Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience

‘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.

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 “‘How To Make A Raft’ read by Brenda Clews

  1. Thank you for your gracious comments, Dick, Kristen, and Nic – way kinder than I think this reading deserves. Somehow, since installing Garageband ’11, the filters have undergone metamorphosis, and after this recording I realize I must re-install (I did spend hours one night trying to find a way to re-set the filters to their factory settings to no avail). Still, I thought I had the transmitted sound under control, but this reading shows otherwise.

    Yes, I did pan phrases in this reading, Kristin, but that’s usually buried in the final mix. And then I left it in when I realized it was still there because it gave a kind of sea-rocking motion, like being on the raft which contains your everything as you forge ahead into a new life.

    The reading is rather slow, Dick, and yet, smiling here, I actually speeded up the original reading, if you can believe it. This version is about 30 seconds shorter.

    Thank you, Nic. That ‘incantatory’ rhythm, if that’s what you might be referring to, is a product of my yoga teaching days and I haven’t managed to dismantle it, or even dislodge it successfully. I agree with you -on the fairy-tale sense- and perhaps will manage to overcome it at some point, though presently I’m at the point of working with it, accepting it. :)

    I have to admit I experienced some anxiety submitting a piece to Voice Alpha -such careful listening, such honest critique- and am very grateful for your responses.

  2. Thanks for being such a good sport, Brenda. Very much appreciated your participation in this exercise!

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