Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reznikoff at UPenn

PennSound, the center for writing at the University of Pennsylvania, has posted the recordings of a reading of the long poem Holocaust by the author, Charles Reznikoff. The reading took place on December 21, 1975, and was recorded by filmmaker Abraham Ravett, whose portraits of the author also appear on the site.

As I listen to these, it immediately strikes me that the poem is far more musical — at least, as Reznikoff performs it — than it is often given credit for being, full of internal rhymes, off-rhymes, and assonance. It reminded me of a medieval history or an epic. In some way though, and unintentionally I suppose, that is exactly what Holocaust is, the renewal of a bardic tradition that traces back to a time of lineages and monarchies: it is the preservation of history in verse form, a witness to our modern era and what was probably the defining event of the twentieth century.

Thanks to Ron Silliman for alerting us of this.

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