On April 15th I attended the last session of Poets Out Loud for the spring semester at Fordham. This very special reading included poets from the program Girls Write Now, which were mentees in the Poets out Loud outreach program. Along with these young and talented writers, poet Ann Waldman joined to read to the audience a few of her poems.
It was a great pleasure to witness a session that brought together young, new poets with a seasoned and legendary poet such as Ann Waldman. Waldman was described at the event as a legendary poet, member of the “Outrider” experimental poetry movement. Since I am not very familiar with poetry, it was an exciting chance to see Waldman not only recite but also perform.
Poetry as performance was seen very explicitly at the event. The two talented young girls that opened the event not only recited the words on the page, but also poured their emotions into it by the way they gestured, enunciated and projected their words. I thought that Poets Out Loud made a great gesture to these young girls by allowing them to perform before a legendary poet, and to hear Waldman’s praise of their talent was wonderful. I loved the poem ‘Ms. Soul’ by one of the students, her words as well as her performance were refined and calculated.
Experiencing Waldman’s poetry through performance is truly different than reading her poetry myself. Professor Dubrow explained prior to Ann Waldman’s reading to listen carefully to her rhythms and the way she uses chants -- influenced by her practice of Buddhism. She used chanting, and raised and lowered her voice many times, making the direction of her poetry seem unpredictable. Waldman’s performance of her poems were striking, and the way she spoke with such intensity made her words frightening at times.