Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lost Your Voice? Try Strepsils.

So what is voice? When I was asked what my voice was recently, I was stumped. I don't know. Isn't it up to someone else to tell me what I sound like? All I hear is what I hear in my own ears, distorted by wind, traffic noise, the beating of my own pulse, and the fact that I've got a headache this morning or went to bed too late last night or faint images of the film I saw on TV or repeats of QI on Dave. Is there something that I retain from the first good poems I wrote? Am I still a Northern Anecdotalist (copyright Roddy Lumsden) or have a become something else?

Most of my influences are New American or post-British Poetry Revival. Is that part of my voice. Is a voice a combination of all your influences plus something from your childhood plus some essential essence of individual self that somehow gets preserved from the ravages of just living your life or is there such a thing as an individual self to preserve anyway? If I was to learn another language and write in that, would I still preserve that essential ingredient, the self?

I happen to be somewhat religious, but not in the way I was when I started writing. Then I was a born-again Christian (yes, I am a Survivor of Evangelicalism.) Now I'm a Quaker who isn't at all sure if he can intellectually justify the feeling at the back of his head that there is something he calls God that in some philosophical vague way sort of exists (I could go on but I'd be here till doomsday.) Am I the same person as I was then, or have I changed?

Has my voice changed, deepened, become more or less serious, sonorous, facile, fluent, stammering, louder, quieter, and does any of this matter anyway?

Who am I? And who are you? And who's he (behind you)?


angelatopping said...

You have a booming voice with a loud pleasing laugh. Take no notice of Lumsden.
But if want a label -Northern Nutter?

pdsutton said...

Hi Steven,

I think this topic gets to the heart of many things (and you're far from being an anecdotalist, from my reading of your work).

The voice issue was central to your recent Hand + Star review of my collection (thanks again for doing that).

At the risk of being egocentric, I use (or rather transcribe) multiple voices, often saying extreme things.

I never worry if I "agree" with them, only if they have enough energy (satirical/comical) to sustain the piece. I then try and supply the images/rhythm/pacing/coeherence.

You wondered, in the review, if "I" had anything positive to say about "my world" - but these voices aren't "my world". Ideally, the real me would like any reader I get to know as little about that as possible.

Best regards