POETS ON MUSIC--SHORT ESSAYS The idea for a collection of essays by poets on music came to me one afternoon last summer while, during a question-and-answer period following a lecture, I listened to Bill Matthews talk off the cuff for a quarter of an hour about the last recordings of Billie Holiday. Though the question he'd been asked was about sound in poetry, his answer had moved quite naturally into the realm of music, and what struck me then was that in that realm he seemed suddenly at liberty to discuss (without having to define) that peculiar quality which distinguishes poetry from other kinds of writing. It's what Eliot called "the auditory imagination," and even in his case it was easier to describe than it was to define. And so, in contacting poets to do these essays, what I asked was not that they examine the explicit connections between their own poetry and music, but that they simply write an appreciation of a particular musician, or performance, or genre. It was my hope that the tone of these appreciations might be as revealing about that "auditory imagination" as any more direct form of investigation. --Sherod Santos BILLIE HOLIDAY
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1987
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