As deeply as I feel the charge from hearing a coyote call close by or catching the wood-and-water chuckle of wild turkeys, as fully as wind flittering through cottonwood leaves inspires me to listen and to breathe, I appreciate the sing-sound of the well-turned human tongue.
Sometimes, in lonely canyons, when there’s no one else there, I’ve heard noises my ear interprets as half-words and singing threading around stone bends like odors rising off home cooking. While intriguing and beautiful, these voices confuse the human ear, which is always hoping for sounds or phrases of address, the touch of deep-reaching words.
As I’ve said elsewhere, people need to feel that touch of fine language but out of need often settle for less, trying, sometimes desperately, to make more of poor speech than is actually there. We strive, like Rapunzel, to spin gold from straw. Even when by illusion we half-succeed, we often pay for it by loss of relation. Human language is beautiful when it rises out of wellsprings of feeling for others, when people speak in such a way as to make it possible for others to hear. My experience is that animals can also come to rely on the human voice, similarly hoping to feel its strong effects.
Much of our language is a wasteland of discordant sound and unreaching yet grasping words. For the rest of the month on WIZ, I hope to post links to poets and others reading or singing their work, good stuff that sits nicely in the ear. If I’m lucky, we’ll get up some podcasts, including of me reading. Anybody visiting WIZ who thinks he or she might have something suitable for broadcast, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To start, you can go here (link) to hear Leslie Norris read his poem “Water.” When you reach the link, click on “Listen to Leslie Norris reading ‘Water'”.
[Edited 12/21/13 to weed out odd formatting symbols introduced by a WIZ update done a few years ago.]