Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience

losing your voice


A moving meditation on voice from Christopher Hitchens who, defining himself by his voice, is losing his voice to throat cancer.

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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 “losing your voice

  1. I can’t imagine.

    As he’s losing his voice, he certainly hasn’t lost his voice in the literary sense. And the tone is wonderful — not light, exactly, but serious and in love with life, intellect, and words.

  2. Moving and full of insights available only to those whose ‘rage de vivre’ flares most brightly close to the end.

  3. A wonderful essay, and I was just listening to Leonard Cohen yesterday, so it struck that chord, so to speak. It is good to hear the gravel in Cohen’s own renderings of his songs, but it might be a comfort (someday) to Hitchens that other voices, even the smooth and pure, carry forward the meaning and emotion of Cohen’s words even without the gravel. A thrilling weaving of word, voice, sound, song, etc. through time.

    I was pleased to read his advice to students to read their essays aloud as part of the composition process, and also that he likes it when people feel “personally addressed” by his essays. What a thing he’s going through….

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