Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience


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thanks for reading other people’s poems!

We have added a new page to acknowledge our volunteer readers at The Poetry Storehouse. This is to gratefully acknowledge those who volunteer to provide audio for poems other than their own.

Every recording up there increases a poem’s chance of being remixed. More than one reading for a single poem is even better, in that it gives the remixer more material to choose from, since different voices and reading styles resonate differently with each remixer. And even where audio is not used in a remix, it plays a valuable role in adding depth to a remixer’s engagement with a piece.

If you would like to volunteer to read at The Poetry Storehouse, leave a comment below, email nic_sebastian at hotmail dot com, or just go ahead and pick a poem, make your recording and send it to Nic. Tips on getting started with audio recording here.


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Librivox – ‘acoustical liberation of books in the public domain’

Who says community service can’t be fun? After way too much procrastination, I have finally signed up to be a volunteer reader at Librivox, where the goal is to make audio versions of public domain books freely available. It’s quite a process. You have to make and upload a one-minute audio test which meets certain technical requirements and get it cleared by a Librivox administrator. Then they ask that before you try any solo reading you participate in some group readings to get a sense of how things work.

My brand-new Librivox page has two readings on it so far – one a ‘poem of the week’ contribution (they do a group read of one poem a week) and the other, a 1000-word segment of Giacomo Leopardi’s Complete Works, in translation. The latter is a small part of a much bigger group reading and won’t be available for general listening until the entire book is complete, in case you’re wondering. Both selections were totally random (although I do have a soft spot for Leopardi after making a videopoem based on one of his pieces way back when) and were based simply on what was up for grabs when I happened to be looking for something to read.

Now that my Helen in Egypt project is complete, I am looking for the next extended-reading poetry project, and will do it via Librivox. The question is, which public domain book of poetry should I go for? ‘Some Imagist Poets‘ caught my eye up at Project Gutenberg, mainly because it has Amy Lowell and H.D. in it. No idea who the others are, though, apart from Lawrence.

(cross-posted at Very Like A Whale)


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“Stop using ‘Poet Voice'”

Maybe the poet is the great Louise Glück or the former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. Maybe the poet is a close friend. Whoever it is, that person has just slipped into Poet Voice, ruining everybody’s evening and their own poetry because now the audience has to spend a lot of intellectual and emotional energy trying to understand the words of the poem through a thick cloud of oratorical perfume.

Full article by Rich Smith here.

Lol. Don’t disagree with what he is saying, but my pet peeve remains the end of line note. Which sometimes, but not always, comes along with other characteristics described in the article.


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Really? Poetry audio for sale – $1.53 per poem download

Being generally against attempts to insert commerce and/or a profit motive into poetry, I’m not at all a fan of this idea. You can listen online for free, but downloading will cost you 89p (or $1.53) per poem, while an ‘album’ seems to be going for £9.99 (or $17.14). More expensive than many current music hits on iTunes. Is anyone buying, I wonder…?

Sir Andrew Motion launches iTunes-style site for poetry

Former [UK] poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion has launched an iTunes-style website for poetry featuring a host of famous names reading their favourite verse.

More than 1,600 different recordings of work by hundreds of writers can be listened to for free or downloaded to keep for a fee from the Poetry Archive.

Recordings include Spike Milligan reading The Land Of The Bumbly Boo and war poet Siegfried Sassoon’s The Dug Out as well as contemporary figures including Carol Ann Duffy.

There is also a section including work by authors who died before the invention of recording equipment featuring actors such as Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Kenneth Branagh reading their favourite poems.

Among the recordings are Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe reading a Shakespeare sonnet and The Hour star Romola Garai reading Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach

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