Sunday, 3 February 2008

About speaking


There are periods when I am too tired to speak. It’s made me aware that speaking is a twofold effort – mental and physical. Real fatigue not only muddles and slows down one’s thought processes or at worst all but extinguishes them, but transforms every tiny action into an arduous mission. When I’m at my most poorly, and thank goodness these severe periods have become rarer and shorter, forging clear chains of thought and transforming them into comprehensible and meaningful sounds is on the far side of possible. In the extended enforced silence my own voice becomes strange to me. I have become unsure and self-conscious about speaking (up) and often think I’m speaking too loud, even though friends assure me that I’m not.
To get used to hearing myself speaking again, to make it normal to myself, I have started to read poetry aloud. Had a lovely experience with my current favourite, Louise Glück’s Snowdrops, which I tried to learn by heart. Initially my voice sounded feeble and monotonous and seemed to diminuish the power of the poem but I read the words again and again and again. In time making friends with the poem’s rhythms helped unfold layers of meaning that had escaped me before. I could feel my throat unclenching and my voice becoming full and resonant, until I finally seemed to embody what I read and cried ‘yes risk joy’ with such a burst of emotion, of pleasure, exhilaration and real bliss, as if it/the poem/the words had come out of me naturally.

6 comments:

Deborah Barlow said...

I just found your blog, and it is chock full of such fascinating and compelling posts. And any visual artist who also loves Louise Gluck is my kind of human. Thanks, I'll be back regularly.

Kruse said...

I am very interested in language/speech/writing as it impacts on my art and on me. I often struggle to speak or remember words as a consequence of my hypothyroidism. Other times I know that my speaking and writing it too much, too full-on. (my rants on my blog, for instance). I am also interested how contemporary artists are compelled to speak and write about their work almost constantly, in catalogues, interviews, statements, etc.
I am beginning to explore speech and language as part of my art work. How can I be silent? Is silence passive aggressive? Is it allowing space for something else? Is silence yin to speech yang? Can I tell my work through pictures, lists, titles, symbols rather than through the statement? How can I be creative and aware with my speaking and writing?
It is interesting that you chose a very creative act, reading poetry, to get your voice back. Do you know about the Chakras? It is interesting to read some theories about the throat chakra. Chanting, vocalising and singing are also supposed to be good.

cally said...

Hi Marjojo,
I did a reply to you on my comments page re. drawing with M.E.

This post about speech resonates. On bad days it's so hard to talk, or even to listen, but then when I do speak it sounds like someone else, it comes from the throat not the lungs in bursts. It's strange because I'm normally a person who talks to the pets, the plants, and pretty much anything that I am interacting with! I miss singing, I used to sing, or at least hum, nearly all the time and I feel like I've lost a big part of myself since losing the energy for that.

Not that I was good, I just enjoyed it and I think it had a lot to do with what you were saying about rythm. Somehow giving the voice a rythm to follow, the rise and fall, the potential to harmonise... it all made it easier to hear. And of course music is often poetry, so we connect with it as a creative medium. I sang a little today, just one chorus, loud enough to feel it was real, even if it was brief. I know that Spring will set me singing more, the warm sun makes it easier, and the birds tempt me to join them in welcoming the new season.

Kim said...

I, too, just found your blog! How wonderful it is...I will be exploring it a lot.

Speaking! I do understand what you mean about being too tired to speak. But that doesn't mean I don't have things in my head to share. It means I really don't want to use my voice. So, because I rarely am too tired to do things with my hands...art, you know?...so that means typing is cool. You know Julia Cameron says that reading is a visual activity and that is why artists love doing it...so reading and writing kind of go along with making art for me.

Great post and I can't wait to explore your blog more.

cathy said...

I share your interest in Louise Gluck. Do you perhaps also like Lorinne Neidecker? I have struggled with reading poems aloud, for many years, and this especially a struggle as a poet who has been asked to read her own work aloud. My internal voice and the voice I project seem so far apart from each other, like wires never quite converging. Your blog entries are always thoughtful and thought-provoking. Cathy novembermoon

Marjojo said...

Thanks for your lovely comments, my dear old and new visitors! You make me think, inquire, wonder. Deborah, Kim, will look both of you up soon.
Susan, I know about chakrahs, but not a lot, will look throat chakrah up for clues. You've brought up so many questions, time to think!
Cally, I love singing too, but it does take quite a bit of energy. Sometimes put on music deliberately to sing along with, esp. Nina Simone, makes me feel as if something in me is opening up when I sing. Imagine birds flutteringing out of my chest...
And thank you, Cathy. Don't know Lorinne Neidecker at all, which book/volume/poem do you like especially?