Voices on voice

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:47 pm by admin

Last evening I participated in a lively discussion online between members of my poetry forum. One of the things we discussed, there were many topics – some of which will not be repeated outside of that chat room, was poetic voice.

My dear friend Larina, editor of the online poetry journal The Externalist, led the discussion. I’ve always had difficulty putting into words my definition of poetic voice. It’s sort of like the well debated issue of, “Is it pornography or art, you know it when you see it,” or in this case read it or hear it. I recognize the voice of a poem, and I can now often hear the forum member author of a poem without seeing their name.


Among the explanations, definitions, and descriptions of poetic voice were the following comments:

A focus on sound or emotion.

Unique variations that occur consistently within a poets’ work that make that poet “stand out”, a combination of theme, style, technique, and tone.

A poet may find it difficult to recognize their own voice.

A poet often discovers their voice when they listen to someone else read their work

Personal philosophy comes into play, whether we view the universe as having any static components. Poetry is inherently a dynamic art, and style, a momentary vista in a kaleidoscope of emotion.

In life, if you let your perspective dilate, you can see that fine thread of continuity that is ever changing and yet unbroken. For those whom writing is inextricably intertwined with that thread, they are poets and have this kind of voice.

Voice is a personal style of a poet.

Each poet has a different concept of voice, what it is or not, what will inspire it, who has or doesn’t have it.

Voice is a combination of things that make poetry unique to a poet.

It is the totality of the poet.

It’s something really kind of ephemeral and hard to categorize.

There are many poetic voices, confessional, lyricist, narrative, experimental/avant-garde, langpo, accessible, difficult, etc., etc., etc.


So use your unique voice and write a poem.


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