Ode to orca

oh orca oh orca oh orca oh
ho orca ho orca ho orca ho
ca rohor ca rohor ca rohor ca
orca ho orca ho orca ho or
r c-a r c-a r c-a r
c a-r c a-r c a-r c

or ca c
or ca do

oh orca
I wish I was m
like you

This is a sound poem, and it only works when you try to read it out loud (either in your head or when no one’s around 😉

I’ve never written a sound poem in my life. But yesterday (which means before our prompt was up!) this poem happened. I was in a train, trying to write a poem using the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides. I had rather randomly chosen the orca as a subject to write about, but the muse kept quiet. I wanted to stick with my choice (I’m pigheaded sometimes) so picking up on the O of orca I wrote down Ode to orca as a title. Nothing came… Then I decided to just stick with the sounds and write something from there. #NaPoWriMo has done a great job in helping me write waaaayyyy outside my comfort zone 🙂

You can imagine my surprise when I read the prompt today: a sound poem. It’s no coincidence that I wrote this one after the last few days. When I struggled with the breaking-the-rules prompt, I though about the weirdest poem I know of: Kurt Schwitters Ursonate. A famous dadaist sound poem, consisting only of incomprehensible sounds.

Funny thing: I had only read about the Ursonate, and I believed it was the type of nonsense I don’t like (sorry Herr Schwitters). But when I looked it up on YouTube, and listened to it whilst writing this post, I really enjoyed listening to it!

I’ll link up to a radio recording of Schwitters himself in 1932 and a video of Michael Schmid performing the piece in 2011. If you first listen to Schwitters and then watch the performance, you can only imagine what it must be like to learn a poem like this by heart…



8 thoughts on “Ode to orca

    1. Angela van Son Post author

      Ha, you got me thinking! I have always loved Dada as part of art history, and always realised I’d probably would have hated it if I had been in the audience back then. So what’s the difference? Why do I appreciate is as history, but expect to not have liked it when it was new?

      I think it’s because I either want to understand things, or enjoy them, or both. So as part of history, I understand what they were doing and appreciate what it took to do it (guts, creativity, etc.). And the effects it had. Back then, I probably would have been confused, bored after a while, or both – maybe unless I had been part of the movement instead of the audience.

      Then I realised something that’s rather meaningful to me: it happens to me outside Dada as well. That I’m lost in when I don’t understand something and don’t enjoy it.

      I even think that’s one of the problems I used to have with poetry 🙂

      1. memadtwo

        You’re right, it often takes time to understand and appreciate something or someone. We change, and the way we see and hear changes as well. History is always revising itself, so why not individuals too?

  1. Dawn D

    I just couldn’t do the sound poem. Not today. Instead, I laughed at myself. It was fun! 🙂

    I like your poem though, being a performing arts lover. I read it out loud, enjoying the changes where the h sounds go.
    But I guess I need some sense to a text tfor me to write it.


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