Sunday, 3 February 2008
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.