Elaborate Versionings: Characteristics of Emergent Performance in Three Print/Oral/ Aural Poets
By Kenneth Sherwood
Literary studies regards the “poetry reading” as a marginal phenomenon. By resituating the published poems of Amiri Baraka, Kamau Brathwaite, and Cecilia Vicuña in performance contexts, this essay proposes that each reading has the dimensions of an emergent performance, with distinguishable oral dynamics. The poet-performers break through into performativity by means of elaboration and versioning. This dynamic activity practice presents a challenge to the dominant practices of literary criticism and the scholarship of print texts.