Poems performed are poems sounded, where the sounding by the voice or by instruments acting as surrogate voices can bring a new sense of power/empowerment to performers and auditors. The further extensions and transformations of voice move it closer and closer to "the condition of music," to the point where words and syntax the common constituents of language are obscured, subordinated, or totally abandoned. The push toward such a poetry has long been present at the far limits of the modernist project and with it the recognition of similar processes and works outside of literature as such. Thus Velimir Khlebnikov, early in the game, with reference to a traditional Russian poetry equivalent to his newly minted zaum language:
Spells and incantations, what we call magic words, the sacred language of paganism are rows of mere syllables which the intellect can make no sense of, and they form a kind of beyondsense [zaum] language in folk speech. Nevertheless an enormous power over mankind is attributed to these incomprehensible and magic spells, a direct influence upon the fate of man. The magic in a word remains magic even if it is not understood and loses none of its power. Poems may be understandable or they may not, but they must be good, they must be truthful. (Translation from the Russian by Paul Schmidt)
Magic, then, is the first key and from this the idea of a special language or series of languages, extraordinary in their nature and effect, and uniting the user (through what Malinowski called "the coefficient of weirdness") with the beings and things hes trying to influence or connect with for a sharing of power, participation in a life beyond his own, beyond the human, etc.
The selections presented here will explore a range of such extra-literary soundworks as caught on audio recordings both in the sacred/magical contexts envisioned by Khlebnikov and in areas of free play and secular improvisation.