Actor Juliet Stevenson reads A seedy narrative or moments of lyrical stillness?, a poem by Rosie Shepperd. Poem text here. You will recall the flap last year over having actors read the winning poems for the Forward Prize, instead of the poets themselves. I don’t care who reads poems as long as they read them well (but note that the mere fact of having written a poem bestows no automatic reading-aloud-for-an-audience ability) and think Stevenson does a great job here:
Nice voice, nice simple reading:
Hold That Thought by Zack Finch
(This is a recent posting from her own blog by Rose Hunter, reproduced here with permission. PS: We think Rose is too hard on herself – we like her straightforward reading style…)
That was an interesting thing, firstly to find a time here without heavy construction, trucks cars and dogs, TV or blasting music. Solution: 7 am Sunday morning.
So I did those. I am not a great reader of my own work, is my perception, although I like these recordings better than other recordings that I’ve done. I hate all my old recordings. Well I think I was trying too hard and being too fussy. (See previous posts re discussion of hating everything I’ve ever done, also.) I have a lot of stage fright, and turning on my laptop microphone by myself, in my pajamas, constitutes a stage in my mind. I’ve tried to read my poems in front of people once that I remember (unless I’ve blocked any other demoralising instances out) – that was last year, and it did not go well. There were about eight people there and I felt like I was dying of embarrassment. I vowed never to put myself (or anyone else) through that again. So that’s how that is.
My theory is that this goes back to having problems learning to read as a kid. Well, maybe not learning to read per se, but learning to read anything out loud. My mother home schooled me during that time and it got a bit ugly. I’m not blaming her, I’m just remembering how it felt. In any case I developed a phobia of reading out loud. At school I’d freeze up, turn beet red, mumble so hardly anyone could hear me, mix up all the words anyway, and think: “I am so stupid I am so stupid,” and feel like crying. Which I’d try to wait until later to do, so as not to create (more of) a spectacle. I took beta blockers to get through tutorial presentations at university. They didn’t help much. Anything like that has always been hell for me.
Maybe that’s strange for a poetry writer. Or maybe not; maybe it’s one of the reasons I write poetry. To claim my own voice, at least when I’m on my own, at my desk, writing, and reading them aloud to myself at that point, often. I think my poems as they are on the page are mostly strongly voiced, and much bolder than I am in life. When I read them for others, something different happens. I think. You know. It’s pretty hard to see your own work sometimes, at least for some of us, it’s kind of impossible.
Read the full blog post here.
Love this reading by Frank O’Hara (begins about 20 seconds into the clip). He inhabits the poem and then just reads it, straightforwardly, without any ‘Ahem, I’m reading a poem’ hoop-la in his voice.
At the Missouri Review:
Poets are encouraged to enter an original poem or collection of poems as a single audio file for this category.
Judging will be based on the following criteria: literary merit, technical proficiency, and how the author uses audio media to further the literary strength of his or her piece.
Time: 15 minutes or less.
First Prize: $1,000
You can listen to last year’s winner, Laurel Bastian, read the winning entry here. (She starts reading at about 1 min 38 secs in). Excellent reading.
The ‘Windhover’ read-a-thon now has its own Voice Alpha page – please go here for all ‘Windhover’ content and readings.