Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Classic Poetry Websites

Below are a selection of four websites filled with resources for the rhapsode. The accuracy of much classic poetry published in the web is not always high, but these sites are quite dependable. All but Bartelby contain a good deal on poetry and poets as well.

Poetry Out Loud

Official site of NEA Poetry Out Loud Project. Check upper right hand red column for POEMS

Poetry Foundation

A wealth of resources. Click Poetry Tool under Resources in the top menu bar. Then click Poems or Poets and see what interests you.

Another massive database of poetry. Click Poets and Poems at the upper far right column. Also poems by occasion.

Poetry Collections at

An overwhelmingly abundant collection of public domain verse anthologies and individual poet collections.

You will also enjoy visiting:

Favorite Poem Project

The Favorite Poem Project was created by Robert Pinsky when he was U.S. Poet Laureate. A tireless advocate for poetry, especially poetry performed aloud, Pinsky edited four anthologies of poems for reading aloud: An Invitation to Poetry, Poems to Read, Americans' Favorite Poems, and Essential Pleasures.

The Favorite Poem Project Website features video of U.S. citizens from all walks of life reading their favorite poem aloud and telling why it is so important to them. This is a great inspiration to aspiring rhapsodes.

All Things Rhapsodic

Welcome to Eclectic Rhapsodics, a web log of rhapsodes, rhasodies, and all things rhapsodic. It is the initial and official voice of the Rhapsode Project.

In ancient Greece, rhapsodes (also called rhapsodists) performed the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, sacred classics to that society. My purpose is to revive the role of the rhapsode in contemporary society by performing the great classics of English language poetry and encouraging others to do the same by training rhapsodes, organizing troupes of rhapsodes, producing rhapsodic events (rhapsodies), and in general creating and supporting the performance of classic poetry throughout the English speaking world.

Rhapsodes perform classic poetry. Poetry in the public domain – poetry from the early part of the twentieth century and before – often remains silently sequestered in the pages of anthologies and collections stored on bookshelves. The role of the rhapsode is to bring these vibrant, sensuous, musical, and philosophical treasures to life vocally and bodily. One way I see poems is as plays in that as the written play waits to be produced, so many great literary poems wait to be performed - voiced and embodied by rhapsodes. As many poets and teachers of poetry agree, poems best reach their full potential as musical, emotional, intellectual texts of influence when they are spoken aloud.

Rhapsodes were “song-stitchers” in that they would “stitch” together passages from the longer epics of Homer and Hesiod and improvise their own words in between them. In general terms, a rhapsody is an ecstatic expression of feeling and enthusiasm. In music, a rhapsody is an instrumental composition irregular in form and suggestive of improvisation. These meanings derive from the practice of rhapsodes creating their performances from an eclectic collection of poetic passages of their great national poets and adding their own introductions, transitions, and commentary.

I seek to rhapsodize. I seek to discover, encourage, and educate rhapsodes. I seek to popularize the art of rhapsodizing, trusting that audiences for poetic rhapsodies will grow as more and better rhapsodizing circulates throughout the English speaking world.

I seek effective venues for rhapsodies. For live rhapsodies, the most obvious venues are theatres, libraries, schools, bookstores, museums, coffeehouses, and community centers, but any empty space with room for an audience will do. Recorded rhapsodies can be dispersed over the internet via podcasts, YouTube, blogs, and websites.

My arena is the theatre and communication. My training is in acting and speech for the stage: teaching, performing and directing the works of Shakespeare and other poets and playwrights of musical and heightened language. I bring a theatre practitioner’s practical sensibilities to the performance of poetry. As it is necessary to make the plays of Shakespeare and other classics intelligible, relevant, and exciting to contemporary theatre audiences, so it is vital for rhapsodes to do the same for classic poetry. Audiences of the present day are often blocked from entering into the beauty of classic poetry because they live in an era far removed historically and culturally from that in which the poetry originated. They likewise are impeded from simply deciphering classic poetry because of its archaic vocabulary. It is then the duty of rhapsodes to bridge those gaps of history, culture, and vocabulary in their performances, for by doing so, they can succeed in vastly enriching the lives of their audiences with the wealth of their poetic heritage.

The Vocabulary of Rhapsodics
Rhapsode – a performer of classic poetry. (also rhapsodist)
Rhapsody – a performance of classic poetry.
Rhapsodics – 1. the activity of rhapsodes 2. The theoretical commentary on rhapsodes and rhapsodies.

The art, role, and duty of the rhapsode:
The rhapsode serves poets, poetry, and audience as the actor serves playwrights, theatre and audience.
The rhapsode voices the music in the language of the poem.
The rhapsode enacts the drama of the poem.
The rhapsode tells the story of the poem.
The rhapsode paints the images of the poem.
The rhapsode embodies the poet and the poem.
The rhapsode lives the life of the poem.

Rhapsodies in the Works

A Poetic Rhapsody with Bob Gonzalez
followed by a Favorite Poem Event
Wednesday, August 11 at 7pm
Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library
249 Frank Allen Rd
Cashiers, North Carolina 28717

Reverberance: A Poetic Rhapsody
featuring Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode and guest rhapsodes, including Victoria Williams, Aileen Suseck, Patricia Yeazell, Colleen Cherry, and Griffeth Whitehurst.
Friday and Saturday, September 24 & 25 at 8pm in the Edison Building, corner North B. & Boulevard.

Reverberance: A Poetic Rhapsody
featuring Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode and guest rhapsodes, including Victoria Williams, Dahlia Legault, Nicole Smith, Gianna Russo, Aileen Suseck, Patricia Yeazell, Colleen Cherry, and Griffeth Whitehurst.
Mondays and Tuesdays, October 4, 5, 11, & 12 at the Gorilla Theatre

Calling All Rhapsodes and Audiences!
Look here at Eclectic Rhapsodics regularly for news of rhapsodies, the forming of rhapsode troupes, performance opportunities, friendly venues, liaisons with other rhapsodes, advice on rhapsodizing and growing as a rhapsode, helpful related websites, and all things rhapsodic!