Accepted Paper:

Dialogic oral poetry in traditional and modern media  


Venla Sykäri (Finnish Literature Society)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that dialogic forms of traditional oral poetry constantly navigate within the web of texts and face-to-face performance. The identity of the poetic text as a potential source of meaning is therefore similar in traditional oral as well as in modern mediated environments.

Paper long abstract:

The dialogicality of traditional oral poetry is a little researched subject. A systematic analysis of what people do with registers deeply rooted in their community can, however, show how identities, art and meaning are created by dialogic navigation within the web of texts and performances. Basing on recent long-term fieldwork, this paper will discuss how Cretans create these webs by performing the local rhyming couplets as utterances in performance, and by circulating them as entities with potential meaning.

Traditionally, the improvised or memorized couplets are sung with music and dance during festivities and informal singing events in Crete. The poems have also offered the means for expressing emotions and attitudes in casual proverbial communication. Until the 1980s, these activities were taken to create face-to-face dialogues in the whole community - but several inside-groups continue the tradition up to this day. During the last decades, nevertheless, poems more commonly appear in professional music performances as well as in daily television and radio shows. Today, they are widely distributed in the Internet and as text messages. As faceless as these new venues may seem, in this research the possibility for a parallel analysis of the new and traditional arenas brought forth significant similarities between them. The basic similarity is that people compose, stock and circulate texts as entities for potential dialogues.

Panel P18
Expressive culture and identities in a digital age