Homer was a blind singer who played a flute, and the epics 'The Illiad' and 'The Oddyssey' are attributed to him. these epics celebrate the exploits of Greek heroes such as Achilles and Oddeseus; and the mystical Greek gods and goddesses. John Milton composed 'Paradise Lost' and 'Paradise Regained' at a time that he had gone blind and had to recite them to his daughters. The Indian epics,'The Ramayana' and 'The Mahabharata' were recited for centuries before they could be put down in writing.
So is the essence of poetry in its written form or in its performance? Of interest also is the rich oral culture of Africa. The Griots of West Africa and the Imbongi of Southern Africa recited poetry to their people for generations long before the printing press came to Africa.Why did Allen Ginsberg and the Beat poets rebel against the strict structure of English poetry? Why did Heidwig Gorski coin the term 'Performance poetry' in 1981? Why did the African Americans and the Nuyorecan club start the 'Spoken Word' and 'Hip Hop' movement in the USA?
I look at the proverbs handed down to us by our forefathers; I look at our greetings and funeral and wedding rites; our prayers and national anthems, political slogans and the Haka! Why do they all reek of performance poetry?