A lot of the impulse to record so many poems stemmed from a star-crossed love. For quite a while I was absolutely infatuated with a man, in a way that was much more intense than I liked. Especially given that it was unrequited, alas!
Part of the the reason I put these poems up here is, as I've said, vanity, but also because there was no mechanism at Librivox to submit an on-going work. There is always a project you can submit a few poems to, but I was recording so many that I would have had to start my own projects--which is no problem, they love it! But they don't work in an open-ended manner. While this site could use the editorial support embedded in Librivox, (oh, for a proof-listener!) it does satisfy the reading poetry aloud itch I was having.
I should admit that I'm not actually a big poetry fan. I admire poetry, and I'll occasionally find a poem that is absolutely riveting, apropos, and spot-on. But I really like contributing something back to the universe more than I like poetry. Poetry is mostly just convenient in length, and has at it's essence a similar impulse to contribute something back to the universe. But I don't read poetry for entertainment.
What I have learned over the course of this project:
- Read slower. I have experimented with various degrees of preparation for creating the audio poems, but when I go back and listen, the ones I like hearing better are generally slower, regardless of the amount of prep work I did.
- Make room for abundance. This is a trivial point, really. Down in the back-end of the production I wanted a number in the name of the file so I could easily tell how many I had accomplished. You guys may never see those file names! But I didn't think very far ahead. Leading zeros are used to allow the alpabetical sorting of files (such as in a folder or directory listing) mirror the numerical order. Otherwise 1, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 2, 20, 21 is the sort of thing that shows up. I was smart enough to start with 01, 02, but let me tell you this: if you make more than 10 you just might be the sort of person to make more than 100. I did stop and re-number everything with another leading zero. I'm a long way yet from 1000, (I just finished the prep for number 450, which will be released at the end of Feb, 2010) but I can feel it creeping up on me. While I'm certain I'm not going to re-number again (and fix all the links, and so on, and so forth) I do wish I had left more room with a couple more leading zeros. Sure, I'll probably never get 10,000, or even 100,000 (my god!) audio poems published, and it's crazy to worry about crap like this, but oh well, that's me.
- Relax. My normal speaking voice is a little lower than my normal recording voice. I've recently (Jan 2010) begun trying to emulate that in my recordings, because I listened back at a couple of poems and not only were they higher-pitched than I liked, my voice even got (musically) sharp a few times, and let me tell you that grated! I have a bit of a disadvantage because the quasi-stage-fright constriction of the body and the voice naturally drops off after about five minutes for me--but many many poems are under two minutes.
- When inspiration fails, rely on someone else's. There are a lot of good poems. A whole lot of them. Some of them, at a quick read, I like, and I'll record. A lot of them don't really grab me. But after I'd search and sifted and meandered my way through a couple hundred poems, I kept coming across poems which I had already recorded. Now, I did make a repeat in my first 50 poems, but I'm not a big fan of redundancy. I'm tired now of browsing through poems for one I like, and I've switched to letting editors of the past dictate my efforts. First I did a collection of Sara Teasdale, now I'm working my way through Palgrave's Golden Treasury, and who knows what I'll get up to after that. Palgrave's will create a bit of redundancy, as I've probably already recorded more than 20 poems from it. But I'm so relieved to have the burden of choice removed that I'm totally going to get over it. :)
Many thanks to archive.org, which hosts the mp3 files for my podcast, and Google for feedburner and blogger.com. I'm also a fan of statcounter.com, which is there to let me know that about 75% of the traffic to my site goes right back where it came from in less than 5 seconds, never to return. It'll also make a cool map of them for me!