I have never really liked giving readings of my poetry. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is partly that I sense that my speaking voice is not the mellifluous voice I hear in my head, does not have the timbre that the poems deserve—that it does not—in my humble opinion, as they say—present them well. I am not a natural performer! Or perhaps it is that I seem to possess a skill, which surely must be unique to any wordsmith: I have the ability to read aloud a line that I have read hundreds of times before, a line which I wrote, for goodness sake, and probably spent some time over—agonising over the perfect word and word order for the sound of the line—for my poems are certainly written for the sound as much as the words on the page—and misspeak the one word on which the line hinges!
Sorry I’ll read that again, I did not mean to say dead, it should be dread!
So begins one of the shorter short stories in When I Am Not Writing Poetry. It finishes – and this was what made me post it here – with a short poem by Malcolm Lowry that seemed to pretty much express the same problem: somehow using the wrong word:
I wrote: in the dark caverns of our birth.
The printer had it tavern, which seems better:
But herein lies the subject of our mirth,
Since on the next page death appears as dearth.
So it may be that God’s word was distraction,
Which to our strange type appears destruction,
Which is bitter.
Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry. Pocket Poets Series Number 17.
City Lights Books, 1962. p.79.
I should add, that all my books – the short stories as well as both of my poetry collections – are available on Amazon as well as from this website.