Recently, in chatting with a dear friend, Sarah Rafael García, she remarked that when I feel comfortable in a reading, my voice takes on a different tone, that of a preacher. She said that I must have been a reverend in a previous life. This comment followed our AWP experience, one where I had received the same feedback from Jasminne Mendez and Lupe Mendez in a separate interaction about a reading/panel that they attended of mine. Both of them said, in hearing my prose and poem, that everything is a poem for me.
I’ve been thinking about comfort in speaking and voice as a conduit of spirit.
It’s totally a culturally enriched practice that generally when I speak, I lower my eyes, only generally checking in with the person with whom I am speaking through the conversation. I find myself looking down or beyond the person so much so that the person may turn around. It’s as if I am including someone else in the conversation, though that’s not my intention at all. There’s an intimacy to looking someone in the eye that I generally do not entertain. I am more likely to use eye to eye contact with someone when a reminder of my authority is necessary. Still, in both circumstances, I often stumble on my words and use a great deal of circular storytelling. One reveals discomfort, while the other reveals the fluidity of my thinking and the influences of many resources on my thinking. Challenges and opportunities. As with all humans, I’m complex in my presentation and thinking about it.
But when I am at my most comfortable, when I am reading from my work, I find my voice. My tone changes and becomes more resonant. I reach into the echo chamber of the diaphragm and pull from there voice control and strength. The voice I use unfurls as a spirit bridge between what I am trying to say (what spirit also inspired after studied focus) and the audience …
as I write this, though, I am filled with discomfort. I never know how to take a compliment. I never quite believe that my readings have an effect on others, though I hope that they do. I hope that my work activates others to be more socially engaged as I hope it connects to them on a human to human level. I hope, but I am never sure.
I am struggling to trust the insights of my peers, brilliant writers and organizers, who see a spark in my voice (both literal and figurative). I need to push past this idea that claiming one’s gift is bragging or being “cocky”. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m trying to understand how the voice can be a conduit for spirit and how this is how voice is what connects spirit to human being as vessel of spirit. I’m trying to thinking through my place in that sacred work.
I’m also interested in reading about the work of others who have explored this more fully and considered the creative in respect to the sacred. Maybe that’s what I need to gather resources on, “Voice as awakening” of self and in connection with community cultural wealth …