Friday, April 08, 2005


When I sit at the desk at work I often listen to CDs. At Amoeba on Telegraph they have racks full of clearance CDs -- every 4th one free! -- and I stock up on sampler CDs for a dollar or two apiece. As I listen I mark songs I like, then listen to the marked songs once or twice more and decide whether I want to add them to the permanent collection. If it's yes I bring the CD home and transfer those songs to the Mac. Gradually I burn the music onto mix CDs.

This is rather similar actually to the way I go through books of poetry. As I read I keep handy a stack of bookmarks. If I want to reread a poem, in goes a bookmark. After I finish the book I reread the marked poems 3 to 8 times. If I decide I don't want to leave the poem behind, I copy it into a notebook.

Technology has at last made it easier to copy songs than copy poems.

But I get tired of evaluating. Especially with a CD by one artist I will put aside whether-I-like-it and just listen. But then these are artists I know, pretty much, even if I don't know the particular album; whereas with the sampler CDs I'm often hearing music by artists totally unfamiliar to me. The odds aren't as good they'll be what-I-like.

Then there are the times my ears get tired. And I put the sound away. This happens reading, too. And reading poems especially. Because poems are rich and thick and require savoring. Sometimes I'll just read one or two poems before putting the book down.

I brought home a new anthology of poems that comes with a CD of songs. The book, Isn't It Romantic? collects "love poems" by poets of my generation (me b. 1965, the poets included born between 1959 and 1976). I listened to the CD at my desk and like these three songs: "I'm gonna watch you sleep" by Hamell on Trial and "The Ocean Cliff Clearing" by Richard Buckner and "She is my diary" by Ray's Vast Basement. I'm not familiar with the musicians. Of the anthology's poets I recognize several names: Peter Gizzi, Anselm Berrigan, Lisa Jarnot, Katy Lederer, etc. ... I've just flipped around and looked at lines so I don't know what I think about the poems yet. Find out in a few years on Dare I Read? ...

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