Historical Analysis of Fast Speaking Woman

Essay by riverchenjzUniversity, Bachelor's February 2014

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Yitong Gao 1132914

ENGL 131 V

Writing Assignment 1.4 Draft 4

Major Paper #1

Historical Analysis of Fast Speaking Woman

In early twentieth century, there emerged a popular form of art----"Sound Poetry" bridging between literary and musical composition, in which the phonetic aspects of human speech are foregrounded instead of more conventional semantic and syntactic values (Wikipedia). At first, words were made mostly by sounds, like "wind", "jam" and "swash", whose pronunciations are similar to their meanings that people can easily understand and remember. Later, as languages developed, sound seemed no more important than spelling. In sound poetry, however, languages are back to their origins (the way they were created), focusing on feeling of audition to convey intentions, which is even more effective than words. For instance, when a zombie suddenly appears in a horror movie, screaming like "aaaaaa" may be a first reaction to show fears, but "I am scared", though conveying the same meaning, is a weaker expression than sound.

In the history of sound poetry, there is a famous American female poet Anne Waldman (1945~now) who makes a good use the sound of words. She combines Maria Sabina (a Mexican Shaman)'s theory into her poem Fast Speaking Woman to make it a chant. By using similar structure and chant form, Waldman's poem is a development Sabina's healing work applied to culture.

Unlike the sound poem Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters with meaningless words and pronunciations to express emotions, Fast Speaking Woman by Anne Waldman distinguishes itself by filling a variety of (English) words as descriptions into a main structure: " I am a/the…woman" and other similar lines. This structure appears throughout the whole 32-page piece, which resembles to a chant. According to Wikipedia, Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one...