Thursday, June 01, 2006

VOICE

Reading anything aloud is a challenge for many of us. I think of my students and how brilliant they can be on the page--but, when asked to read to the class, they fumble words...mis-pronounce "the"...lose their place again and again. During my sophomore year of college, Spring semester (the one where I discovered Petunia Moon's existence)--I had a frustrating and mildew-laced old professor in tweed who sucked the life out of Shakespeare every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I dreaded his class...staggering in there bleary-eyed and often still up from the night before. But, the man gave us one disguised gift--he forced us to memorize and recite over one hundred lines of Shakespeare to share with the whole lecture hall (about 85 students). At the time, I wanted to kill him for brutalizing Shakespeare and forcing me to (ugh...) actually learn something. Then, at random moments--the Shakespeare vaults from my lips--still there these years later. Also, this immersion in Shakespeare out loud to my drowsy peers broke--once and for all--my fear of public speaking and reading to large groups. Ultimately, this skill has become my career as an adjunct professor at a local college--where my performances fall every Monday and Wednesday night...minus the tweed, the beard, and (I hope) the frustration.

Reading my own writing aloud remains another story altogether. I can recite all day long, unless I'm the one who generated the words...then it may as well be written in Latin--the dead language the nuns taught me in Catholic school for no logical reason I've yet to discover. So, when the poem of mine appearing in the We'Moon anthology: 2006: Love happened to be the one anchoring the book for the week (it was featured on the wall in March)--and Poetry Thursday dared folks to risk a read-aloud, I decided it was a sign.

I went in my room and shut the door as Boy-o and Rosie played in the kitchen with measuring cups of dried rice (Hey--I was desperate and they have a lot more fun with this than you might think, pouring into containers and the floor, scooping it up again...). Then I turned to page 96 and I dove in. The first line, I blew twice. Then I was lost on the word "unfurl"--it looked like a foreign language...I kept going until I was tired of hearing my voice and I could get through without messing up (or, only once). Then--I conjured up my old musty professor and took it with me to class last night. My students were my captive audience...we were actually reviewing an essay on aging, so I used my poem as a discussion leap-off point.

I took a risk last night and shared my words with them, and now again here--not to inundate the world with another twisted cliche, I nonetheless have to mention it anyway. Last night? I didn't miss one line...
Link

15 Comments:

Blogger bb said...

This links so much in to your last post: the budding, the flowering, the dying away.
This poem pulls me through the cycles of being, of caring, until I am left alone at the end on an icy precipice in a full golden light.
So beautiful, vast and important. Thank you.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Endment said...

I have no words other than - thank you!

11:44 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

Oh, I wish I could hear you read it. It is so good. Makes me remember that I need to stop and notice my children as they are. Thank you for sharing this.

And the line about your "mildew-laced" professor was perfect! LOL. Good image.

:)

12:07 PM  
Blogger January said...

Such a beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing the experience of reading aloud to your class. That much have been thrilling and scary at the same time.

12:12 PM  
Blogger jim said...

My goal is to become a mildew-laced professor, but that's just about me.

When I read this aloud, it left me breathy and full, and to say, "pulse-print," that alone was a gift.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Kim G. said...

Oh C. - I love this part -
"The children will unfurl new growth with everyday--every pulseprint.
Think of this when they are knobby and awkward. They are changing.
Always."

As the parent of a "tween" that seems to morph emotionally each day into either a lovely friend or a bitter rival, these words speak volumes to my heart. I need to remember the "turning" and that I need to love her through it. Thanks so much for sharing this!

6:19 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I'm sure i have better words in my vocabulary pocket, but the word that is in my head is - wow. that was a poem to be treasured, thank you for sharing it with us, and like Amber i would have loved to hear you read it - maybe one day...
Sx

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Jeannine said...

I'm glad you took the risk to share both here, and in your class. Beautiful! (I love the idea of trees pressing against the sky ...)

9:54 PM  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

beautiful poem; a lot to think about...

11:10 PM  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Your Shakespeare professor sounds like a horror (I love your words "mildew-laced", inspiring me to promptly put mildew on my current list of evocative words) but reading aloud is SO essential with Shakespeare. I performed in two plays in college (Cymbeline and As You Like It) and it was AMAZING how much fuller an understanding I had of those than the others from the repeated hearings. And it is so luscious to speak those words. I always read my own writing aloud to myself too, in secret, to make sure I've got the cadences right.

2:27 AM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Wow! What an amazing poem! Well done. Thanks for sharing your creation and the story about reading to your class - and the "mildew-laced" professor. I think many of us had one of those. :)

2:51 AM  
Blogger abhay k said...

Beautiful!
loved the last line " you gave everything and now love yourself"
Thanks for sharing..

9:58 AM  
Blogger art and soul said...

Thank-you for sharing your articles on your links list. I just read your article in Mothering.com and i loved what you said. i can only hope that i have expressed that feeling of sentiment to my three!

"in Today's art session is a study in sketching and shadow. Caila sits in our office with pencils and erasers, darkening her fingertips with graphite. A still-life, a composition motif, a joyful cry, "I have made the most incredible masterpiece!"

She bounds across the room arms outstretched, eyes alight with discovery, artist heart bleeding empty. I put my pen down, and juggle the baby onto my other hip. I look at her, her brother's blue eyes, and my journal lying open on the kitchen table. I answer her honestly, as always, "So have I."

8:11 PM  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

i would love to hear you read this aloud as well.

what a beautiful, meaningful, rich poem.

thank you for sharing it with us, you brave, beautiful you!

xo,
boho

4:23 PM  
Blogger Bella Sultane said...

Your writing often takes my breath away. Just beautiful!

7:59 PM  

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