Why You Should Transcribe Spoken Word Poetry

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Transcription has been discussed in the context of industry and government here and elsewhere for as long as there has been a spoken word and a transcriber to record that word. Today transcription is still primarily discussed in terms of business or governance but to exclude the personal, creative and artistic benefits of transcription from the limelight is to deprive the world of some of its most profound and engaging text.

The greatest orators of all time were transcribed, not for work or archival purposes, but to record the brilliance of their oration – the poetry of their words. From Plato to Sarah Kay, thought provoking truth-seekers have used rhetorical theatre to compel us to think, to challenge our preconceived ideas and to consider our opinions. Without the text of these compelling masters, the world would be a poorer place.

Transcription is not just provision of archival records of audio recordings and medical records; although it is these things too, it is so much more as well. It is the oratory artist immortalized in his or her words articulated so profoundly and with such originality that they have compelled, like Plato, centuries of debate, or like Sarah Kay new performing art movements.

Like most poetry lovers, I profoundly enjoy sitting with text in my hands, transcribed and published into crisp paper form – but when I see Sarah Kay on stage she takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. I deeply wish I could have heard Plato’s voice so profoundly and I am grateful that today I do not have to choose between the pleasure of oratory or text. One day technology will enable us to simulate Plato speaking live and then even past transcriptions will offer both the pleasures of audio and visual poetry.

This post was written by Helga Sonier.

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