Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kerry Says ~ Let's Find Our Poetic Voice

Poetic Voice, also known as the speaker, or persona (Latin for mask), refers to the voice that speaks a poem. This speaker is not usually identical to the author who writes the poem. The author may assume a role, or counterfeit the speech of a person in a particular situation.

Eating Poetry - Eating Words - Poet Poem
Artist Unknown
(No Infringement of Copyright Intended)

Last month, my close friend, Jay gave me the gift of books for my birthday, one of which is 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Tapscott. While reading Tapscott's Translator's Note, the following passage caught my eye and gave me the idea for today's challenge:

"Neruda's particular innovation is his use of voice, in sound and in syntax, as the force that binds lines and stanzas into integrated wholes. The delicate adhesive force of the voice, that sense of organic information, like the sound of the woods, is what an English version of these poems risks losing; not as much would be lost in terms of traditional "form" as might appear at first glance." [100 Love Sonnets, 2014 Edition, University of Texas Press, page ix]

Before I continue, I want to stress that this challenge is not to emulate Neruda's form, style or voice, but to work with our own unique poetic voices. The following page entitled Speaker & Voice might help us to focus on a few key factors:

  • Who “tells” the poem? 
  • Are there things you can say about the speaker’s personality, point of view, tone, society, age, or gender? Does the speaker assume a persona at any point in the poem, and speak “as” a particular person (e.g., “I am Lazarus, come from the dead . . . I shall tell you all”)? 
  • Does the speaker seem attached or detached from what is said? 
  • What effect do the speaker’s characteristics have on the poem?
The poet should also take into account who is being addressed in the poem. This could also be an imagined persona, or someone known to the writer. Over and above the intimacy between speaker and addressee, is the audience (everyone else who will read the poem) and the poet must find the connection to the unknown reader by creating common experience. The following page from may offer further insights.

This challenge is posted on Thursday but runs through to noon on Saturday, so please feel free to take your time in composing a poem and adding it to the links below. The subject, theme, form etc is wide open.


Maude Lynn said...

I gave it a shot, Kerry!

hedgewitch said...

Really an amazing poem by Neruda, and a fine example of all he did so well, and so personally, with words. I think there is a very subtle line between 'voice' and 'style,' also, that is where a poem crosses from the mundane to the meaningful, using some of the techniques and factors you discuss here. Thank you Kerry for as always stimulating that part of my brain that loves words.

Outlawyer said...

Kerry--this is such a cool prompt and your article is so wonderful. Thanks. k.

Margaret said...

just under the wire... I'm in the midst of putting our house up for sale (again) and am trying to participate here as much as possible. Also I have four kids spending summer elsewhere - Hilton Head, Savannah, and two in NYC. I am trying to visit these lovely places as much as possible! :)

Marian said...

Well, this is a really lovely prompt! I don't know what I'm doing, or whether I responded appropriately, but here it is. :)

Hannah said...

A wealth of great keys for this voice-finding, Kerry...thank you, for the challenge!! :)

Anonymous said...

all i have are the weekends at a computer, but i do enjoy all your voices