As part of my work to excavate, digitize, and contextualize one of the first poetry audio archives in US, The Speech Lab Recordings, I’m thrilled to announce a significant addition to the collection: new digitizations of previously unreleased Robert Frost recordings, made in the Speech Lab in 1933 and 1934.
These recordings, which may be the first recordings ever made of Frost, in one sense mark a departure from the aesthetic circumscription of the collection. Many of the poets who were recorded in professors W. Cabell Greet and George W. Hibbitt’s Columbia University lab built for the study of American dialects operated in a modernist tradition of formal innovation.
What if you could identify the applause in every recording in the PennSound archive? With that information, you might ask who receives the most applause, which poems by a given author are most likely to spur an audience response, and which venues lend themselves to the warmest reception. In the following we present our initial work toward using machine learning to answer just such questions.
The poetry phonotext is at least as old as the earliest mechanical reproductions of sound. In 1860, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville’s attempts to capture the human voice with his phonautograph – a machine meant to record sounds visually, yet not to play them back – offer up two instances of poetic recitation: the first – “Au clair de la lune / mon ami Pierrot / prête moi—” – from the French folk song, “Au Clair de la Lune;” and the second – “S’il faut qu’à ce rival Hédelmone infidèle / Ait remis ce bandeau! Dans leur rage cruelle / Nos l
In the 2009 essay "Hearing Voices," Charles Bernstein writes that “a poet’s reading of her or his own work has an entirely different authority" from that of other readers. Bernstein assures his readers that his assertion is not "just another way of fetishizing the author and the author's voice" but rather a way of acknowledging that "the archive of recordings, as well as the live performance, of contemporary poems is almost exclusively composed of poets giving voice to their own work" (142).