lyrikline blog

Poetry and Performance (2) – Reading and Recording

Posted in Carolin Callies by lyrikline on 16. March 2016

poetry and p klien


Poets that read their own poetry seem rather normal to us – but what exactly is happening in the moment of such a presentation? When we asked German poets Carolin Callies about her experiences the answer was quite surprising: Whenever she finishes a poem it develops a certain independence and distance to its own creator. Accessing the poem in a state of completion becomes a theatric act that can also include a different set of voices or attitudes.


Carolin Callies Foto: Timo Volz


>>>  [a playlist for World Poetry Day 2016] studio highlights


On the other hand listening to a poet often develops closeness between the performer and the audience. Besides the individual differences in tone and voice the phonetic and rhythmic aspects of poetry suddenly appear. Rhymes, assonances and alliterations unfold their effects, verses and structures become audible compositions. Recordings can tell us about all kinds of aspects: How does the poet approach her reading? What atmosphere and intensity does she create? Where does she place the breaks, which lines are being stressed? Does she follow the original text or is she being drawn into the process?

lyrikline allows us to share this moment with hundreds of poets and listen to our favorite poems again and again.

But what does it mean when an author reads her own poems? And what about the relations between poem, author and audience? The following sketches two positions demonstrating the differences of an understanding of poetry.

A common point of view can be summarized by the following statements:

>> The written poem is a completed art work and therefore is unchangeable.
>>Every presentation of the poet is an interpretation that refers to its original.
>>The author holds a special intention that she can work out with the means of her presentation.
>>The meaning of poem can be understood best, when the author presents it, because she will interpret it correctly.

A performative approach however considers the process of the presentation already as an own artistic event.

>>A poem is not a written text but its performance. Its realization happens in the process of writing and reading.
>>The reading itself with all its coincidences and transformations is to be taken seriously. Time and space are part of the aesthetical experience.
>>This means that the signification of a poem is not firm but depends on the context. Enactments replace interpretations. The reference to an original is not necessary. An enactment imposes its own standards.
>>It is not required that the audience tries to understand the intention of the author. Its own aesthetical experience is basis of their own involvement.

Whether it is the listening to a live reading or to a recorded playlist on lyrikline: The voice of the author makes a difference. But how we perceive the result depends on our understanding of poetry that apart from the given examples can be individually cultivated.


Carolin Callies on lyrikline



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