Joe Ceravolo “Drunken Winter” and “Migratory Noon”
Another case of a recording that exists in a space between public and private reception is a recording of Joseph Ceravolo reading in his New Jersey apartment with the radio on in the background. What is the status of this recording? The music in the background seems to complement the poems in places. This recording seems to gesture more toward the idea of an audience, but what kind of audience (friends)? How do these private (or very limited distribution) recordings inform our understanding of the poet’s own understanding of their work?
For a long time I had a very particular idea about Ceravolo and his work that was informed by listening to this recording. His affect seems somehow both flat and entirely expressive. There’s something one might associate with sadness about the lack of dramatic intonational shifts but Ceravolo’s voice here also has to do with longing, immensity. The slow, measured pace of the speech and the clipped twists and turns of the language gave me something precise and strange, framed but also wild.
Compare this to the sped up pace and different ambience of this recording in a more public space: Joe Ceravolo “Migratory Noon” (St. Marks Poetry Project, ca 1970’s?)
Also, I was struck by Ceravolo’s introductory comments at this reading. After listening to the home recording with music for several years and reading his books (from photocopied out of print books I got from Interlibrary loan or used out of print books I ordered online) I had a sense of a poet who was somewhat isolated, singular, completely out of context, etc. It was so interesting to have my original naive impressions and clumsy assumptions questioned by the following paratextual comments which show him as gregarious, embedded within a community, having his work shaped by others, etc. As I write this I think “of course!” but for years I think I had a distorted (but still completely fascinated and engrossed) impression of his work due to the strange intimacy of the home+radio recording environment. Here’s some of his initial comments to the live reading: Introductory comments to live reading
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