- Welshman and Muscovite
On his first hearing Dylan Thomas at the Y,poetry seemed to be soaringinto an Empyrean ofthe airwaves,as if a realm beyond human senses had shifted—giving accessto human ears. The very processof hearingin him, hearing voice transport,exalted voice,
would never be the same. A new dimensionof listening had opened. He nowfound he could tap intoresourcesof Spirit carried by the voice chant of poetryunavailableever before. His level of tranceseemed to peakin prose reading of A Child'sX-mas in Wales,
ascending to the range a cut above evenlyric poems, if partly becausethere was no catapultinghelp to vocaldelivery from innate rhythms of verse measure.So the man'sunaided voice projected his soulmore nakedly [End Page 104] and rawly—just the orderedwords propelled
by natural surge of voice. No other leastsupport … In our day, a closeparallel might be MikhailBaryshnikov'ssolo dance attuned to rhythms of his swiftlyaltered heartbeat, thudding over a separate amp.Biologicalessence of the man guiding hisSpirit moves!
It's the most purely unmediated interplaybetween physical gyrations ofboth performing artists—whether dancer'swhole body torsions, or the poet's laryngealtongue dynamic—and systole-diastole. What, indeed,is the willfullyshifted heartbeat, but a passionindicator? [End Page 105]
Laurence Lieberman, professor emeritus, University of Illinois, has published fifteen books of poetry and four books of criticism (essays). He founded the Illinois Poetry Series and was its editor from 1971 to 2009. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Harpers, the Nation, New Republic, Poetry Magazine, and American Poetry Review, among others.