Wednesday Workshop: Voice Recordings

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Wednesday Workshop
13 June 2018
Voice Recordings

To be Welsh on Sunday

I am continuing today with my experiments with voice recordings, something that interests me very much. As I said earlier, my voice changes with audience and mood, and early morning, in Island View, with the microphone and Princess Squiffy as an audience, and the window open so the cool morning air can circulate before the heat of the day, is not the best way to induce mood, well, not in this reader anyway.

When I made the recording, I was reading from my book  Though Lovers Be Lost  (available on Amazon) my head was slightly turned away from the laptop’s built-in speaker, and, as a result, the reading is not as loud as I would have liked. It is also a little bit fast. I don’t mind the speed of it: when I was younger I would read this poem in a single breath, all 90 seconds or so of it. Now I need many breaths to get though it successfully. Ah, a young man’s fancy turned to dust …

I will do a retake of the poem, not on my laptop, but on my IMac, and I will add that later, below the first recording which will appear just below this introduction. Then I will add the text. Yesterday I offered text, then reading. Today I offer the reading first. That allows the listener to listen first and then read the text OR to start the audio recording and then follow the text as it is being read. This is a Wednesday Workshop and this is all part of my workshop experiments in reading. Wonderful fun and highly recommended. Thank you for being here with me and remember, your comments are more than welcome, they convert a workshop from a soliloquy into a dialog.

 

Second recording to follow

To be Welsh on Sunday

To be Welsh on Sunday in a dry area of Wales is to wish, for the only time in your life, that you were English and civilized,  and that you had a car or a bike and could drive or pedal to your heart’s desire, the county next door, wet on Sundays, where the pubs never shut  and the bar is a paradise of elbows in your ribs and the dark liquids flow, not warm, not cold, just right, and family and friends are there beside you  shoulder to shoulder, with the old ones sitting indoors by the fire in winter or outdoors in summer, at a picnic table under the trees or beneath an umbrella that says Seven Up and Pepsi (though nobody drinks them) and the umbrella is a sunshade on an evening like this when the sun is still high  and the children tumble on the grass playing soccer and cricket and it’s “Watch your beer, Da!” as the gymnasts vault over the family dog till it hides beneath the table and snores and twitches until “Time, Gentlemen, please!” and the nightmare is upon us as the old school bell, ship’s bell, rings out its brass warning and people leave the Travellers’ Rest, the Ffynnon Wen,  The Ty Coch, The Antelope, The Butcher’s, The Deri, The White Rose, The Con Club, the Plough and Harrow, The Flora, The Woodville, The Pant Mawr, The Cow and Snuffers — God bless them all, I knew them in my prime.

Photo Credit: Princess Squiffy, my favorite listener. She never complains, but she rarely stays awake.

On Being Welsh

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Cherry
A careful listener

On being Welsh in a land ruled by the English

 I am the all-seeing eyes at the tip of Worm’s Head;
I am the teeth of the rocks at Rhossili;
I am the blackness in Pwll Ddu pool
when the sea-swells suck the stranger in and out,
sanding his bones.

Song pulled taut from a dark Welsh lung,
I am the memories of Silure and beast
mingled in a Gower Cave;
tamer of aurox,
hunter of deer,
caretaker of coracle,
fisher of salmon on the Abertawe tide,
I am the weaver of rhinoceros wool.

I am the minority,
persecuted for my faith,
for my language,
for my sex,
for the coal-dark of my thoughts.

I am the bard whose harp, strung like a bow,
will sing your death with music of arrows
from the wet Welsh woods.

I am the barb that sticks in your throat
from the dark worded ambush of my song.

Commentary:

Continuing with the audio experiments of the last couple of days, here is my voice recording of On Being Welsh. This poem can be found, along with several other Welsh poems, in Though Lovers Be Lost, available on Amazon.

Comments on the readings are very welcome. For my regular readers, if you have a favorite poem of mine that you would like to hear, just let me know and I will record it, specially for you!

 

I am indebted to my friend Jeremy Gilmer for this second reading of On Being Welsh. We will be collaborating on the creation of sound files and posting contrasting readings of various poems to see how different voices and rhythms change sound and meaning in poetry. Hopefully, this is the first in a longer series.

 

 

Brandy Cove

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Brandy Cove

for my cousin
Frances
who lives in
Australia

I remember helping our nana
climb the steep slope
from the beach to the headland.

“It’s easy, nana,” I said. “Look!”
I leaped from tussock to tussock,
up the path, each patch of grass
a stepping stone leading me upwards.

She stood there, below me,
breathing hard, her left hand
held against her chest,
just beneath her heart.

“I’m catching my breath,”
she said, panting.

I ran up and down, then held out
my hand to help her.

It was so long ago.
Who now will hold out
her hand to help me
as I too age and grow
slow?

In Vino Veritas

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In Vino Veritas

Last year, on the road to Pwll Ddu,
I turned the steering wheel too fast
and almost rolled the car I rented.
My mother’s ashes were in the back.

I was driving my father to the Gower
so he could scatter them on the sea,
as she had requested. “Watch what
you’re doing,” my father cried.
“You’ve knocked your mother down.”

Now, as I drink to forget her ashes
tumbling around in their plastic urn,
I call you names. Crude graffiti clings
to the wall I have built between us.

Can you forgive me? In vino veritas,
said the ancient Romans, but truth from
a bottle is a double-edged sword cutting
both striker and person struck. My love,
I sense stark darkness within you. I see
black stars exploding to flood blue skies
with their inevitable ink. Can you feel
the instant hurt behind my eyes, like I
sense yours? Here, in one of our secret
gardens, give me the pardon I never gave
my parents. Heal the harm I’ve done.
Forgive me. Break the cycle. Set us all free.

Gower

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To Be Welsh in Gower

To be Welsh in Gower is to spell it funny
and pronounce it worse: Gŵyr.

It’s to know how to say Pwll Ddu.

It’s meeting the cows in the lane to Brandy Cove
and knowing them all by name and reputation,
which one kicks, which one gores,
when to walk in the middle of the lane,
and when to jump for the safety of the hedge.

It’s to know the difference between the twin farmers
Upper Jones and Lower Jones.

It’s to recognize their sheepdogs, Floss and Jess,
and to call them with their different whistles.

It’s knowing the time of day by sun and shadow.

It’s knowing the tide is in or out
by the salt smell in the air
without ever needing to see the sea;

and now, in this far off land,
it’s hearing your stomach growl
for caws wedi pobi, crempog or teisen lap
whilst memory’s fish-hook tugs at your heart

like your father tugged at salmon bass,
fishing from the sand-pebbled beach
at Rhossili, Pennard, or Three Cliffs.