The idea for this project came to me when I learnt of Andrew Motion’s initiative to create an archive for what I call “posh poets” and I thought “why not have one for all poets” and thePoetic Voices site was born.
I think it has about 40 poets at present and, naturally, I would like more; so poets please email me your recordings! If you click here, you are diverted to the page in which I gave some simple advice about this.
For me, a poem comes alive when voiced, particularly by the author and especially if the poem is being read to an audience as there is then interaction between, poem, poet and audience; the poem changes and the poet gets a sense of how the poem is being received which is helpful.
Here is me reading at an Enfield Poets’ evening in November 2019 at the Dugdale Centre; now closed as a culture and community centre by the council!!!
We do have an audience! Usually 20 to 25 but can be up to 40. The two photos below show the front row and whilst I was setting up.
Though sometimes they can express disapproval.
Last year, poet and artist Giovanna Iorio contacted me about her site Poetry Sound Library which is a sound archive for poetry and the recording can be any one reading any poem. It also has a fabulous map showing where the poets are. During one conversation, Giovanna told me how important the sound of someone’s voice is to her and that it is sad how quickly we can forget what someone sounds like, I agree, someone’s voice is so much part of who they are. Another reason why sound archives are so important.
If you would like to submit poems to be included or if you know of anyone who would like to have a page on the Poetic Voices site please click here.
I grew up in a post-war, lower middle class family. We came to Enfield in 1947 as my father had secured employment here after being de-mobbed from the Royal Navy. Thinking back, as I do from time-to-time, some memories glowed more strongly than others and the idea for the poem Ten Things I Learned Before I was Fourteen was born. In the first stanza I am feeling happy and proud that Bill was taking me seriously. He features in The Collection Reek of Alchemy in Elegy to Brimsdown Plating and was patient, kind and gentle though his favoured pastime was to take up the challenge in fairground boxing booths and always win! We moved in 1954 and my feelings changed from happiness and involvement to a stoic loneliness and finally disillusionment. So a poem that shares my feelings and, at the same time, a family history.
A couple of days ago a friend asked me if I found it difficult to post my poems on the web as they often deal with personal experiences. Her question reminded me of a great quote I read, from a conference or seminar on the meaning of art. A questioner asked “what does art do that science and other disciplines don’t do?” “Teaches us to feel” was the immediate and brilliant answer, It was not a sound bite it has too much depth and gravitas so it is a quote. I would add it also teaches us to share our feelings. If you view my photo of a falcon on the images page I hope that you can share the thrill and wonder I felt when I saw the bird uttering voice. It was magnificent. I had to wait to get the shot but it is how I felt at the time. It is the same with my poems, I write and post them because I want readers to share my experience and feel how I did. They are, of course, often a family history which is important for different reasons. Poems that are imagined, not from personal experience also inevitably hold my feelings. The poem Rosesis an example. My mind roams from hearing a gardener’s diatribe about the difficulty of nurturing roses to Greek myth and the violent birth of a rose through rape. The answer to my friend’s question is that when I first starting writing I was nervous of exposing myself but soon realised that most people are kind and generous and interested in what is being written. It is also interesting to me to hear of others experiences and feelings, another worthwhile reason to do it.