On Language and Connection via S.P. Bailey’s “spark”

From horrigans on Flickr

Anthology Poet Highlight 46/82: S.P. Bailey, “spark”

Even though it’s short, S.P. (Shawn) Bailey’s “spark” has potential for diverse readings—even moreso, I think, because it’s not punctuated. This places greater emphasis on the words and the lines themselves and invites readers to contemplate how these words and lines work together as a series of signs and sounds, arranged by the poet, I presume, to give maximum reading pleasure. As such, it should probably be read aloud to provide the fullest lyric effect.

In my efforts to understand and to represent this effect with my voice, I recorded myself reading the poem several times. Here are the two versions I’m most happy with. Each performance, I think, interprets the poem slightly differently. The (Connected) version emphasizes the connectedness of the words and the lines, organized as they are into distinct stanzas wherein the speaker observes and seeks (unsuccessfully) to connect with the object of his affection. The (Disconnected) version emphasizes the disconnectedness of the lines, presenting each as if it stood on its own, just as the two bodies represented in the poem stand alone and never really connect.

I’m not sure which I like better. Whatever the case, my playing with the language of an unpunctuated poem was a fun experiment. Try it out and see, or should I say, sound for yourself.

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