The Art of …

… the spoken word. One of the best perks of being part of this blog is the opportunity to showcase the art of our readers. Today, I’m sharing a new form of art for us. About a month ago, I posted a poem called The Mall, by Canadian poet Evelyn Lau. Dakotagreasemonkey (Rick) then took the time to record himself reading it aloud for us. He has a deep, resonant voice and I found his reading touching. I think he may have a future in dramatic arts and I hope he explores his talent and finds other ways to express himself. I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it. I’d also like to take a moment to thank Marcus (Stderr) for his technical assistance. (The photo in this clip is mine. It’s a place called Plage Nord and it’s across the street from my mother- in- law’s home in Perce, Quebec. Jack and I spent a lot of happy time there.)

The Mall

Today I chose it over the ocean.

Over the trees, their fall leaves

a flock of orange parrots perched on branches.

Over the chandelier of sunlight broken

on blue waves, over flowers

shaped like teacups or trumpets,

over the jade garden where once I dreamed

I wore a green velvet dress

clasped tight at the waist

like the grip of a man’s hand.

I walk toward it like a Zombie,

this strange planet suspended in time,

a space station in the rainforest

inhabited by teenage girls wearing glitter eyeshadow

and slippery lipgloss. I skate

along its arid walkways

as if on an invisible track, away

from my life. Here it could be day or night,

the walls stripped of clocks,

music moaning a mindless refrain,

not a window in sight.

The stores hold their mouths open

like seductresses, radiating heat and light

and a bright array of wares,

a sorbet rainbow of merchandise

delectable as pastilles.

Outside, the lives of grasses

and insects and breezes go on.

After a day at the mall,

stepping back into what’s left of the world,

the sunlight will sear your skin,

and the gallons of fresh air

will pour over you like pain.


by Evelyn Lau





  1. Ice Swimmer says

    I liked Dakotagreasemonkey’s reading of the poem a lot.

    This and a review I read about the Finnish translation of Irene Vallejo’s essay book about the ancient history of the book* “El infinito en un junco: La invención de los libros del mundo antiguo” got me thinking about audiobooks and spoken-word poetry; they being recorded is the new thing, people have read aloud or have had other people read aloud or recite poetry and prose for a long time.

    I’ve been reluctant to take up audio books, but maybe I should give it a try, it would be another way to enjoy literature while being outdoors.
    * = The book (452 pages in original Spanish, over 600 pages in Finnish) was reviewed by a Finnish writer and translator (English to Finnish) in his blog. He liked the book but criticized the Mediterranean-centrism of the writer, with the caveat that the book would have become unmanageably long and branched out way too wide if she had tried to cover the history of books in the whole world.

  2. says

    Ice Swimmer:
    I’ve been reluctant to take up audio books, but maybe I should give it a try, it would be another way to enjoy literature while being outdoors.

    Think of the narration as a worthwhile performance in its own right. It doesn’t detract, sometimes it synergizes. For example, one of my histories of WW2 was narrated by some very British officorial fellow, and it brought the whole thing to life.

    And you can listen while you do other things.

  3. Nightjar says

    I also enjoyed this a lot. Thanks for sharing this talent of yours, I would certainly not mind hearing more. Spoken word art can be so moving, and this reading was an example of it.

  4. lochaber says

    @Ice Swimmer >

    Not sure if this matters much to you, but I don’t like using headphones outside of my house, I feel like it really compromises my hearing and situation awareness and such. I bought a pair of bone conduction headphones to use on my bicycle commute, and I kinda like them. If I have them up too loud, it can drown out noises like being near a loud radio, but if I have the volume set appropriately, I have no problem hearing stuff around me. might work for other outdoorsy things.

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