Saturday, 5 December 2009

Voices Raised

I want to return to the matter of voice and to Eavan Boland's comments on her use of traditional poetic form. Boland says that her poetic maturity enables her to begin to, 'dissolve all the borrowed voices of [her] apprenticeship.' I am very curious to know how these borrowed voices dissolve into the authentic voice. What happens to our earlier voices while we're waiting for the borrowed ones to dissolve? Do our new ones sit on top somehow, while our older voices lurk beneath, muttering in the gloom?

I rather like this idea and it chimes with an experience I had recently, when I used the word, 'chuck' in a poem. I was exhilarated by it, it felt irreverent, almost as if I was also chucking the poem away. Writing the word made me feel lighter, younger, more vital, and I was glad to let it escape from me.

Apprentice writers are all in search of our authentic voices. It seems to be a case of moving back and forwards at once. We write as much as possible, in order to free ourselves and let something natural come through, but we also read and consume other writing, trying on other voices, hoping to learn from them, and we listen to conversations to learn the way people speak. All these voices we try to assimilate, and at the same time, there's still our own voice to find, to keep to.

I am still an apprentice poet. There's so much I don't know and I have spent so many years hiding from traditional form that I now have a lot of catching up to do. For the moment, I've set my Prologue aside and will look at it again in a few days, once I've gained some distance from it. I did begin to absorb its iambic pentameter though, and found that a few lines came already formed. Perhaps I am slowly adding a new iambic stratum to my voices.

No comments:

Post a Comment