Poetry and Performance (3) – No Performance without an audience
Talking about a performance is talking about the performers. While they appear in bright spotlights the audience is often seated in the dark receiving patiently what is being presented. As an author and poet Anja Utler knows the position of the performers. But besides her artistic work she engages in questions that also ask for the role of the audience. After working on a research project she published a book about the perception of spoken poetry. “manchmal sehr mitreißend”. Zur poetischen Erfahrung gesprochener Gedichte (transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, 2016) is a detailed analysis of the receptive processes during a poetry reading on the background of performative aesthetics.
In an interview with lyrikline Anja Utler explained that the feedback she got for her own readings was the starting point for her interest: Why did so many people insist that they had to listen to her poetry to be able to understand it? Listening to a text allows a different perception of it. In her book Utler describes the process of perception between the poem and the recipient while the role of the performing poet is put back. But not everybody agreed on her statement that the person reciting the poem is exchangeable.
The importance of the role of the recipients demands a new approach to the receptive process of spoken poetry. A performative approach to a poetical reading allows us to focus on the event character of a poetical experience. Instead of a distance that imposes an understanding (which can be the case with prose) the experience of poetry is a process of engagement. Reading as well as listening can be seen as possibilities of engagement that each need to be considered as an autonomous way of the perception of poetry. According to Utler a good poem-recipient-relation is opening a space for the speculative and offers a new perspective on our own thoughts and ideas.