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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Finding One's Voice

Ron Padgett has a facetious poem about the idea of the poet's "voice." He hears people talking about finding their voice and wonders if they have literally lost their voice. Where is it? etc... Funny poem.

Anyway, I've often disliked my speaking and singing voices, but my friend Bob Basil recently commented to me that he liked both: I had sent him a homemade recording of a song I wrote called "Cloudless Night." Anyway, this comment made me want to embrace my two voices rather than dismiss them. I can more confidently speak and sing now because I have an outside perspective. Of course, Bob might think I'm better than I really am in many respects because he is my friend, but that doesn't really matter. Isn't that one thing, one of the major things, a friend is for, to like one's uniqueness?

And actually the idea of not liking one's voice played back from outside one's own head is almost universal. Who likes their own voice? It is only by listening to it and tweaking it from outside that one can even embrace it unapologetically, as I am trying to do, partly by taking voice lessons.

One's writing "voice," in the metaphorical sense that Padgett was making fun of, is also a real thing to be cultivated. I think my writing sounds like me in its exact balance of earnestness and facetiousness. In one sense voice is exactly what writing doesn't ever have, but in the metaphorical sense it is exactly what writing needs. Voiceless writing is crap.

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