Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience

‘meet for the eye of the younger alligator’ – Wallace Stevens


Nomad Exquisite is a terrific sound-and-feeling poem that pours itself out in one lovely unthinking glob. The kind of poem that would elicit rather bleating criticism in a workshop while asserting itself like a hot pulse that hasn’t the first idea what a workshop is, never mind caring what it might say. I love this poem.

Not so much this reading by Wallace Stevens, though:

Too declamatory and dramatic by half – takes itself far too seriously, is my sentiment.

This reading by a Rick Kisner at Lit2Go is more sympathetic – not so much too fast as failing to pay adequate attention to spaces and spacing, perhaps, but I like it better:

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Author: Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

2 thoughts on “‘meet for the eye of the younger alligator’ – Wallace Stevens

  1. Ah, Nic – performance and the reactions to it. While I agree that Stevens’s reading is what it is too much by half – what stenturian voice he had – still it conveys the grandeur of its vision. The second reading, though, is a rapid throwaway. It draws nothing from the poem, brings nothing to it.

  2. Hi Jay – thanks for stopping by and commenting. Agree the second reading leaves much to be desired, particularly with regard to pacing. Stevens’ reading has ideal pacing, on the other hand, which does, as you say communicate the ‘size’ of the poem effectively. After all this time on Voice Alpha, I should know better than to even hint at asserting that any one reading is ‘better’ than another. What is true is that every reading of every poem brings out something different in the poem being read. The second reading does a good job of highlighting this key line in particular, I thought:
    “Forms, flames, and the flakes of flames.”

    Best and thanks again, Nic

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