Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Soundtrack of Our Lives
Alright, maybe it does look a little strange to be embraced by the page - but in a good way. The following is a quote by Ed Byrne, founding editor of the Valparaiso Poetry Review. Diane Lockward interviews him this week on her blog and I'm taken with how this applies to all good writing, not only poetry. I'm in the first week of Spring Quarter and I so want to instill in my students a passion for writing, an understanding that communication with others takes a certain kind of attentiveness. Thank you Ed for making my inchoate idea come alive. Here's Ed:
"If there were an aspect of my writing that I find myself enjoying the most, the musicality of the work would be a primary candidate. As you indicate, I like to employ various devices that more subtly assimilate sound as a central element: internal rhyme, near rhyme, alliteration, assonance, or consonance. I enjoy adding onomatopoeic words as well. At times, I even playfully place words that are anagrams within lines of poems just for the ways they resemble one another in the reader’s eye and maybe the reader’s ear (i.e., “form” and “from,” “trace” and “crate,” or “grown” and “wrong”).
I’m also aware of purposely trying to have the speaker’s voice group similar sounding words or phrases and use vowels or consonants that imitate the tone of the content in the poem, perhaps contemplative or combative—whether with soothing softer sounds or the introduction of harder and harsher notes. Again thinking cinematically, I compare such an aural motif to soundtrack music that echoes the mood in a movie.
I regularly remind my students that writers must love words for their denotative meanings and connotative suggestions, as well as for their historic or cultural associations. I know I do. Moreover, they should be prepared to exploit the musicality of the language, appealing to the ear as well as the eye. If our selections are accurate and effective, each facet of the perfect word in any line of writing could contribute to the overall goal of evoking emotional and intellectual responses from readers."