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Title: Difficult Poet Names
Description: and how to pronounce them


R Lumsden - March 7, 2008 01:00 AM (GMT)
Following on from a query in my group about whether Kenneth Koch should be pronounced koch, kotch, cock, coke or coach (I've heard all used with confidence).

Here's a thread to ask and answer about those poet names you never were confident of using in polite company...

...but first a cautionary tale. Last year on a music forum I frequent, someone asked how to pronounce the name of late 70s singer Laura Nyro. Most answered that it was LAW-ra NIGH-ro. And they are right... but also wrong.

Most people now refer to her with this pronunciation, but given that she was born Laura Nigro, of mixed Jewish and Italian blood, her name should be pronounced LOUGH-ra NEE-ro (and she herself pronounced Nyro as NEE-ro). But over time, the 'wrong' pronunciation has become the accepted one - it sounds pretentious to talk about LOUGH-ra NEE-ro - and she's not around to correct people. Look how many people still talk about BOUGH-ie and not BOW-ie.

Also... Dr Seuss's family tried for a long time to get the public to adopt the correct 'ZOICE' instead of the accepted ZEUS, to no avail. So please stipulate whether your suggestions are accepted usages, strictly correct, the poet's own suggestions, 'un-Americanised' ones, etc

R Lumsden - March 7, 2008 01:27 AM (GMT)
A few notes and queries to start:

Having always assumed Galway Kinnell was pronounced, as you'd imagine, GALL-way kinELL, I was informed by an American friend last year that the poet in fact pronounces his name GAL-way KIN-el (gal as in guys and 'gal's). Noty convinced on this one - might be a 'Chinese whisper' based on accent.

Charles Simic is I believe SIM-ick, though his original name would have been SIM-itch.

Derek Mahon I believe is MA-hun. Not MA'N, as many say, thinking the h mostly disappears as the 'th' does in some Celtic words with 'th' in the centre.

Tamar Yoseloff. TA-mar YO-zelof, not ta-MAR.

Fred D'Aguiar - Fred da-GEAR, I think.

Theodore Roethke - debatable one. Americanised as RET-ky I'm told, though many still use something between that and the original Euro pronunciation (RöT-ka), often ROTH-ka or RET-ka.

Perhaps Mark can give us a run-down on some of the Irish ones, including his own?

Jane Holland - March 7, 2008 02:20 AM (GMT)
I'm always hearing Brendan Kennelly's name wrongly pronounced as either Ken-NEALY and KEN-elly. It should be K'n-NELLY. If that makes sense.

Alan Buckley - March 7, 2008 09:26 AM (GMT)
QUOTE
Here's a thread to ask and answer about those poet names you never were confident of using in polite company...


Polite company? But I only usually talk about poetry with other poets...

mgranier - March 7, 2008 10:53 AM (GMT)
QUOTE

Derek Mahon I believe is MA-hun. Not MA'N, as many say, thinking the h mostly disappears as the 'th' does in some Celtic words with 'th' in the centre.


In Dublin we pronounce it Ma-hun. Some of DM's fellow Northerners may pronounce it the other way; a friend of mine once did, to pun on the first line of one of DM's poems: Wonders are many and none is more wonderful than Mahon...

QUOTE

Theodore Roethke - debatable one. Americanised as RET-ky I'm told, though many still use something between that and the original Euro pronunciation (RöT-ka), often ROTH-ka or RET-ka.


Several Americans have assured me that the last one, Ret-ka, is correct.

Jane is right re. Brendan Kennelly.

As for my own name, Granier, the correct (French) pronunciation is Grawn-e-ay. But I rarely use it. I generally pronounce it as it is spelled. Still, people often misspell it, understandably: Grannier, Grenier, Grainer etc. When I book a restaurant or taxi I often use Grainger to save time.



Jane Holland - March 7, 2008 11:17 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (mgranier @ Mar 7 2008, 10:53 AM)

Jane is right re. Brendan Kennelly.

Matthew Francis - March 7, 2008 02:44 PM (GMT)
QUOTE

Tamar Yoseloff. TA-mar YO-zelof, not ta-MAR.


Yes, and the O is long, so YOH really.

Thomas KIN-sella but John Kin-SELL-a. And to go back a bit, T.E. Hume, the L not pronounced. And going back still further and becoming seriously pedantic, Sir Walter RAW-ley.

Chris Hamilton-Emery - March 7, 2008 11:33 PM (GMT)
I must admit I only recently discovered Thomas Carew is pronounced Thomas Carey. I'll never remember that though.

R Lumsden - March 8, 2008 02:29 AM (GMT)
And then there's William Cowper - plain old Cooper in pronunciation.

Anyone want to deal with the Poles?

Angela - March 8, 2008 08:19 AM (GMT)
I was married to a Pole once upon a time.
The easy ones that most people know are: w pronounced as v, j pronounced as y.

cz = sh
sz = ch
grzy = is a sound we don't have in english - the nearest I can think to approximating it is a soft g followed by a soft j and a soft z.
There is a letter that looks like a lower case L with a slash through it - pronounced as w

That's all I can think of for now.

Chris Hamilton-Emery - March 8, 2008 08:59 AM (GMT)
Thanks Angela, the one I was always taught by a Pole was SHesWav MeeWodge: would that be right?

Angela - March 8, 2008 09:55 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Chris Hamilton-Emery @ Mar 8 2008, 08:59 AM)
Thanks Angela, the one I was always taught by a Pole was SHesWav MeeWodge: would that be right?

Yes - thats as close as we can get with english sounds, tho the 'odge' (osz) would be much softer than we'd say it (try leaving the teeth slightly open instead of closing them for the 'd'). Wikipedia has pronunciation files with their polish poets - tho my computer won't play them

Sunny Dunny - March 8, 2008 10:07 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Chris Hamilton-Emery @ Mar 8 2008, 08:59 AM)
Thanks Angela, the one I was always taught by a Pole was SHesWav MeeWodge: would that be right?

I think that's very close Chris. A couple of years ago I had to iintroduce a discussion of him by Jane Hirshfield, who knew him well.

When I was in China last November I discovered that the poet most Westerners pronounce as Li Po is pronounced Li Bai over there. It's the old Wade-Giles versus Pinyin business.

Matthew Francis - March 8, 2008 05:12 PM (GMT)
And Ezra Pound called him Rihaku, which is apparently the Japanese version of his name.

KEB - March 14, 2008 07:53 AM (GMT)
I'm told Koch IS, definitively, "coke."

And Lowell is "loe-ell", NEVER "lough-ell"!! WHY do people do that?

I'd never heard Laura Nyro pronounced with a long Y sound, it's definitely "neero". Like Dionne Warwick, where you pronounce both w's.

Chris Hamilton-Emery - March 14, 2008 08:18 AM (GMT)
We've also got Tim LEE-ar-day, Luke K'naahr, Tony loPETH, Michele leggoTT, Chris MacAHRB and our own ToMASS Sheevehrs.

I think that's right.

Krees 'Amilton-AayMerEE

David Wheatley - March 15, 2008 10:56 AM (GMT)
My name, where I live, is pronounced Weeetlehhh.

Americans says MaHONE for Mahon, which as any Irish-speaker will tell you means 'my arse'.

Lots of people in this country seem to say McGOOKian for McGuckian, for some reason.

As for Eilean Ni Chuilleanain... It EhLANE Nee KHWILLennawn, with that KH sound as in 'loch'.

The Dh in Ni Dhomhnaill is to that Ch as a g is to a k sound. It's a GH sound, down in the throat. Very common in Arabic, if that's any help.

I have never got to the bottom of NEEdecker/NYEdecker for Niedecker.

People fond of citing her in Ireland, I vividly remember, had a tendency to say AkhmaTOVA, when the stress should fall on the preceding syllable. Should it not.

Chris mentioned Carey for Carew. Crashaw is sometimes pronounced Crawshaw.

The great Emil Cioran's surname should be pronounced TCHOran. Because of his long residency in French it became naturalized as SEEohrawn. People in Ireland, I suppose, can always call him 'Keeron'.

Matthew Francis - March 15, 2008 11:25 AM (GMT)
No one's mentioned Eavan Boland yet. I'm pretty sure the last name is BOH-land, but what about the first? I've heard EE-van, AY-van and e-VAN. David, Mark?

Jane Holland - March 15, 2008 12:35 PM (GMT)
Reproducing this from my post today in our Welcome section:

Welcome to Ailbhe Darcy! :D

I think she may qualify as one of our 'difficult poet names' ... ailbhee, alba, alibi, Elba, elbow, I'll be ...

mgranier - March 15, 2008 01:18 PM (GMT)
QUOTE

No one's mentioned Eavan Boland yet. I'm pretty sure the last name is BOH-land, but what about the first?


BOH-land is correct. Regarding Eavan, I am not certain. I have heard it pronounced, and have pronounced it myself, as both E-VAN (i.e. as a spondee) and e-VAN. But according to this article, the poet herself wishes her name to be pronounced ee-VON, as in Yvonne: eh?

Steven Waling - March 15, 2008 01:21 PM (GMT)
Steven Waling.

As in WOH-ling, not as in "Wailing", or Whaling.

Thank you.

Jane Holland - March 15, 2008 01:38 PM (GMT)
Jane Holland.

As in ... Holland. Oh, for an interesting and unpronounceable name. Which reminds me, there's a very funny line or two of poetry by ? featuring the name of a 'small town in the Balkans' whose name, like God's, is terrible to pronounce, but I can't remember the poet or the poem or the name of the town or even the lines properly.

Szirtes? Um ...

Matthew Francis - March 15, 2008 02:12 PM (GMT)
You have to remember this article was written for a US audience, and they would pronounce VON as VAHN. So I guess ee-VAHN is probably correct. I had a similar problem with Chuck Pahlaniuk, who says the first two syllables of his surname are pronounced as in (and derived from) the name Paula. So for a while I was saying PAW-la-nick until I remembered the US/UK difference and guessed he actually meant PAH-la-nick.

tbc - March 15, 2008 04:42 PM (GMT)
Chivers with a short [i]. Not Chive-ers, or Cheevers, or - God Forbid! - Shivers (unless pronounced with a French accent).

David Wheatley - March 15, 2008 04:49 PM (GMT)
Chuck Pahlaniuk is the pseudonym of a man called Alan Chuckpuke, surely.

Chris Hamilton-Emery - March 15, 2008 07:21 PM (GMT)
My favourite NA name is Luke Warm Water, who has endorsed some Salt titles. (And a thoroughly nice bloke.)


Please, let's introduce some sensational mispronunciations. It's so much more fun when the students use them.

"Of course, MACK DIE ARR MYOOD let the modernist rapproachement decline in Whalsay."

David Wheatley - March 15, 2008 07:57 PM (GMT)
I remember interrupting a student once to say that, while it was an entirely understandable mistake to make, those two writers' names were in fact pronounced 'Yates' and 'Sing'. The student thanked me and continued all through the rest of his presentation to pronounce them Yeets and Singe.

David Wheatley - March 15, 2008 08:00 PM (GMT)
There are some people around, and I've met 'em, who pronounce the last syllable of Simon Armitage's name with a stretched a and French g, as in 'visage'.

I have also heard a very-well known writer pronounce Prynne's name 'Preen'.


David Wheatley - March 15, 2008 08:25 PM (GMT)
I once heard of an American academic who had construed the title of Paul Muldoon's poem 'Aisling' to be a verb, from 'aisle', and so pronounced 'Eye-ling'.

Top that.

R Lumsden - March 15, 2008 11:32 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Chris Hamilton-Emery @ Mar 15 2008, 07:21 PM)
My favourite NA name is Luke Warm Water, who has endorsed some Salt titles. (And a thoroughly nice bloke.)

I know Luke and toured with him in the Dakotas in spring 04. Despite being (and looking) very much Native American, the German side of his family happens to be patronymically dominant and his real name is Kurt Schweigmann. Very funny poet and storyteller and a lovely man.


Jane Holland - March 15, 2008 11:35 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (David Wheatley @ Mar 15 2008, 08:00 PM)


I just posted this under 'report' rather than 'reply', which I'm sure will have almightily confused our moderators.

I haven't checked my email all day, so thanks for that. Forewarned is forearmed. ;)

Or should that be four-ear-med?

Ailbhe Darcy - March 17, 2008 02:05 PM (GMT)
:rolleyes: Alva!

Thanks for the welcome!

Jane Holland - March 17, 2008 05:59 PM (GMT)
Alva? You pronounce 'Ailbhe' as 'Alva'?

Stunned of Warwickshire.

*

(Afterthought: Aha, you mean like Siobhan!)

tbc - March 17, 2008 06:03 PM (GMT)
Seeing as we're on Gaelic names...

Aoife Mannix (London-based poet and performer) is pronounced EEFA, with accent on first syllable. The last syllable is unstressed (schwa).

David Wheatley - March 17, 2008 06:18 PM (GMT)
I like to impress my students with the fact that the Irish verb 'bhfaighidh' is pronounced 'wye'.

Anyone who wants to get to the bottom of Gaelic pronunciation can do so here:

http://www.standingstones.com/gaelpron.html

R Lumsden - March 18, 2008 01:46 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (David Wheatley @ Mar 17 2008, 06:18 PM)
I like to impress my students with the fact that the Irish verb 'bhfaighidh' is pronounced 'wye'.

So what would Hay-on-Wye be? Or should I ask Muldoon?

Alan Buckley - March 18, 2008 09:28 AM (GMT)
That's Muldoon pronounced M'DUN, of course

R Lumsden - March 19, 2008 01:19 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (R Lumsden @ Mar 15 2008, 11:32 PM)
Luke Warm Water

Here we go...

user posted image

l-r Sarah Kobrinsky, Cheryl Burke, Me, Tim Wells, Luke Warm Water
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, April 04

Jane Holland - March 19, 2008 01:57 AM (GMT)
I love the way you've specified l-r here, just in case we mistake Luke and Tim for females of the species. :rolleyes:




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