Poetic Voice

The subject of poetic voice has occupied my thoughts considerably of late.  I wonder about my own poetic voice, how it resonates with my readers, and how it has changed over the past ten years.

Late last night (or was it early this morning?) I happened upon today’s New York Times book review Wild Irish by Brad Leithauser featuring Seamus Heaney’s newest poetry collection, District and Circle.  This article focuses on Seamus Heaney’s poetic voice among other things, and its evolution throughout Heaney’s artistic career.

Amid the cacophony of cicadas outside, my thoughts drifted away from Leithauser’s well-crafted article, and back into my own self-indulgent ponderings: How does my poetic voice sound to others?  How has it grown and changed?  How can I improve it?

The subject of voice is by no means limited to poets.  Be they musicians, painters, buskers, programmers, dancers – all artists have some sort of distinguishable “voice” which emerges from their unique perceptions, interpretations, and renderings of thought and emotion.

Where is your voice?  How has your voice evolved over time?  How do you ensure that your voice emerges with its truest tones, melodies, and messages?


5 Responses to Poetic Voice

  1. pbsweeney says:

    Voice does not fair well in an environment where the truth of itself is not preserved. And I don’t think “voice” in poetry is necessarily achieved by everyone. It is, I think, the continual peeling away of all artifice and ego, wherein one sits at the feet of truth and is helpless before it.


  2. JLB says:

    Greetings PBSweeney, and welcome!

    I agree that finding our voice is a task not easily accomplished… I like the way you describe the process of finding ones voice as the continual peeling away of all artifice and ego. It’s a daunting prospect to say the least, and something which I feel is a life-long process.

    Thank you so much for visiting, and for sharing your thoughts! I hope you’ll join us again!


  3. Curt Stump says:

    Hi Jade, thanks for stopping by my site earlier – glad we’ve connected.

    I too wonder about the role of voice in poetry. I’ve seen a lot of poets who are trying to create successful poems at any cost – even at the expense of giving up their own voice if necessary. But that seems like a deal with the devil if you ask me. In my view, voice is the single most important factor in poets that I like – the authenticity, the allegiance to themselves that is often called voice.

    You probably didn’t see this post on my site yet but you might find it interesting and/or controversial regarding voice: http://www.stoneandplank.com/poetic-voice/

    I’ve got a busy summer coming up and have reduced my blog reading time but I’ll be checking in here.

  4. Curt Stump says:

    Or, do you go by JL? Sorry, we’ve only met, so I might have it wrong.

  5. JLB says:

    Greetings Curt! Thanks for visiting – no worries about the busy summer; I’ve seen a lot of bloggers disappear into the summer days!

    I love the way that you suggest voice as being the most important factor of good (subjectively speaking) poetry. I know that a true-to-self voice is what has drawn me to virtually all my favorite poets!

    Thank you for linking me to that post! I’ll be sure to check it out. Yesterday I briefly looked at the discussion on academic poets/poetry, so I’ll be back to take a closer look at them.

    As to your question, I’ll accept any of those appellations/handles. I’m really not too particular. JLB is fast and easy for me to type, so that’s what I use these days online – but really, unless you were to call me, “Hey, ya funny lookin’ bitch!” you can’t go wrong (and even then, I suppose you wouldn’t be too far off!) 😉

    Glad to have “virtually” met you, (and thanks to Caroline for pointing me to your blog),

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