Seaton to Talk on Oral Performance of Poetry at Woodstock Library

William Seaton will speak on the history and characteristics of performed poetry at the Woodstock Library Forum, a series sponsored by Friends of the Library, at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17. The library is located at 5 Library Lane in Woodstock. The event will include time for questions and light refreshments.

“Words in the Air: Notes on the Oral Performance of Poetry” traces the ancient history of the artful spoken word as well as describing varieties of poetic performance in modern times. Seaton also comments on such theoretical issues as the influence of language on thought, the difference between a spoken or sung text and a written one, the relation between poetry and prose, and the functional value of verbal art.

Poet, translator, and critic William Seaton has been involved with poetry performance since attending Paul Carroll’s Second City readings in Chicago as a teen-ager. While associated with the Cloud House poets in San Francisco during the 70s he read poetry in the streets and collaborated with Art Goodtimes on “Wordriver” at the Blue Dolphin performance space in San Francisco. He has participated in a wide variety of other artistic and performance events over the last forty years, from “happenings” in the 60s to a reading in October of 2006 in Budapest where a hurdy-gurdy player opened the show.

As a scholar he studied Homer, troubadours and Minnesingers as well as folklore (with blues collector Harry Oster) and oral literature (with artist and classicist Stavros Deligiorgis). He has written learned articles about archaic Greek poets and African-American oral narrative and recently spoke for the Hudson Valley Cultural Society on the effect of literacy on the practice of poetry. He has translated and performed many German dada lyrics and has written on the theory of the avant-garde.