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How to convey the sense of a poem


Using the right voice when reading poems
WD Snodgrass Poet
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You know, when I first started teaching this, I had it sort of half theatre people and half literary people. And that was a wonderful mix. I… I loved that. But an awful lot of them, especially the theatre people, were looking for what we used to call a Marvin Mellowbell voice. And… and that's ruinous… a voice that has too much gorgeousness in itself. That's the voice in which you sell people refrigerators, and you don't want that. What you want is the greatest variety possible. I… I must say that the… the actors that I most admire have both a… a sort of chest voice and… they… it's like they have two voices at once, and… or… or two sounds that… that are happening at once. And, and one is face… facial voice. The other one is the one that's… that is in the chest and has them both geared together. But the one that really counts is the one up here. That's the one that's going to make people understand what you're saying.

American poet WD Snodgrass, entered the world of poetry with a bang winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle. A backlash followed his controversial fifth anthology “The Fuehrer Bunker”, but in recent years these poems have been reassessed and their importance recognised.

Listeners: William B. Patrick

William B. Patrick is a writer and poet who lives in Troy, New York. Among his work are the poetry volumes "We Didn't Come Here for This" and "These Upraised Hands", the novel "Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family" and the plays "Rescue" and "Rachel's Dinner". His most recent work is the non-fiction book "Saving Troy", based on the year he spent following the Troy Fire Department.

Mr. Patrick has been Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute and has taught at Old Dominion University, Onondaga Community College, and Salem State College, and workshops in Screenwriting and Playwriting at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. He has received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Tags: Marvin Mellowbell

Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008