A performance Art

Our overwhelming exposure to poetry is from the printed page. However, the art of poetry predates the manufacture of paper and writing. The story of Gilgamesh, over 4,500 years old, circulated in oral form for many centuries before someone impressed its words on cuneiform tablets. We know The Iliad and The Odyssey were recited by storytellers from memory, before a conclave of scholars gathered to compare versions and write down a final adaptation.
Poetry in our long and ancient history was performed more than read. I am sure not more than fifteen minutes after language was invented, some one of our long-ago ancestors grunted out the first poem to the delight and amazement of his/her companions. Minstrels and jongleurs or equivalent singers of tales carried on the verbal tradition among populations that could not read. Only recently, have we been limited to printed versions of poetry that lack the rhythm, intonation, and fire of the author. We cannot savor the poem in the way they dreamed it.
So, gather your courage, practice in front of the mirror. Join in a group reading, or go solo at an open mic. Let’s go back to our poetical roots, be missionaries for the craft.

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