Voice Alpha

on reading poetry aloud for an audience


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famous poets using ‘poet voice’

Another article on ‘poet voice’ and another one. Neither are new, just capturing for the record. Also for the record, two famous poets using ‘poet voice':

Natasha Trethewey (skip to 12:40):


 

Louise Gluck (skip to 1:00):

At the end of the day, I suppose it shouldn’t matter, really. I guess what makes me somewhat anxious is the fact that these are big-time role models for the rest of us, and I wonder if they consciously intend it – do they say to themselves, I use ‘poet voice’ in my public readings and you know what, I’m fine with that?

Or do they just not know?

Update: Lots of commentary on Facebook at this link


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“Call for poet voice”

This intriguing call dates from March 2014 at Sound Literary Magazine – haven’t found yet where/if results have been published, but would be curious to see them.

Yes, we want to hear your idea of poet voice.

To submit, please choose a poem (your own or someone else’s) and record a video of yourself reading it twice:

1. First with poet voice
2. Then in the voice you think it’s best communicated in

They then link to a video of a volunteer demonstrating a double-aspect submission. I actually don’t think she did badly in both cases, mainly because she avoids the trap of the end of line note


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voice as organ of investigation

“.. to say the words over and over and then to hear yourself say them [..] is to go farther into the poem than you might have imagined was possible. Suddenly, you start to see the things between the lines and letters. Sometimes, you stop in your tracks mid-read and realize you have to start over.”

[..]

“.. with each subsequent reading, I found myself feeling the poems more as the speaker rather than an outside reader. I suppose it must be a bit like this for an actor learning a character, moving from reader to this other self that exists in the lines of the poem.

I don’t know if this is how poetry reading should be done, but it makes sense to me to think of a poem as something that is said or told as if letting the audience in on some secret rather than recited or pronounced (in the sense of pronouncement). When I read to my students, this approach seems to work best for them. They actually listen.

The best thing about this is that by the end, when I sit back and listen, I feel like I’ve come to understand the poem in a way I hadn’t before. As if now, I’ve really walked that mile in the other’s shoes.”

James Brush recently joined the ranks of volunteer readers for The Poetry Storehouse and blogged about his experience here. His experience with preparing and reading poetry aloud for an audience tracks exactly with mine. The voice truly is an organ of investigation, and one that brings you information about what you are reading that is not otherwise available to you. I think it’s related to putting the poem into the body, as it were, and making it a physical, bodily experience.

Listen to James’s Storehouse readings here and see information about all Storehouse readers here.

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