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"Small World Sound makes poet's dreams come true"

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Article by Candyce Columbus, appearing in Sierra Madre Weekly, Sept 16, 2010.

By Candyce Columbus

Poet and songwriter Barry Schwam of Sierra Madre is putting his passion for verse and sound design to good use with his newest venture, Small World Sound. Dedicated to helping poets get their word out, literally, Schwam works with them in his home studio to record CDs of their work at an affordable price.

I think my mission is, “helping people’s dreams come true,” he says. “I know, that when I was a struggling poet, wanting my words and feelings to be heard, I wished there was someone who could understand my poetry, and what I was trying to say with it, without judgment. And then, help me take my poetry to the next level, by making it available to the world in a format that everyone could experience.”

According to Schwam today’s digital world and the internet have made this possible.

In the 1970s he began writing poetry “profusely, volumes and volumes.” But he stopped writing poetry in the early part of this century and began concentrating more on doing sound effects for theaters, as well as recording his own music.

He recalls, “I have been working with sound and old fashioned tape recorders ever since I was a young child.”

The more work Schwam did in the sound world the more proficient at recording techniques he became.

“Several years ago I decided to record a group of poets I knew, just for the experience of doing it. They met on a weekly basis and I thought it would be fun to record them. Their poems, though interesting enough, seemed a little redundant one after the other on a CD. So I thought I would try and enhance them a little, adding sound effects and music, altering their voices, etc. to fit the poem. I understood what they were trying to say as poets, because I was one.

“Add to that, my recording and producing talents, and I made what was a very unique CD: 12 different poets with each of their poems customized to make a nicely framed sound. All the poets loved the result.”

They named the CD “Perkins Ave. Poets” and put it up for sale on Amazon.com.

“I give poets their little edge of fame, by making their poetry CDs available world wide for purchase or download.”

After the group of Perkins Ave. poets was recorded Patrick Jeffries approached Schwam and asked if he would record him and make his dream of his own poetry CD come true. “He and I worked together for many, many hours, recording dozens of poems. The finished product, ‘Everything’s on Fire’ by Patrick Jeffries (available on Amazon.com) turned out to be the finest finished product I think I have ever done; including my own dozen or so music CDs.”

Jeffries says, “Barry has a sixth sense in his production. He listens and grasps what the poet is aiming to convey on a deep and metaphysical level. His sounds, with striking consistency, often enhance and compliment the voice he is working with. His music, his touch, often possess a flair for the heart thumping dramatic, knowing what fits with what; at times, he is quite effective in the sprinkling of comedic elements that can promote giggling and joy when needed.

“Above all, B. Schwam is broad, wise and experienced in creating a unity of work from gathering any number of poems. I highly recommend his services, in the exploration of any artist . . . in the context of their poetic journey.”

Northern California poet Anita Holzberg came down to Sierra Madre specifically to record her CD, “Enter In.”

“Barry is a great producer,” she enthuses. “He has the ability to modulate the sound, add an interesting mix of music to enhance the poetry, and is open to suggestions and changes. I flew down from Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley) to work with Barry, as he was highly recommended. His sound quality is so precise and my CD, said by many that heard it, is so professional.”

She continues, “In addition, to the CD, Barry did a fine job of graphics for the CD. He was very creative in the layout and design. He demonstrated again here how professional he is. Barry’s music really enhanced the poetry. It was a privilege to work with a producer who listened and followed through with his ability on all levels. My CD came out just wonderful in every way!”

Don Kingfisher Campbell, a poet Schwam has known for over 15 years, wanted to bring to life some of his more imaginative poems.

Schwam recalls, “I worked with him, and finding he had a great sense of humor, I took liberty to be a little more creative, making his poetry pop right out of the ‘poetic box,’ so-to-speak.”

“Recording with Barry Schwam is an entirely professional, creative experience,” Campbell explains. “His recording equipment is state-of-the-art . . . his coaching brings out the very best in your performance. It was a challenge to maintain his high standards, which are founded in a real enthusiasm and love for the spoken word.

“His post-production work is even more creative . . . producing the highest quality recordings featuring just the right embellishments to fit the moods and messages of one’s work . . . never overdone, just tasteful and conceptually brilliant. It was truly a collaboration between artists.”

Small World Sound services include: recording poets reciting their own poetry, enhancing the recordings with sound effects and/or music, creating graphics for the CD artwork based on the poet’s input, then uploading the CD master and all the graphics to Amazon.com so the CDs can manufactured–“made to order.”

Schwam can be reached via his website: www.smallworldsound.com or at 626-692-9306. Visitors to the site will be treated to samples of previously recorded poets reading their verse.