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The words and music of the Mountain Goats

By Harriet Staff

Jim Fisher over at the Paris Review blog has put together an appreciation of John Darnielle (impresario behind the best little death-metal-folk-rock band The Mountain Goats) and his sometimes-sung, sometimes-written poetry:

We poets write a lot about the music of poetry, its roots in oral/aural traditions, its rhythm and need to be sounded aloud, but very little about the meter of poetry—meter, which is a requirement of rhythm and of what most Westerners consider song.

It’s a missed opportunity, because for metrical verse to work, it doesn’t much matter how the stresses—or pulses—in each measure are perceived. The beat of 3/4 or 4/4 time is as effective a cadence as that of trimeter or tetrameter, and the syncopation of the vocalist as nimble a device for varying those beats as a formal poet’s phrasing. Lyric poetry, after all, was first written for the lyre.

So I call Darnielle a poet, and I proselytize.


Posted in Poetry News on Monday, July 12th, 2010 by Harriet Staff.