Monday, February 21, 2011

Finding My Voice

Scene from "The King's Speech"
In the exquisite film, "The King's Speech," there is a scene in which the therapist Lionel Logue explains how he helped shell-shocked veterans of World War I regain their voices - voices that they were afraid to use because of the trauma they had experienced. Some of his techniques consisted of breathing and vocal exercises to re-educate the muscles and nerves as to the mechanics of speech. One of his techniques meant listening with his heart as well as his ears to his clients.

I wrote a post last April about how I have been largely voiceless when it comes to poetry due to my own long term trauma. Like those shell-shocked veterans, like poor Albert thrust onto the throne as George VI, I could barely write if it involved poetry. 

And then a group of my high school classmates coalesced on Facebook. We found, some 40 years after we all began 9th grade together, that we share common bonds after all. One of us, Kate, began to post daily haikus, and eventually that lead to no less than three separate poetry groups on Facebook populated primarily by the Delaware Hayes Class of 1974.

Okay, a disclaimer. We are not talking T. S. Eliot or Emily Dickinson here. There are a lot of limericks and general high jinks. There is also a lot of fun, not to mention appreciation of one another that we couldn't have begun to have had back in our teenage years.

For me, the groups are all that and more. For me, they are a series of exercises in finding my poetic voice. They have become drills to re-educate my fingers and my sentences in the mechanics of poetry. They have become a way to get the taste of poetry back into my heart and into my words.

Writing poetry for a very small, very supportive audience makes me feel as I am starting to speak out loud again after a long silence. I may never regain my poetic voice with the same strength and vigor I would have had had I not lost it for so long. But I don't stutter anymore either. I don't  stand silent in front of the poetry microphone. Today Tonya threw out a haiku assignment of "favorite childhood memory" and before I could stop myself, I had posted four in response.

I was a little taken aback when I had finished. Did I just do that? Really?

National Poetry Month is a little less than five weeks away. I am still exercising, still writing, still building up my skills and my nerves. But I'm giving serious thought to a self-made challenge to post my poetry on this blog during the entire month. 30 days, 30 poems.

I know, it's not the start of World War II and I am not the King reassuring his people. I am only me, reassuring myself that it is okay - more than okay - to write out loud.

And that - giving myself permission to write poetry again - is more of a challenge than all the King's horses and all the king's men could ever have put back together again.


Terri said...

What fun that would be--please do 30 poems in 30 days. I would visit regularly!

see you there! said...

I hope you give it a try. I had to go back and read your "why" and I completely understand. Different situation but as a teen someone opened and read my mail. I have never since been able to commit my deepest feeling to paper (or blog).


Marilyn Yocum said...

LOVE this. Go for it!
Sing in the voice you've been given.

Deidra said...

I am saying yes for you. I'm nearly leaping from my seat. I clicked over and read your story and I hope that you'll say yes. I do.