Friday, November 11, 2005

The voice of the poet ...

Yesterday afternoon I took a cab out to Penn Bookstore to hear poet Daniel Hoffman read from his new book, Makes You Stop and Think: Sonnets, which I reviewed last Sunday. It proved to be a wonderful experience.
Many poets, especially American poets, do not read their work well at all, either for lack of a resonant voice or an effective reading technique, or both. Hoffman has no problem on either score. Hearing him read poems I had become pretty familar with actually enhanced my understanding and appreciation of them. Humor, drama, sentiment -- Hoffman's reading brought it all out.
One poem that he read, a longish poem whose title escapes me, which will be included in his next collection, is especially worth mentioning. It's about a fellow in rural Maine who gets his own back from the tax man. It's quite, quite funny. Hoffman said it should be read with Maine accent, which he declined to attempt (though the Maine inflections could be sensed as read). The late Marshall Dodge could have done wonders with this poem, which would make great movie. A poem made in to a movie? Well, why not? Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman" was made into a movie, and so was his "Dick Turpin's Ride." Dan, call your agent.

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