07 - performing

Update, August 24, 2010

exercise a text is as much about musicality and emotion, than it is about meaning and pronunciation. Try to find the best way of rendering the poems with your voice.

"Ted Hughes writes:

Poetry in the Making from the programme "Listening and writing", 1967.
published by Faber
ISBN: 0-571-09076-1
Reading Milton or Keats to children is one thing. Asking them, or allowing them, to use such as models for their own writing is another. All falsities of writing - and the consequent dry-rot that spreads into the whole fabric - comes from the notion that there is a stylistic ideal which exists in the abstract, like a special language, to which all men might attain. (...)

So in my examples I have avoided specimens whose great and celebrated charms or powers are beyond the sympathies of children. I have stuck to poems where the language is basically plain, modern speech, and the mental operation simple or very simplified - as in description or fable. At the same time, there will be inevitably more artistic and intellectual complexity in these works than any child will exhaust.

How can a poem, for instance, about a walk in the rain be like an animal? Well, perhaps it cannot look much like a giraffe, or an emu or an octopus, or anything you might find in a menagerie. It is better to call it an assembly of living parts moved by a simple spirit. The living parts are the words, the images, the rhythms. The spirit is the life that inhabits them when they all work together. It is impossible to say which comes first, parts or spirits. But if any of the parts are dead... if any of the words of images or rhythms do no jump to life as you read them... then the creature is going to be maimed and the spirit sickly. So, as a poet, you have to make sure that all those parts over which you have control, the words and rhythms and images, are alive (...)

Well, you will say, this is hopeless. How do you control all that? When the words are pouring out, how can you be sure that you do not have one of those side meanings of the word "feathers" getting all stuck up with one of the side meanings of the world "treacle", a few words later. In bad poetry, this is exactly what happens, the words kill each other. Luckily you don't have to bother about it so long as you do one thing.

The one thing is, imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think about it laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetics. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it, when you do this, the words look after themselves like magic... The minute you flinch, and take your mind off this thing, and begin to look at the words and worry about them... then your worry goes into them and they set about killing each other. So you keep going as long as you can, then look back and see what you have written. After a bit of practice, after telling yourself that you do not care how other people have written about this thing, this is the way you find it, and after telling yourself you are going to use any old word so long as it seems right at the moment of writing down, you will surprise yourself. You will read through what you have written and you will get a shock. You will have captured a spirit, a creature.


this page was compiled by zebras54 (2002-2010) and  is dedicated to Mairtin Crawford, Belfast poet and journalist (1967-2004).

Rainer Maria Rilke
Born in Prague , poem in German
Die Dinge singen hör ich so gern

Ich fürchte mich so vor der Menschen Wort.
Sie sprechen alles so deutlich aus:
Und dieses heißt Hund und jenes heißt Haus,
und hier ist Beginn und das Ende ist dort.

Mich bangt auch ihr Sinn, ihr Spiel mit dem Spott.
Sie wissen alles, was wird und war,
kein Berg ist ihnen mehr wunderbar;
ihr Garten und Gut grenzt gerade an Gott.

Ich will immer warnen und wehren: Bleibt fern.
Die Dinge singen hör ich so gern.
Ihr rührt sie an: sie sind starr und stumm.
Ihr bringt mir alle die Dinge um.

Sammlung gemeinfreier Gedichte, collection of classic poems in public property

There are two youtube videos where you can see two different interpretations of this classic poem by Rilke - one is by Oskar Werner, and the other by Xavier Naidoo. This is to give our readers here and idea how the poetic German language sounds like.
In English: videos with poems by Simon Armitage and W.H. Auden.

This is a poem by Louis McNiece from Northern Ireland

My friend Mairtin Crawford introduced me to poems by Auden and McNiece and was himself a writer who had an influence on me and many other writers and poets from Belfast because of his talent and local involvement.

Untitled Sonnet
by Mairtin Crawford
What are we looking for all these years
It can't be far from us through seasons change
Light's sensuous quality and our perceptions
Altered irrevocably. Like autumn sunlight
It's colder glance reminds us that there's
More to life than summers of indolent repose
What we have we cannot help but lose
None of it can go on forever

But behind Winter there's always Spring
You can't go on in silence imagining
The pure idea of silence. Look out
Your window. The trees are waving in
Unison because the dead are returning
To us, reborn, in new, perfect forms

(Published by Belfast Fortnight Magazine
February 2004
copyright where stated.

Bei Dao -
translated by Wolfgang Kublin

"Wenn es bestimmt ist, dass Ufer sich erheben,
So lass die Menschheit ihrer Existenz neu einen Gipfel waehlen
Es ist der Schnittpunkt der Zeit und blitzende Sterne
Verschoenen gerade den unblokierten Himmel,
Es sind fuenftausend Jahre alte Pictogramme,
Es sind die Gestalt gewordenen Blicke kuenftiger Generationen."
Bei Dao (aka Zhao Zhenkai) born in Beijing in 1949
Translated by Wolfgang Kubin, in "Nachrichten von der Hauptstadt der Sonne - moderne Chinesische Lyrik 1919-1984

as recommended by singer-songwriter Brett Anderson on his website, this is Crows by Ted Hughes.

A poem by Nicolaus Lenau
in German
Zweierlei Voegel
Strichvoegel Reflexion
Zugvoegel Poesie
Singt jeder andern Ton
Und andre Melodie
Nicolaus Lenau (Austro-Hungarian Poet, Published by Cotta, a book that I borrowed from my neighbour Walter Seggi, who is a historian specialised in ancient history (Dalriada and co) and owner of 7000 books and only 25 years old in 2003)

Le Corbeau et Le Renard written by Jean de La Fontaine (French)

Mogg Williams writes: "The working population and authority seems to care little for the unemployed. This poem reflects their anguish, their innocence, and their pain":

We are the nameless ones
Bargain basements, Tebbit's bikers,
Painters and hold in the shoe hikers.
We are down and out,
Scroungers and layabouts,
-Often talked about.
Lines on social security graphs,
Percentages, numbers and points,
Means-test applicants,
Redundancies -McGregorized boyes.
We are statistics, the unemployed,
Beggars, overmanned misfits,
Rejects and lazy buggers,
Suicides, death grants,
Yops, volunteers for social schemes,
Psychological oddities,
Benefit books, production outcast,
Political pregnancies,
Supplements, question marks,
Orphaned ejaculations
Fourth World candidates
And millions of pound notes paid weekly.
But once, a century ago it now seems,
We were known as people.

>Mogg Williams - Poems available:
14, Suffolk Place,
Ogmore Vale nr. Bridgend,
Mid Glam.
CF32 7DS
United Kingdom

"When people from many different background care enough to support the lonely and isolated craft of poetry, then art itself is safe from the uncaring attitudes it is often subjected to,"

Reggie and Neon take the mail. This isn't a return to the Desk Railway. We return in 2009. Poem (C) W.H. Auden - video by: TurboJUK

Matičce (to Mother) by Jan Neruda
(Czech poet)
Proto mně draha tak

milá má matička,
že je tak malička,
že je tak chudička.

A kdyby byla snad
chudší než oblázek,
přec bych ji v srdci svém
choval co obrázek.

A kdyby byla snad
svázána v uzlíčku,
přec bych ji miloval
tu drahou matičku.

A poem by Michael Stavaric, from the collection
tagwerk ungelenk (red and guilty) (2002)

Eigentlich sitze ich gegenüber unter deinem Fenster.
Du möchtest fliegen lernen und dir selbst genügen.
Ich werde der Nachwelt darüber Bericht erstatten.
Wie du den Gedanken gefasst hast
während einer morgendlichen Matinee.
Als ich noch bei dir sass und Tee trank.
Als ich noch sprach und meine Worte dich erreichten
und du meintest: ich könne dich inspirieren.


Over the Bridges you can hear Callas sing

the award winning poem Three (runner-up to the Dun Laghoire Feile Filachta European Poetry festival 2002 is going to be featured here soon. Congratulations!

Simon Armitage performing poetry at the 2007 Latitude Festival near Southwold.

This is a visual based on "Stealing", a poem by Carol Ann Duffy, poet laureate of the United Kingdom.

Comments by LAFP Productions:
**UPDATE** 12/11/08

Stealing by LAFP Productions has won a Largs Academy Oscar for best picture... OMFG! :O
The Poem ---

The most unusual thing I ever stole? A snowman.Midnight. He looked magnificent; a tall, white mutebeneath the winter moon. I wanted him, a mate with a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain. I started with the head.

Better off dead than giving in, not takingwhat you want. He weighed a ton; his torso,frozen stiff, hugged to my chest, a fierce chill piercing my gut. Part of the thrill was knowingthat children would cry in the morning. Life's tough.

Sometimes I steal things I don't need. I joy-ride cars to nowhere, break into houses just to have a look.I'm a mucky ghost, leave a mess, maybe pinch a camera.I watch my gloved hand twisting the doorknob.A stranger's bedroom. Mirrors. I sigh like this - Aah.It took some time. Reassembled in the yard,he didn't look the same. I took a run and booted him. Again. Again. My breath ripped outin rags. It seems daft now. Then I was standing alone among lumps of snow, sick of the world.

Boredom. Mostly I'm so bored I could eat myself.One time, I stole a guitar and thought I might learn to play. I nicked a bust of Shakespeare once,flogged it, but the snowman was the strangest.You don't understand a word I'm saying, do you?

Credits Actor - Stuart Howie
Editor - Ciaran Doughty
Director - Gerrard Docherty
Assi/nt Director - Ryan Leckie
Assi/nt Cameraman - Steven Inch
Cameraman - Stuart Burns
Category: Film & Animation

"Too late to start a new career. People tend to put you in a pigeon hole.
- You can alway fly out of it," she(a lady reporter from Radio Times), laughed "It's never too late."

When she'd gone her words stayed with me. I think she was right. It's never too late.
Just because you've made your bed, you don't have to lie in it - you can get out and remake it.
A lot of maxims are lies, or at any rate misleading:
Watched kettles do boil,
And rolling stones can gather moss.
The man who cannot change his mind is in danger of losing it altogether.
There is not only one second chance, there are thousands of second chances, Just as long as we wonder at the sunset, the numberless stars in the heavens and the glory of a new day."

Kenneth Williams - "Just Williams - An autobiography" 1985

Xavier Naidoo and Rilke Project: Die Dinge singen hör ich so Gern

Andaluces de Jaen by Miguel Hernandez
Spanish poet

Andaluces de Jaen,
aceituneros altivos,
decidme en el alma:
Quien, quien levanto los olivos?
No los levanto la nada,
ni el dinero, ni el señor,
sino la tierra callada,
el trabajo y el sudor.

Unidos al agua pura
y a los planetas unidos,
los tres dieron la hermosura
de los troncos retorcidos.
Levantate, olivo cano,
dijeron al pie del viento.
Y el olivo alzo una mano
poderosa de cimiento.

Andaluces de Jaen, aceituneros
altivos, decidme en el alma:
Quien, amamanto los olivos?
Vuestra sangre, vuestra vida,
no la del explotador
que se enriquecio en la herida
generosa del sudor.
No la del terrateniente
que os sepulto en la pobreza,
que os pisoteo la frente,
que os redujo la cabeza.
Arboles que vuestro afan
consagro al centro del día
eran principio de un pan
que solo el otro comía.

Cuantos siglos de aceituna,
los pies y las manos presos,
sol a sol y luna a luna,
pesan sobre vuestros huesos!
Andaluces de Jaen, aceituneros
altivos, pregunta mi alma:
de quién, de quién son estos olivos?
Jaen, levantate brava
sobre tus piedras lunares,
no vayas a ser esclava
con todos tus olivares.
Dentro de la claridad del aceite
y sus aromas, indican tu libertad
la libertad de tus lomas.

Caislan Oir
written by Clannad in Irish

Thart orainn
Reált geal san oíche
Tá'n fharraige ciúin
Agus suaimhneas sa ghaoth
An fharraige chiúin
Ina codladh sa ghaoth

Thíos sa ghleann an ghleann an cheo
Riocht na gréine i gCaisleán Óir
Tá'n fharraige ciúin agus suaimhneas sa ghaoth
An fharraige chiúin ina codladh sa ghaoth

Driocht a mheall na daoine roinn
Soilse geala i gCaisleán Óir
Tá'n fharraige ciúin agus suaimhneas sa ghaoth
An fharraige chiúin ina codladh sa ghaoth

Non, L'amour n'est pas mort
Robert Desnos (in French)

Non, l'amour n'est pas mort en ce coeur
et ces yeux et cette bouche qui
proclamait ses funérailles commencées.
Écoutez, j'en ai assez du pittoresque
et des couleurs et du charme.
J'aime l'amour, sa tendresse et sa cruauté.
Mon amour n'a qu'un seul nom,
qu'une seule forme...
Robert Desnos