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Jul 24 Written by 

More About the Experiment with Voices and Chance

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I hope Kim Lozano will forgive me for using my letter to her as the basis of this blog entry. Others have asked much the same question: What's the Experiment with Voices and Chance about?

There used to be an art form often practiced in schools called "choral reading." It's still popular in Asia but in the U.S. it died out around WWII. I had learned of it in a Girl Scout Brownie Handbook as a kid. A group selects a text and then decides how to read it aloud as a group for hearers. It is like choir without music. Some call it "speech choir." At some points the whole group reads the text aloud together, then at others two voices read, or one, or four, male, female, loud soft fast slow, pauses, repeats, interplay of voices and so on, so as to give life to the text the way a poet does at a reading, but expressing it using multiple voices. "For Colored Girls," the "choreopoem" by Ntozake Shange, has certain scenes which serve as an example.

Honestly I decided years ago I wanted to try this way of approaching poetry to vary the "poetry reading" experience without music or poetry-slam theatrics. Now I have a group willing to do it. Decided also that by the group's reading not just our own poems but a piece built by multiple contributors from the St. Louis area, it could be awesome. In any case worth a try.

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1007 Last modified on Sunday, 24 July 2011
Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.