Safe inside, we listen to the howling wind
as it rips up foliage and tears limb from limb
branches from ancient birch and oak.
Ghostly draughts creep into every nook
and cranny, they squeeze under doors
and whistle dirges down the chimney.
Outside, the wind, still duetting with the trees,
sighs in more steadfast branches
and rustles piles of fallen leaves.
Kim M. Russell, 22nd October 2020
My response to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: Let your words ring out
Peter, our host this Thursday, starts his prompt with a quote from Wallace Stevens: ‘sound is the principal business of poetry’, which is true whether you read poetry silently to yourself or read it aloud. Peter has explored three cool things about sound and given us a fun exercise.
The first cool thing is scientific. He says that MRI studies have shown that, unlike prose, poetry is processed by both hemispheres of the brain, and areas associated with memory, introspection and music appreciation all light up when people read poetry. He has illustrated this with a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The second cool thing is that English is relatively impoverished for sound, which means we improvise with onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, sibilance, rhyme, rhythm, and repetition. Examples are from Gwendoline Brooks and Omar Sakr.
The final cool thing is extreme sounding, Welsh poetry and one of my all-time favourites, Dylan Thomas, whose prose is just a poetic as his poetry. I can see and hear the Welsh influence in the example of Australian poet Melinda Smith’s ‘Submergence’.
How can we fail to be inspired to write poems with a focus on sounds? Peter asks us to look at a poem in our draft pile that needs a sound lift or write something new. The important thing is to listen for those sounds by reading our drafts out loud, reading them to partners, neighbours, cats or dogs.