Tuesday, April 14, 2020
A post from William J. Harris on birds sparked Amiri Baraka project
On March 23, scholar and poet William J. Harris posted a link to a site on bird sounds. You can go to the site and click on one of fifty different bird species to hear how they sound. I was fascinated by the site.
I then began thinking about what a site like that would mean if I applied it to poetry, specifically Amiri Baraka. For more than a decade now, I have thought about Baraka's wordless phrasings. Back in 2016, I published an entry here entitled "the wonderful wordless phrasings of Amiri Baraka." Maybe, I thought to myself then, one day I could do more. But that was thrown on the big pile of "things to do."
Harris's post, though, sparked my thinking again. But I needed help. Since we've been off because of the coronavirus, I had some time. I reached out to Ben Ostermeier, our IRIS Center technician, and showed him the bird site. I asked if he could figure out how it worked. He replied soon after saying yes. I just needed to provide the materials.
I had been collecting Baraka sounds for several years, so the only task was to narrow things down. I decided on twelve excerpts, and then sent the materials to Ben with some outlines for the look. And here we are: The Wonderful Wordless Phrasings of Amiri Baraka.
• A Notebook on the Wonderful Wordless Phrasings of Amiri Baraka