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CURRENT PROSODY COURSE SCHEDULE upcoming, online only, notices and links via the newsletter

Feel free to attend the meetings, singly or serially. For those new to the course, all is not lost. Prior meetings were based on notes I presented as talks, which I then drafted as essays. These drafts can be found here. And the original announcement for this iteration of the prosody course — Prosody and the Preciousness of Life — can be found here.

Sunday Dec. 3, 2023, 1:30-3:30PM EST

An Undemeaning of Meter (part 2 of 2)

For decades, I've been expanding on prosody, working against any restrictive definition, such as its most reductive equation with meter (with meter itself reduced to metronomic tedium and entombment). In my lifework of telling an entire story of prosody, having been dismissive of meter as well, I felt I had to turn and face the demeaned, the desiccation ... the cadaver. This isn't a defense of meter as integral to prosody, or recompense for the short shrift it's suffered. Rather it's an openness to our most ancient mediator of speech and song, a log of the extended, unexpected shock of meeting this self-imposed requirement, as well as an expression of gratitude for its windfall. We live in meter's shadow. (text from Part 1 can be read here)

Sunday Dec. 17, 2023, 1:30-3:30pm EST

Sowa Rigpa Treating Poetry, the Poetics of Traditional Tibetan Medicine

                   "May all I make, compound or assemble together be medicine."

I'll present a new science or method of inquiry or critique by correlating traditional medicine and experimental poetics. Anything can be a medicine. Anything can be a poison. I'll focus on the 3 poisons and 3 fruits, the primary cause of disease, the 5 elements and 3 humors in relation to reading and writing poetry. (prior, partial presentation described here)

Sunday Jan. 14, 2024, 1:30-3:30pm EST

Trans-Species Prosody and the Elemental Interdependence of Everything

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announcement for the most recent series of meetings:


As before, the meetings will be in person, online, recorded or available as text. Again, the newsletter will be used to provide all the necessary details. If you're not already signed on, you can do so here. 

I'd like to design the schedule together, accommodatively. in determining the best overall day of the week for meeting, the time of day, and the interval between meetings, please get back to me soon if you have any preferences. The course will be, as before, donation-based (modeled on Sanskrit dāna.)


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Where we left off, and what the pause was all about: after expanding on prosody for five sessions, I wanted to deal exclusively with prosody's most conventional, restrictive definition as 'meter' — contrastive, binary foot-scansion, spectra reduced to stricture. This zeroing in exploded into a vast, overwhelming task to reckon with (a course in itself). At the same time I began full-time training in Tibetan Medicine (whose interrelation with poetics I'll address in a subsequent newsletter) and at the same time I bought a dilapidated pre-CivilWar farmhouse crying out for restoration. All at once.


Picking up where we left off: there'll be 6 interdependent sessions:


An Undemeaning of Meter (prosody from scratch; see full into below)


Prosodic Body/Subtle Body/Energetics/Biophysics Rolled Into One


The Medium is the Medicine (what it is is how it works)


Trans-species Prosody (the singular and plural for 'species' is selfsame; it's not 'communication' but consciousness; it's total Pratītyasamutpāda)


Vibe (energy as vibration and the physics of sound)


Implicate Prosody (one's rhythmic, reciprocal conduct indissociable from ethics, ecology, equity and attuned responsibility in light of the predominant extinctual paradigms and necronormalcy)










What's new: I'd also like to occasionally use the newsletter as a sort of prosody periodical, for informing with regard to the developments and dimensions within prosody as a field. And, as many of you know, I often intermix the meetings with various breath, mantra, movement, medicinal, heart, mind and listening practices, a modicum of the ascesis that has always gone hand in hand with the calling of poetry. At some point, if there's ample interest, I'd like to organize a separate, all-day session for instilling these pith supports.

AN UNDEMEANING OF METER (preview of the first session)


"La métrique est la théorie du rhythme des imbeciles." Henri Meschonnic

Meter protects the syllables. In this sense, meter is mantric.


Meter also means 'to clothe or cover.' That with which one covers oneself in order to be invisible to death. That with which one covers oneself to keep from being harmed by one's own sacrifice.


Meter is our mother, and our father. We're made of beat. Meter is metabolic. Everybody's different. Meter makes it so. Aperiodic people may need to move more methodically. Feet first.


Meter is public. Where we agree to meet.


There is no clear correlation between an anarchic, arbitrarily autarchic beat and disease, unsociability and ecocide. Or is there?


What, exactly, does meter meter, and how fully aware are we of what that is?


Are syllables figmental or actually existent? We speak in syllables. Syllables synchronize segmental and suprasegmental streams. Syllables are the sensorial (and not merely analogous). Or are they nucleated nothingness? Content's peristalsis coursing through us? Syllables are self-arising resonance of the original light. Syllable is the prototypic quantum model: workable as particle and/or wave. We'd be cosmogenesis-less without them. (We're destroying our world because speech is not perceived as seed syllabification.)  Elemental ritual. Creation! One complete jaw oscillation with one sonority peak.


Or we could say that syllables are an accommodation of scarcely understood, glaring neuromotor constraints.


Here's how it works: infants teach grownups syllables as how things get pointed out.


(Certainly I can say that prosody caused syllabification.)

It's sonority that determines syllable (see the Sonority Sequencing Principle). Sonority is vocal tract openness, fullness of airflow, sustainability, perspicuity and supraglottal ease (intraoral air pressure is inversely correlated with sonority... the less effort the freer the force). As such, sonority is our least impeded love. Through sonority we may re-heed human being.


No one can know sonority or syllable without owning phonotactics and the paths of articulatory phonetics. Because we say "play" we parse am pli tude, not amp lit ude (unless you shoplift.) Accordingly, I'll suggest writing experiments with words made of phonemes nearest to each other in sonority (e.g., high vowels and sonorants) or furthest apart (low vowels and stops); with words made only of the most constricted or most open vowels and consonants; with only voiceless obstruents or only continuants or the two in alternating strophes; or a work with only open syllables (no closing consonants, like Bantu and Japanese).

Can phonotactics be meaningfully violated? Can we hear so impartially, to travel outside our phonic ruts? Can we turn the syllable inside out? Hear another people's phonotactics inhering in our own? (PIE, from which English stems, was rife with consonant clustering lost to us: sr, dw, dl, lg, dn, gw, sd, tst, sg, dt, dd, kt, ks, gs, tk, dg, wb, lksn, and the like.


Relax for real, reinvent morphophonemics. Shout out the unvoiced. The cat's out of the bag: sound and meaning correlation is the constituent principle of phenomena. We don't just skip and flit along the surface of phonetic symbolism and onomatopoeic imitation (croak).


Other experiments: treat English polysynthetically: write sentencewords. Language is one lexeme. Pre-differentiate. Or work with word as utterly non-indivisible.

miinibaashkiminasiganibiitoosijiganibadagwiingweshiganibakwezhigan: the longest word in affixally polysynthetic Ojibwe (Anishinaabemowin) is a blueberry pie, i.e., blueberry cooked to jellied preserve that lies in layers in which the face is covered in bread


Words are about to pass out of existence. Words are about to pass out from existence.


Before it's too late, hear the qualities of the individual speech sounds (as they are the set of elements, the building blocks). Or go about it more graphically (Dante was a phonic coiffeur).


It is due to meter that both quantity and quality continue to pertain to poetics.


But does the quantity/quality quandary still weigh on us? Does English carry weight? Although weight attracts stress and heavy can land on long, these forces don't necessarily equate. The 5th century CE sackings of Rome can be understood as a clash between quality and quantity: accentual, alliterative East Germanic Goth collapsing the system that had sustained quantity-sensitization of Latin for 700 years, while collaterally reasserting 'vulgar' stress and prefiguring the rhyme-happy Dark Ages and the quantification counter-revolutions to come (from Claudio Tolomei's Accademia della Nuova Poesia right up to Zukofksy's neo-neoteric Catullus translations.)


In effect, civilization and syllable quantification are correlates.


Civility weaponizes itself to become the barbarity it believes it supersedes. Are classical metrics wrapped up in this history, having overspread the neo-Latin 'developing' vernaculars?


Civilization keeps rules from arising from nature.


"What honour were it then for our English language to be the first that after so many yeares of barbarisme could second the perfection of the industrious Greekes and Romaines?" — Thomas Campion


Is there an ur-meter? Is it not recurrence in the cadence, the line's closing feet, that has carried melody all along (over 90% of Ennius's lines close with word-stress on the beginning of the fifth and sixth feet)?


Or is English rhythm strictly an inside job: nothing more than stress isochrony allowed by vowel-weakening in unstressed syllables? (Schwa is our drone, our om.)


If measure is dead to the immeasurable (the myriadly moraic) how can there be music?

                                            After great pain, a formal feeling came —

                                      The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs.                     

                                                                                                                     Emily Dickinson

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