vocalisms #12: Sherwin Bitsui


vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.

Photo of Sherwin Bitsui by Rodney Phillips in 2010

In this thirteen minute track, Sherwin Bitsui takes listeners through his 2009 book-length sequence Flood Song, beginning to end. He so seamlessly excerpts from throughout the sequence that I come away with a sense of having heard the entire book. This sense comes from how accurately Bitsui’s reading conveys the trajectory and energy of Flood Song: it rushes forward, persistent with the weight of what it has to say. One of the final lines from Flood Song has haunted me for years: “The phone was ringing through it all.” Enjoy this reading, and let those mysterious, weighted lines linger.