Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Listening to yourself is not always fun

I remember the first time I heard a recording of my voice: I couldn't believe that was me. (I still don't.) But I've learned a couple of things.

1. Hearing your poems gives an entirely different and very valuable take on them

2. Reading them aloud and hearing them are essential exercises during revision

When the poem breaks down in the reading it probably breaks down in the meaning as well. Keep this in mind. One of the things I see is that the music of poetry is often neglected. Remember, it should sound nice. Poems are meant to be heard. The sound and the meaning should inform each other in a symbiotic relationship. Often you can identify where this relationship breaks down by hearing your poem read by another.

Hate those text-to-voice voices? So do I. However, use them. We cannot always find someone to read our poems to us and, frankly, we shouldn't want to. Voice to text programs are freely available online. I use Text2Speech and there are certainly other more sophisticated ones available, some requiring download. Text2Speech has a 5,000 character limit which is pretty generous.

Despite the machine-like quality of the voices, you can listen for those points at which the flow breaks down, weakens; and you may then check the poem for similar thematic weaknesses that may want attention.

So, listen to yourself if you can. This will help your readings. Also, listen to your words spoken by another person (a valuable asset of workshops) or by a machine. In any event the result will be a better poem.

So long for now.

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