Seen or Silent (1)

Many a poem has sounded grand for its few moments on air, only to disappoint on the page, stripped of its theatrics. While a rousing performance can bring a poem to life, it is never a substitute for good writing. In this sense, at least, treating the printed poem as “some kind of gold standard” (or so Performance poets grumble) does have merit. A poem written well enough in print to dance in the inner ear is also likely to succeed aloud. Conversely, if it has serious flaws, histrionics may disguise them, as a quick coat of paint does rust, but what happens once the voice is silent? Any poem should resonate first on its own.