Listen to Bayou / Poetry

Echoes for National Poetry Month – Portia Elan & K. Jane Childs

Echoes is a digital reading series that will run throughout National Poetry Month, featuring writers from around the country reciting their favorite poems, along with a recording of the poet themselves reading their work aloud. In his essay The Aural Ellipsis and the Nature of Listening in Contemporary Poetry, Nick Piombino states that “the complex nature of the relationship between thinking and listening is at the heart of the experience of listening to poetry“. Certainly, sound is a central concern for poets, and how a poem is spoken, how it is articulated, can subtly shift its meaning and interpretation. We are excited to share these different interpretations with you, and hope you’ll enjoy the series!

This week, K. Jane Childs reads Portia Elan‘s poem “How No Song Can Bring The Spirit Back Unless The Singer Has Faith And Does Not Turn Around”, originally published in Cloud Rodeo.

“Portia Elan is a poet that I deeply admire. The kind of poet who can integrate the lyrical “I” into a perfectly wrought affective language machine like this poem. The first time I read through “How No Song…” on the Cloud Rodeo website, I immediately found myself slowing down, then reading it a second time. You can get a lot of the magic just reading through it several times with your eyes, but the reason I picked this poem is that the experience of reading it aloud is truly transformative. I was a theatre kid, theatre major in college, and like all theatre kids I spent a lot of time shopping around for monologues for auditions, language that contained the potential to showcase emotive vocal range.

In “How No Song”, there are these beautiful repeating prepositional phrases, that build the affective resonance of that rebellious, conflicted, nostalgic lyrical “I” so that reading it aloud is like ringing a bell while inside it. The melancholy undercurrent of the lost jumpers, the identification with all the players of a drama that has already unfolded– all the ways the words make meaning are also precise, incisive, and yet still evoke a broken vulnerability. But, as a poet, it’s the way all of that is supported by the ringing of that structural bell as you read it that really leaves me flushed and wrung out, in the best possible way, after reading it. Cheers, Portia.”

Listen to K. Jane Childs read “How No Song…”

K. Jane Childs is a poet and erstwhile fictioneer living in Charleston, South Carolina. Her work has appeared in Revolution House, DREGINALD, and Pentimento Journal, among others. Additional pastimes and callings include: sauteeing greens, attempting romantic interpretations of post-avant poetry, drinking whiskey sours with her life mate, and reading for [PANK]. @kjanechilds

Listen to the author of “How No Song…”, Portia Elan, read her word:

Portia Elan lives & writes on the West Coast, where she also works with high school students. Her work has appeared in Sonora Review, Ninth Letter, Birdfeast, and other journals. More of Portia’s work can be found at Her Gemini cat purred through the recording of this poem.

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