Literal Poet Voice
June 11, 2016 1:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of poets with distinctive voices. I mean their literal auditory voices. So that I can develop impersonations of them.

I do pretty good impersonations and I'd like to expand my repertoire of poets for reasons even I am not quite clear on.

The only good examples I have are Charles Bukowski (a pretty ideal example) and Seamus Heaney. Who else has a very distinctive speech pattern, accent, poetic voice (as in style), etc.?
posted by cmoj to Writing & Language (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
T.S. Eliot
Wallace Stevens
Alan Ginsberg
Frank O'Hara

Most poets reading are intrinsically interesting and unusual.
posted by chavenet at 1:32 PM on June 11, 2016

I always thought that Richard Brautigan had a very distinctive style. You can hear him reading some of his own poetry in a few different recordings which you can find chunks of on YouTube.
posted by jessamyn at 1:34 PM on June 11, 2016

Maya Angelou

One cannot listen to Maya Angelou without knowing that it is her.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ezra Pound. Jack Kerouac.
posted by synecdoche at 1:54 PM on June 11, 2016

Gil Scott Heron
posted by juv3nal at 1:56 PM on June 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

..Does spoken word count? Like Saul Williams? or Anis Mojgani?
posted by speakeasy at 2:03 PM on June 11, 2016

My grad school friends and I used to occasionally do impressions of Sylvia Plath.
posted by babelfish at 2:30 PM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dylan Thomas
posted by thomas j wise at 2:37 PM on June 11, 2016

John Cooper Clarke, the Bard of Salford
posted by runincircles at 2:46 PM on June 11, 2016

Benjamin Zephaniah
posted by essexjan at 2:48 PM on June 11, 2016

Edith Sitwell
posted by Ideefixe at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2016

In John Gardner's novel October Light, one of the characters does an imitation of Robert Frost:
"Exactly," Mr Hernandez said happily, "or these wonderful tight-mouthed New Englanders." He flattened his voice and pitched it somewhat higher, mimicking Robert Frost: "Wheah had ey heahd the wind befoah / Change like this to a deepah roah?" He laughed, delighted at his own performance. "It's a language I'd hate to see die," he said.
If you want to add Frost to your repertoire, there are plenty of recordings out there, and you can even compare early Frost with late Frost to hear how his accent thickened as he grew older.
posted by verstegan at 3:15 PM on June 11, 2016

Oh God, Al Purdy for sure. He's very satisfying to imitate and he was a terrific poet, too.

At The Quinte Hotel
On Being Human
Necropsy of Love

Trailer for the documentary Al Purdy Was Here, in which you can see archival footage of the man himself.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2016

Dorothy Parker
or, if you want to go cheesy, Rod McKuen (please do an imitation of him!)
posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2016

Irving Layton
posted by 256 at 5:13 PM on June 11, 2016

Seconding Gil Scott-Heron. Also, there is a good full reading of Ginsberg doing Howl out on the internet. I'll see if I can find the site, they had a ton of other readings, IIRC.
posted by lkc at 5:46 PM on June 11, 2016

First reading of Howl

Not the one I was thinking of, but outside of the famous opening line, I think a lot of younger folks don't know what he signed like or what it's about.
posted by lkc at 5:54 PM on June 11, 2016

Mostly known as a singer, but I consider this a poem: Tom Waits - What's He Building in There?"
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:31 PM on June 11, 2016

William Carlos Williams has a pretty distinctive east coast nasal inflection which, when combined with the semi-staccato prosodic meter of much of his work, makes it fairly easy to imitate/parody.
posted by Chrischris at 6:54 PM on June 11, 2016

Shel Silverstein.
posted by chantenay at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2016

Yusuf Komunyakaa ("Ode to the Maggot" is one of my favorites)
posted by karayel at 7:26 PM on June 11, 2016

Paul Durcan of course.
posted by little eiffel at 9:27 PM on June 11, 2016

John Berryman seems like he should be imitable.
posted by misteraitch at 1:17 AM on June 12, 2016

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