PLATTSBURGH – Robert Frost traveled the roads of mid-century New England straight to the Adirondack coast.
The late 20th century American poet will return through a 1959 recording on “An Evening with Robert Frost” on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
Frost, who died in 1963, was a frequent visitor to Plattsburgh when he visited his friend, Dr. Edward “Doc” Redcay, who was dean of students.
It was during these visits that Frost, author of such iconic poems as “The Road Not Taken”, “Mending Wall”, “Birches” and “The Gift Outright”, came to campus for readings, many of which were recorded on reel. -to-reel band.
“Robert Frost was a friend of Dean ‘Doc’ Redcay and used to visit him in the summer at Cumberland Head and lecture on campus while he was here,” said Dr Ron Davis , professor in the journalism program.
Davis said Frost gave readings in 1958 and 1959 which were recorded on reel-to-reel tape which were later deposited in special collections. Davis made his own copy of the Frost tapes for a poetry class he taught when he joined the faculty here. This decision was fortuitous because along the way, the originals disappeared.
“I had Tim Clukey (Professor of Communication Studies) digitize my reel-to-reel tape,” Davis said.
“The sound on the soundtrack had hisses and clicks and rose and fell in volume, but Tim reproduced the recording masterfully.”
Dr. Anna Battigelli, professor and holder of the chair of English, has wanted to do something with the iconic recordings since Davis told her about them some time ago.
“We talked about how to share it with the university community and beyond,” Battigelli said.
“I learned a long time ago what a great resource Ron is for students at SUNY Plattsburgh. In January, we agreed on a schedule for the event.
NOTES ON FREEZING
Throughout the semester, she and Davis shared notes about Frost, listening to the tape in hopes of creating a “good experience for everyone who joins us,” Battigelli said. “Ron also worked with journalism professor Jack Downs on editing the tape for audibility as well as with Tim Clukey. It takes a village; it’s a good village.
“As technical producer, Jack omitted unnecessary phrases from the audio, rearranged sections as needed for four themes we developed for playback, and merged the sections together,” Davis said.
“He will pause and restart audio during the session, check (Zoom) Chat for feedback or questions, and troubleshoot technical aspects of the program.”
PRESERVE THE CONNECTION
The 30-minute recorded reading experience will be split into three sections for the “Evening with Robert Frost” event.
“We’ll briefly introduce the section, listen to Frost, and then when all three sections are read, we’ll take questions from the audience,” Battigelli said.
“Frost chats with his audience, then launches into a poem, then chatters, and so on.
“It’s wonderful to hear his conversational voice in conjunction with his carefully crafted poems, which themselves produce such lively speaking voices. Frost was a great conversationalist. His readings were always “talks” in which he “said” poems.
“For him, creating a believable speaking voice in his poetry was most important. Ron has done the college a great service by identifying the tapes, preserving them, and making sure we have a record of our connection to one of America’s most famous poets.