whom were you reading when it was just you and the microphone?
A: I was reading to Longfellow. I loved
being alone with the poem and the microphone. It was such a contrast
to my years of presenting to audiences of thousands. No adrenaline
flow required, I felt, "It's just us, Henry, just you and me."
There I stood, recording in the kitchen and the Rainy Day Room
of his Portland
home, and in the Gold Ring Roomthe master bedroomof
Q: Did you really
need music, or did you just like Michael Hoppé's work?
A: For better and for worse, the modern
mind multitasks, so my readings actually are heard better with
the music behind them. Younger generations know that the cognitive
mind focuses better if the non-cognitive mind is distracted. Look
at how they do their homework.
Q: But music also
amplifies the emotional content. How did you get that so right?
A: It begins with the poetry. Michael and
I wanted just to convey what was already there. I'd attempt to
capture the tone of the poem, and Michael fit his music to my
reading. He did that so well that it's difficult now for me to
separate the poem from its background. The poetry floats on Michael's
music, which reflects it back without a ripple.
Q: There is a
revival of interest in Longfellowa
new novel, a new biography, a
new edition of his translations, and your
recordings. Is this another coincidence?
A: This is no coincidence. There's a felt
need now for Longfellow's gentility and hopefulness in the face
of uncertainty and loss. His poems, laden with meaning and feeling,
bring as much to us now as when they were written.
and Coincidence | About
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