Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience


2 Comments

‘How To Make A Raft’ read by Brenda Clews

Brenda Clews is a poet with a Mac who blogs at Rubies in Crystal. Here she reads the poem read by the Voice Alpha gang last week – How To Make A Raft by Elisa Albo, 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

Brenda’s reading:

Dick’s comments
All the other readings took the poem along at a fair old clip, driven by the sense that there was some sense of urgency behind the directions being issued. There’s an interesting dynamic to this slower pacing suggestive of the need for the information to be absorbed carefully. If one goes with the scenario of there being time on the side of the protagonists then, with its clarity of diction and its use of cadence, Brenda’s rendition works well and provides an alternative interpretation to that underpinning the other readings.

Kristin’s comments
I, too, liked the different quality of this reading. There was a brightness and a bounciness that somewhat undercut the serious subject matter of the poem. At first I found it jarring, but then I decided that it fit: one must have a sort of bright, almost childlike outlook/faith to attempt that passage on such a flimsy craft. At one point, my speakers started to split, so that one item on the list came through the right speaker, then the next item on the left, and so on–it made me wonder if one could do that on purpose and what the effect would be if a whole list poem was done that way.

Nic’s comments
Hi Brenda – thanks once again for sending in your reading! I found your voice pleasant to listen to and your diction very clear. As a matter of personal taste, I found your pace somewhat slow overall, especially at the beginning, but I enjoyed the variety of texture you presented among the various lists, using pace, volume and voice energy to differentiate. In all, there was perhaps a touch of a ‘dramatic children’s fairy-tale/story-telling’ atmosphere, but overall, I greatly enjoyed the energy and enjoyment you communicated very clearly in your reading.


2 Comments

Donna 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

Donna’s reading

Kristin’s comments
I like Donna’s strong voice, especially when she says, “To have had it up to here.” I like the almost plaintive sound when she says, “forever.” When she says, “If you make it,” the stress on the if reminds me of the hazardous nature of this trip. At first the echoey effect distracted me, but by the end, I almost decided that I liked it, that it was a nice effect. It may not have been done on purpose, but it works with the message of the poem, the tunneling effect of immigration.

Donna ‘s comments
The echo was unintentional – I forget to push the “no effects” button on Garageband, and this was my best reading, so I didn’t want to redo it!

Nic’s comments
Donna – I enjoyed your reading and thought you did the best job overall of differentiating between the various lists using pace, tone and volume. Your reading had good energy and good texture for me – I felt you jumped right into the poem and put it on in a brisk, no-nonsense sort of way and read it to us from the inside very convincingly. Nice job!!

Dick’s comments
I enjoyed the businesslike, practical, purposeful tone of the entire reading. And I’m with Nic on the differentiation between the lists. The only inconsistency for me is one that’s maybe more a function of the poem than the reading, namely, the urgency of the advice to retain papers and ‘phone numbers, which is then undercut by the gloomy prediction that they’ll all be lost at sea. There is in this a momentary denial of the positivity of the instructions and advice. I found this the trickiest bit to negotiate in my reading. It was indeed a challenging poem to read! All in all, I agree with Nic that Donna put in the most effective reading.


1 Comment

Dick 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

Dick’s reading

Kristin’s comments
I like the sorrowful tone that creeps in when Dick says words like “loss,” “lose,” and “sea.” I like the purposeful tone near the end with “When you build a raft”–each word has emphasis. I love the way Dick says, “If you make it, you’re free” — a tone of joy tinged with disbelief. Well done!

Donna’s comments
I love the idea of the ticking in the background -the metronomic effect mimics the rhythm of the list. The loss lines ARE very well-read – wistful – I like the increase of speed on the items to sell or give away – like they are in a hurry.

Nic’s comments
I thought you did a good job of trying to introduce variety using pace – enjoyed your reading of S3l1 particularly. Concur with Kristin and Donna that the loss lines in S5 and S6 were well read. ‘Don’t bleed, don’t think about’ section had a nice sense of urgent instruction and rang very well for me.


2 Comments

Dave 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

Dave’s reading

Kristin’s comments
I like the conversational style. I might have also liked a bit more variety in the reading of the lists, to let me know what the reader thinks is important. I like the warm way that Dave says “Your dog.” I like that the list of possessions to be sold or given away is read through with a bit of a rush–since to me, it’s the least important of these lists.

Donna’s comments
I had a hard time with the hard accent on the first syllable of “aspirin” – it threw me out of the warm conversational tone. And although I love the friendly tone, by the end there was not enough vocal variety for me to stay with the lists. I really like the speed (like in Dick’s reading) of the list to sell/give away.

Nic’s comments
I like the warm, casual, almost lazy tone of the first part – ‘a back door, a compass’ and ‘Aspirin, some honey’ struck me as particularly nice. The “take” list in S3 slowed a little too much for my liking, but I appreciated the effort to introduce differences in tone & pacing in this long list poem. Not an easy read!

Dick’s comments
I agree about the warmth of the reading, which for me provided supportive and personalised advice where urgency has tended to inform the other readings. The slight speed-up of the delivery of the list of items to be dumped reflected, for me, a sense of their absolute disposability at a time of such crisis. It’s the only moment in the reading in which any urgency seeps in – which, intentionally or not, lends an interesting counterpoint to the overall tone of the reading.


2 Comments

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.


2 Comments

Kristin 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.

Kristin’s reading

Kristin’s comments

Clearly I need better recording equipment–I’ve been using what came built in with the laptop.

Dick’s comments

No problem audio-wise for me. Clear as a bell. I like the businesslike tone here. This is advice and guidance delivered with authority. I might well take it! I like the quality of Kristin’s voice. The cool, dry tone brings a detachment and objectivity to the reading, which serves the value and importance of the information and advice.

Donna’s comments

The voice is very business-like and matter-of-fact, probably the most “instructional” reading of the bunch, as if directions were being read from a booklet. I like the way you changed the tone on “a sail, a symbol, a word.” The over-enunciation of “little” toward the end threw me a little, although I really liked the way the “don’ts” were pronounced.

Nic’s comments

I thought you had good energy in this reading, as well as clear diction & good breath control. It’s tough reading a list poem, especially one of this length, where the central challenge is to introduce enough variety of tone, energy and speed to make the various lists interesting. Probably a poem like this might reward more careful preparation than most, with active thought given to how one would read the different sections, combining changes in speed, tone and volume to introduce that variety. There could have been more variety in most of our readings (including my own), I think.

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