Poetic voice is something that I am thinking about at the moment and I would love to get others views.
Here’s a piece setting out some nuts and bolts about poetic voice that you may agree or disagree with do tell me.
I am also struggling with some questions that I would love your take on them.
What is Poetic Voice?
According to one dictionary of critical terms
, to speak of voice in a poem is to:
… characterize the tonal qualities, attitudes, or even the entire personality of this speaker as it reveals itself directly or indirectly (through sound, choice of diction, and other stylistic devices)…[voice]
reminds us that a human being is behind the words of a poem, that he is revealing his individuality by means of the poem, and that this revelation may be the most significant part of what we receive from the poem… Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Ed. Alex Preminger. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965.
In poetry, the term ‘voice’ refers to the way in which you translate what’s in your head to the outside world. Poetic voice is very simply the way that you write. It is your choice of words, the order of your words, the length of your sentences, the weight of your stanzas, the length of your poems, your use of imagery, your choice of subjects, your outlook, and everything else that goes into the writing of a poem. While any of these aspects of your writing can change from one poem to the next, general patterns will surface over time.
I read recently that you can always recognise the poetry of Laura Adcock by her cool almost icy tones, that Emily Dickerson is noted for her brevity and use of words (somebody said you could sing most of her poems to the tune of The Yellow Rose if Texas…..I haven’t tried it!) These are just a couple of examples of poets recognised by their style.
What is running around in my mind at the moment is:
Is the development of voice just about developing a formula that allows the poet to easily write a poem….becomes habit for example?
Does recognising a voice mean that the reader can prejudge where the poem will go…rather like books by authors that continue to use the same plot formula in their books.
How does the poet keep their voice fresh and authentic?
There are lots of other thoughts sculling in my brain.
What is your take on poetic voice?