Voice in multiple voices

Writers VoiceOnce a year I read Al Alvarez‘s The Writer’s Voice. I do this because in the second half of the year I teach a class in long form journalism to media studies honours and final-year BJourn students and it’s one of the few books available that actually talk about voice in writing. Alvarez thinks about what voice is and why it matters for writing, writers, reading and readers. So I go back to it again and again to take students through this part of the course. This year I thought I’d jot down my notes on what Alvarez has to say because the rereading always provokes me to think differently about what he says.

This time around what caught my attention was that reading is so very much a listening (and this feeds into my research interests in voice and listening — see my work on academia.edu and at the mediaandcitizenship blog). One really does hear a voice in one’s head when reading and what that voice sounds like — “its presence on the page” — is a quality that is more than the story being told. It might be voice that keeps one bonded to a particular author and not just extraordinary writing ability, technique or style (all of which Alvarez is clear are not quite the voice). Continue reading “Voice in multiple voices”

Me Anthea, You Jane

Unedited JR onlyTwo days before Jane Raphaely arrived at the Eden Grove Blue lecture theatre to give her “free thinking” talk for Think!Fest, I encountered two academic friends grabbing a coffee. Well, they said, how do you think it will go, what will she say, and will she get a crowd? They looked at me quizzically: Who invited her? I did of course, I’ve had a long-standing relationship with Jane since my mother first began reading Fairlady in the 1960s, thereby making me an eavesdropper on the world of women’s magazines. I got my first whiff of feminism via my mother’s reading about Germaine Greer and Gloria Steinem (and the overheard conversations she then had with her female friends); I got my only real sexual advice from Fairlady (what a bizarre time the 60s were, sex was everywhere for some and nowhere for others); and it subliminally made me want to be not just a writer but a magazine editor (which eventually, I became, but nothing quite like the editor I had in mind in those days). Continue reading “Me Anthea, You Jane”

Doing poetry with Carole Langille

Carole LangilleDoing poetry with Carole Langille is like slipping into honey — warm, viscous, strong, intense, and very,very productive.

This morning, just as the National Arts Festival got going, about 10 of us (among whose company are both published poets and those of us who have finally got up the courage to call ourselves poets) gathered in the St Peter’s building on Rhodes campus to expose ourselves to a poet none of us knew very well, but who’s visiting Grahamstown. Continue reading “Doing poetry with Carole Langille”