Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience

Nic reads ‘Wonder Woman’


This week the Voice Alpha gang is reading Wonder Woman, the poem donated by Collin Kelley to Voice Alpha‘s list of poems for which the authors have given readers permission in advance to record for Dear Voice Alpha, the VA reading advice program. We’ll end the week with a Voice Alpha critique of a reading of the poem by the poet himself. Feel free to add your observations on the readings to the comments. If you would like to send in a reading of Wonder Woman for Voice Alpha critique, email the MP3 to nic_sebastian at hotmail dot com.

All Voice Alpha readings of ‘Wonder Woman.’

Nic’s reading

Donna’s comments

I thought that Nic’s reading was very conversational. as if she was an old friend telling a story just to me, and I liked that approach. All of the words that were stressed were done so naturally, without artifice, something I (and evidently Dave) struggled with when approaching the poem.

It’s hard to critique Nic’s reading, as she approaches each poem so carefully. But… if anything was lacking, I felt that the humor/light touch of the poem was absent – although the subject matter is partially about the disappointment of the father, there is affection there for the man who spray-painted the rope and let himself be lassoed. I heard the disappointment but not the affection, except maybe in the phrasing of “poor dad.”

Carolee’s comments

I like the pace of this and I love how this opens — there is something in the tone of your voice, Nic, in those first lines about setting off alarms, that sounds somewhat foreboding.

I liked hearing that very much because the piece is about the father and the line he tries to walk between affection and embarrassment (shame? fear?). Your reading of those opening lines set up that teetering for me — how we aren’t sure how anyone will end up handling this in the end. It also sets up an awareness about the seriousness of what is in the lines. It made me aware that the frame (the wonder, the superhero, the glitter) of this poem surrounds a really serious question. Thank you for that.

Because I was aware of it, I struggled a bit with this reading in places because the inflection seemed a bit cheery (I apologize if it’s just me ascribing cheer because of the lovely accent) in spots where I wanted to hear again the daunting tone from the opening. A couple of examples: “the golden eagle oddly deflated” and “if the rope could have squeezed out an ounce.”

Kristin’s comments

As always, I love Nic’s voice, the beautiful accent–no squeakiness or creaking of any kind. I like the way the tone was somber at first, and a bit more animated as the poem went along. I like the stress of “sunken” chest and “deflated.”

I thought there was an unnatural pause at the end between “Wonder Woman’s” and “invisible.” A small quibble.

Overall, a wonderful rendition!

Dave’s comments

I wanted the kind of expression present in the last quarter of the poem, beginning with “If the rope could’ve squeezed out an ounce of what he was really thinking,” all the way through. Although it’s difficult to criticize so fine a reading, when I compare the rest of it with those last few lines, I do feel you missed a number of opportunities to vary tone and stress. The humor of this poem ends up seeming somewhat submerged by the delivery.

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Author: Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

4 thoughts on “Nic reads ‘Wonder Woman’

  1. Thanks for the very helpful feedback, guys. I particularly agree with Donna and Dave on the failure to bring out the humorous side of the piece. I really loved that aspect of Donna’s reading and agree it is missing here. Beyond that, much food for thought in all your comments. I try to define and articulate at least one clear lesson either learned or to be learned every time I do a reading, and here are a whole bunch for the asking! Thank-you!

  2. As I said on FB, I think it’s a melancholy reading, but that gives the poem a whole new feel. I like it.

  3. i have listened to several poems read by Nic. i am sorry to say i do not enjoy her approach. It seems to me she uses the same intonation and mood with every reading rather than changing tones and inflections to reflect the mood, theme or meaning of different poems.

    • Hey Vicki – Thanks so much for taking the time to listen to all the readings and give such thoughtful feedback. Glad to hear and interested in your perspective on my reading style. Complacency is what we should all fear most and it’s always good to hear what keeps us from it! Best, Nic

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