Friday, April 30, 2010

Annie Finch on Michael Maglaras

Don't miss Annie Finch's post on the Poetry Foundation's blog: Audacity of Voice: The Poet as Actor, Michael Maglaras’ Hiawatha Marathon, and How I Made my CD.

An excerpt follows below:

Michael Maglaras is an professional reader-aloud of poetry. He trained as an opera singer, and he loves poetry, and one of the things he does is to go around and give readings. I met him when I introduced his six-hour reading of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha at a theater in Portland last year. How long will all these folks last, I confess I wondered cynically when I first walked in and saw the house was full. Yes, I confess to a slight feeling of superiority, earned from the hundreds (maybe thousands?!) of hours of poetry readings I’ve sat through. Did these people (realtors and plumbers and all kinds of other people, judging from my random queries, but not a single poet that I could tell) know what they were in for?

But I was laughing out of the other side of my poetic mouth three hours later when the house was still full, with people knitting happily and kids sitting on the edge of their seats and everyone rapt with attention, riding the trochees onward with all their variations and subtleties as Michael intoned the prologues and boomed the battles and storms and whispered the love scenes and wiggled like a squirrel and channeled Hiawatha and Pau-Puk-Keewis and Kahgahgee and Minnehaha and Laughing Water and Wagemin and Nokomis and the scores of other characters Longfellow had researched so painstakingly.

When I had to leave, regretfully, a couple of hours after that, many people still remained in the audience—after five hours—to hear the final controversial scenes of the poem. I was humbled, and excited, by the singular power of the perennial, metrical spine of poetry, surging its energetic currents among us, bringing images alive within a community of people. And when Michael looked at my own work and decided he wanted to perform some of my poems, I was excited too. Now my version of a poem from Calendars can be compared to Maglaras’ version of the same poem. If anyone wants to continue the Actor vs. Poet experiment begun on the podcast, where listeners were asked to compare an actor and a poet reading the same (free-verse) poem, I’d be curious what you think; would the experiment come out differently with a metrical poem?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Full house for Michael Maglaras poetry reading at Longfellow's Wayside Inn

View photos at this link.
On Sunday, April 18, Michael Maglaras, founder of 217 Records, performed a dramatic reading of excerpts from The Song of Hiawatha at the Longfellow Big Read at the Martha Mary Chapel at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. This hour-long reading was performed with a full score of pre-recorded sound effects and music by Native American musicians.

Michael also performed "Paul Revere’s Ride" as a special encore commemorating the significance of the 18th of April. 2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the publishing of this poem.

In 2007, 217 Records released a limited edition 5-CD recording of The Song of Hiawatha to mark the Bicentennial of American master poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Accompanied by a soundtrack of Native American drums, flutes, vocals, and a host of sound effects, Michael Maglaras brings the story of Hiawatha (more than 6,500 lines) to life for a modern audience. Purchase the CD at this link.

Friday, April 16, 2010

This is not your grandmother's "Hiawatha"

Longfellow's best-loved poems to be read Sunday

By Chris Bergeron/DAILY NEWS STAFF
Apr 16, 2010

Though Henry Wadsworth Longfellow never spent a night at the Wayside Inn, the 19th century bard's verse will resound through the Martha-Mary Chapel Sunday afternoon in dramatic readings of two of his best-loved poems.

Former opera singer Michael Maglaras will recite four cantos, or books, from "The Song of Hiawatha" and "Paul Revere's Ride" in its entirety at 4 p.m. in the chapel of the Sudbury landmark as part of a series of events celebrating the legacy of one of the nation's most distinguished poets.

Read full article at this link.

Maglaras said Longfellow -- like his other 19th century favorites, poet John Greenleaf Whittier and author Mark Twain -- wrote verse and prose that reflected the optimism and confidence of their era.

"It was a confident time in our history when they were all alive. They were great poets and writers who never doubted their ability to set themselves a task and just do it," he said. "We can learn from that kind of wonderful exuberance."

Asked how a 21st century audience might respond to Longfellow's under-appreciated 19th century masterpiece, Maglaras replied without hesitation, "They'll walk out (of the chapel) feeling damn proud to be Americans."