Poetry: an aural art?

Poetry is the language of the soul. A poet, when penning a poem, does not only put down a thought, but their immediate thought, the thought that’s running in their head at that exact instant. It’s one of the truest forms of human expression and has roots as old as language itself. The earliest form of poetry was oral, with people singing and humming lyrical compositions. It was at times accompanied by almost theatrical performances with movements of the hand and tone of speaking which made for a memorable sensory experience and more often than not contained messages to be passed on to the next generation. Over the years, different schools of poetry evolved as language flourished and with the advent of printing, it became increasingly a written form of composition. There has been a shift in modern years as poetry has morphed into a shorter, more poignant art. Modern poetry has become popular through the medium of social networks, with poets like Rupi Kaur, Christopher Poindexter and Charles Bukowski leading the way into the new era.There is no one way to absorb poetry, with each reader holding a preference for a medium. Some like to read it aloud, whilst some find quiet, passive reading more emotive. Some may find a revelatory moment of understanding when they listen to a piece even after having sight-read it before. It may also work the other way around, where you find greater clarity in the written word. With multiple forms of media for spoken word, such as podcasts and recorded recitals, available a tap away through the internet, this form of recital by the poets themselves has also found an ardent audience. Listening to audio-based poetry is no longer a luxury, now simply an add-on to the whole experience. Human voice to written word decidedly adds a dimension of depth to poems. In Auden’s words, "no poem, which when mastered, is not better heard than read is good poetry." This sentiment rings true with many readers who tend to read aloud as verse becomes inseparable from the auditory experience. When you recite a poem yourself, you take into account its ups and downs, appreciate the pauses, the commas and change of lines - all becoming more meaningful. Every phrase becomes an emotion in itself and you become intimate with the sentiments of the poet. Such a connection feels all the more impactful if you do it in conjunction with reading it, as you can peruse the written word, reiterating your best-loved lines. Most poetry is filled with imagery which comes alive when you’re reading it. I remember participating in “write and recite” poetry competitions which taught me that this literary art form does not have a strictly singular mode of delivery and can be purely aural or a mix of aural and sight-reading experience.Even as all poetry enthusiasts tend to find a preference of mode early on, if they are flexible enough, they would surely appreciate all manifestations of this soulful literary art. If you wish to experience this dual experience yourself, check out Josephine Hart Poetry Hour for beautiful recitations of famous poetry done by familiar faces.