Monday, May 08, 2006

Reading Poetry

I was pleased to pick up Allen Ginsberg reading "Howl and other poems", on CD. It reminded me that we should cherish these recordings more than we do. I'm wondering if there's an anthology of live recordings from the St. Marks poetry project? Google, of course, can furnish some of the answers; the online poetry archive some of the others; but this is one place where I feel the internet's difficulties in dealing with copyright material (both the recording and the writing) expose its limitations. Its not that there's particular monetary "value" in these recordings - they will never be bestsellers - but cultural value, yes indeed. And whilst the original master tapes are probably climate controlled and worth a fortune, its the wider dissemination we need. There's only 3 Ginsberg poems currently on the poetry archive, and its choice of Real Player is annoying, since it requires an intrusive download - why wasn't a choice of players considered? Also a quick scan sees the absence of such as Eliot, Plath and Lowell amongst others. It's early days I guess, and copyright is always problematic - but listening to poetry - whether in a classroom, on the radio or a podcast seems as good a way as any as educating and enlightening. Each poet links to an expensive CD which can only ever have a very limited audience. It would be great if some of the contemporary poets herein had looked to creative commons licences and the like. I prefer the internet archive - a lecture by Anne Waldman for instance; or Ubuweb; I'm sure this all has some commercial value but I guess its limited, even a Plath reading. And of course you can buy CDs, ever more cheaply, which makes all the arguments against putting this stuff on the web in as accessible way as possible, deeply flawed. Writers are often interviewed, but wonder how many of the festival readings this year will be recorded for posterity? The BBC is wrestling with all this on a global scale; but it would be good to see more poetry made available - it can surely be free at point of use and maybe the arts council or the BBC pays the poets? Luckily you can catch the Verberate readings on the web and CD, and Comma are archiving many of their readings. Then there's Route with their book/CD projects, and the inimitable AK Press. You can get the book of Gynomite: Fearless Feminist Porn poetry from them; but I managed to pick up the CD, which doesn't seem to be available anywhere, when I was in Los Angeles 10 years ago, a prized possession.

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