Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience

Nic reads ‘How To Make A Raft’


This week the Voice Alpha gang is challenging itself to read a list poem – How To Make A Raft by Elisa Albo, a poem donated by the poet to Voice Alpha‘s list of poems for which the authors have given advance recording permission for Dear Voice Alpha, the VA reading advice program. Feel free to add your observations on the readings. If you would like to send in a reading of How To Make A Raft for Voice Alpha critique, email the MP3 to nic_sebastian at hotmail dot com.

All ‘Raft’ readings

Nic’s reading

Kristin’s comments
I have always said that I would listen to Nic read my grocery list or the phone book, so gorgeous is her voice. This reading doesn’t disappoint. I love the lilt when Nic says “bread.” I love the variety in the reading of the various lists in this poem, with various emphases, like the before-mentioned “bread.” It means that when there’s not much variety (like when she reads the things to sell or give away before leaving), we know that this list is less important.

Interesting way to read “Muy bien” at the end–almost a little dark.

Donna’s comments
Nic’s voice is so lovely – I like the short pause after the second “you’ll need” – like the speaker is thinking about what is necessary. Again, interesting how the sell/giveaway list moves more quickly. I love the way Nic says, “You’re free.” The “Muy bien” seems more like a resigned “very well” than a literal “very good.” Great reading, as always.

Dick’s comments
For me, this reading captures the musicality of the poem in a way that maybe the others, in their personalisation of the voice, locate less effectively. This is a function of Nic’s vocal qualities and characteristics and her judicious attention to pace and rhythm. As for that downbeat ‘muy bien’, I’m going to identify a sense of Old Country phlegmatic irony that comes part and parcel with Nic’s impeccable English accent!

Nic’s comments
My complaint with this reading is that there isn’t enough variety among the various lists – I think this poem would have rewarded more conscious preparation and active decisions about where to speed and slow down, instead of just letting one’s voice take imperatives from the text without thinking too much about it. I’m glad Kristin suggested this exercise – not an easy challenge but a very worthwhile one.

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.

2 thoughts on “Nic reads ‘How To Make A Raft’

  1. Nic’s reading breaks through the sound-sphere like a warning. Her reading carries a mystery with it, a gentleness that is nearly fearsome in that the directions for ending one life and beginning another are quite huge. Nic’s reading tells me to do it, and seems more of a directive than the other readings. An impassioned voice of inner consciousness. This is a wicked journey, despite the poetry. And then there is the music of her voice, like the wind that will lap the waves that carried the raft of all you are after you have let go of everything. That voice, like Zephyr blowing Venus to the shore of a new life.

  2. Thank you for the kind words, Brenda! As I said, I thought my reading lacked variety and could have benefited from more deliberate preparation of the various lists. A very useful exercise, in all..!

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