern poetry performance has been surprisingly slight. This volume, featuring work by critics and poets such as Marjorie Perloff, Susan Stewart, Johanna Drucker, Dennis Tedlock, and Susan Howe, is the first comprehensive introduction to the ways in which twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a performance art. From the performance styles of individual poets and types of poetry to the relation of sound to meaning, from historical and social approaches to poetry readings to new imaginations of prosody, the entries gathered here investigate a compelling range of topics for anyone interested in poetry. Taken together, these essays encourage new forms of "close listenings"--not only to the printed text of poems but also to tapes, performances, and other expressions of the sounded and visualized word. The time is right for such a volume: with readings, spoken word events, and the Web gaining an increasing audience for poetry, Close Listening opens a number of new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry.

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