Deceptively simple on the page, Donato Mancini’s poem “you aren’t going to like what i have to say” from his 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Same Diff takes on new meanings as you spend more time with it. If you read it aloud … even more so. (Go ahead, try it!) And if you…
Deceptively simple on the page, Donato Mancini’s poem “you aren’t going to like what i have to say” from his 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Same Diff takes on new meanings as you spend more time with it. If you read it aloud … even more so. (Go ahead, try it!) And if you have the opportunity to have the poem read to you – perhaps by the poet himself – even more new contexts, qualities and meanings might surface.
In his contemplation of poetics and performance in Jacket2 in 2013, David Buuck pauses to consider:
“… the interplay between page and performance can inform each other … where the performance of the poem moves well beyond the treatment of the poem as a static object awaiting vocalization to a thinking-writing-performing through/with the poem (and, importantly, the social contexts of its performance) as a way to activate manifold potentialities in the work, such that each reading is both an interpretation as well as a further investigation into how the poem ‘means’.”
1 cf for example, Close Listening, ed Charles Bernstein & Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance, & Site-Specificity, eds David Kennedy & Keith Tuma, as well as Steve Evans’ commentaries here on Jacket2.
However deeply (or not) you want to go into what performing a poem does for that poem’s meaning and resonances, there is no denying that poetry readings enrich, entertain and add new dimensions. How fortunate we were in 2018 to have Mancini read the poem to a rapt and appreciative audience listening in Toronto’s Koerner Hall and on our livestream, and how wonderful that we can still enjoy that performance today:
Whether you took in his reading then or are experiencing it now for the first time, how do you find this presentation works with and enhances the words you see on the page / screen?
Annually, the shortlist readings have been an important part of the celebration of the Griffin Poetry Prize. The live events have been special and memorable occasions, and we’ve archived the livestreams and selected individual readings so poetry lovers can revisit and replay them, extending the unique glow of those presentations.
While the singular challenges of 2020 meant curtailing the shortlist readings, we still captured some special audio presentations with the gracious and resourceful efforts of the 2020 shortlisted poets, embellished with video detailing that sets off the words beautifully, if we do say so ourselves. Here is Kaie Kellough’s reading from Magnetic Equator:
and the rest of the 2020 readings are here for your enjoyment.
As always, we want poetry lovers to relish the poetry on the page and derive additional and new perspectives from it in performance.