Close Listening and the Performed Word brings together seventeen strikingly original essays, especially written for this volume, on the poetry reading, the sounds of poetry, and the visual performance of poetry. While the performance of poetry is as old as poetry itself, critical attention to modern and postmodern poetry performance has been negligible. This collection opens many new avenues for the critical discussion of the sound and performance of poetry, with special attention to innovative work. More important, the essays collected here offer brilliant and wide-ranging elucidations of how twentieth-century poetry has been practiced as a performance art. The contributors--including Marjorie Perloff, Susan Stewart, Johanna Drucker, Dennis Tedlock, and Susan Howe--cover topics that range from the performance styles of individual poets and types of poetry to the relation of sound to meaning, from historical and social approaches to poetry readings and to new imaginations of prosody. Such approaches are intended to encourage new forms of "close listenings"--not only to the printed text of poems, but also to tapes, performances, and other expressions of the sounded word. With readings and "spoken word" events gaining an increasing audience for poetry, Close Listening provides an indispensable critical groundwork for understanding the importance of language in--and as--performance.