Identifying the Importance of Sound: the Grain of the Voice in Slam Poetry
Voorn, I.S. van der
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This thesis analyses the importance of sound to slam poetry by paying attention to the element of sound in voice through Roland Barthes’ “Grain of the Voice”. It discusses the text and sound of two poems by two slam poets, “My Father’s Coat” by Marc Kelly Smith and “Somebody Blew Up America” by Amiri Baraka. Both analyses are split up in a close reading and a close listening which expands upon the interpretation of the close reading. Both analyses agree on close listening adding to close reading and “the Grain of the Voice” showing the importance of sound in slam poetry, though both poems show different ways in which this turns out to be important. “My Father’s Coat” demonstrates that “the Grain of the Voice” helps in understanding the limitations and connections between the poet, the speaker, the subject and the addressee in a poem and that this changes between the close reading and close listening. “Somebody Blew Up America” shows that the poet can change and expand the meaning of a poem in the close listening by adding and repeating words and stanzas in a different “Grain of Voice” that utilizes the potential of sound and deepens and complicates the perspective of a poem.