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This report is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.

Bravo PBS! Carole Taylor

Recent advances in the psychology of perception linking language patterns with neurological processes offer us (and by us I mean readers, listeners, and interpreters of the arts) a more concrete understanding of the communication process. Notably, John Grinder and Richard Bandler identified and linked patterns of behaviour and language common to us all: concurrently we each present (in behaviour) and re-present (in language) a unique personal model of reality to the world, in hopes we will be understood.

In the field of musicological thought a comparable development is evolving. Narrative does not reside in the music but in a plot imagined and constructed by the listener. The composer does not 'speak' to us on a linguistic level, but on a behavioural one: Carolyn Abbate and Jean-Jacques Nattiez suggest we hear the sound of narrative 'but we do not know exactly what the voices are talking about'.

What can we say about the power of speech in contemporary poetry? Opinion varies among poets as to the value of poetry live, but most listeners would agree, I think, that poetry does gain by being heard. At the Poetry Book Society International Day we had a unique chance to experience poetry live all day long. With Kit Wright, Liz Lochhead, Derek Walcott and Joseph Brodsky the variety of performances was considerable - enough so to try and pursue this issue of communication a bit further.

Kit Wright opened the Day with a breakfast reading, compatibly joined ...


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