Sound is evident everywhere and created by our very own vibrations. But, the sound on our paper does not have any sort of real resonance, obviously. Because of this, writers must create sound by themselves with their deliberate word choice and punctuation. Many small factors can influence how a word is said out loud or read on the page. Some of these factors include hyphens, em dashes, or specific letters strung together. 

As of my enlightenment of the phrase “Hedge-crickets sing”, I will be sure to pay more attention to how I compile words around a specific moment of emphasis. Within my past as a writer, I usually do work with similar sounds because I like the chewiness and necessity of saying something out loud to mirror its importance.

Certain words specifically stick out to me while writing. I really enjoy writing about symbolism and sensitivity of teeth. So, surrounding the word teeth, I incorporate words that have a similar T, or clacking noise to mimic chattering. Or, when discussing a long journey, I write with longer vowels to show the propulsion of dense movement.

In class, during the end exercise, I wrote some lines that I want to work further with because the sounds had potential. One of the phrases was “orange-red walls whaling”. I think that these words together are very chewy and sew into each other well. I like the sound of “orange-red” because the beginning of orange matches the R in red, while attached with the hyphen. Then the repeated momentum of the R and W makes the reader truly read this phrase and go through it slowly. I intend to place this line in some sort of fast paced, intense poem so these words force the reader to slow down. I also wrote another line that reads: “boot buckles strap and clack”.  I really like the sound of this phrase because of the repeated CK sound.

Overall, I enjoy where these repeated sounds are taking my writing while strung together. They prove emphasis, and add pace to the piece. Because the R and W slow down the piece while the CK add a rhythm and quicker momentum to the poem. I plan to continue these patterns and hopefully emerge something new from my writing. 

3 Replies to “SoundCloud”

  1. Julia,

    These are wonderful, thoughtful observations.

    As a writer, you demonstrate an uncommon sensitivity to language. For instance, you discuss the “chewiness,” the mouthfeel of words — an important reminder that language is more than ghost, it is something palpable, tactile.

    However, as a point of concern, I’m not sure that linguistic experience alone is enough to merit use. First, there is the matter of taste. Often, taste is a collaborative effort — the composite of trends which have emerged as dominant. These preferences are then socialized into us creating a kind of self-perpetuating feedback loop.

    What I am trying to say is this: the things you and I like are often liked by many, many others.

    Words are no exception. Consider “love,” “red,” or “bright.” In the current literary canon even the less common — “boyhood,” “cathedral” — have begun to ring cliché. That a word is beautiful is, to me, not reason enough to use it.

    Worryingly, when we aren’t conscious of our linguistic choices, we run the risk of diluting the piece or inserting terms which aren’t contextually appropriate.

    This, of course, isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use such words, rather it’s a suggestion to ask “why” — that language ought to be questioned. Yes, it is true that there are no hard and fast rules in literature; however, analytical rigor is an exercise in control, affects our ability to construct narratives with precision.

    If an orange mango appears in a poem, ask why the mango is orange, why the mango is a mango, why it appears at all. If the answers are more than skin-deep, then the image can be called “justifed” — its appearance relating to something essential, the fulcrum of this specific facet of experience.

    Again, thank you for your insight — I can’t wait to see more from you.

    1. Jasmine~
      I admire your comment that it is important to ask “why” a word might be used when choosing language to fill a poem. This question proves fundamental in all types of literature, but is especially important in poetry. What intimidates me most about writing poetry is the fact that there is no way to hide. The words and the white space speak for themselves. The technical flaws are revealed, and are obvious.
      But these revealing moments also excite me.
      I had never paid much attention to sound as a writer. I’ve dabbled in poetry, but I know that I’ve failed to hit rhythmic strides. The poem also tends to fall apart, whether in meaning, or cohesiveness. Because of this, I’ve marked myself as a freeverse poet.
      That being said, I was wary of creating a poem where words with similar vowel sounds are used. I cheated a little, and used an end-rhyme scheme in order to get an idea of what it would be like to write a poem with similar vowel sounds. The poem, like any new creation, is not perfect. It’s flaws will be revealed in due time. But what I noticed is that the structure of the poem forced me to stay on task. I had to find words with like-sounds, and string them together with similar syllables in order to create a poem that didn’t, for lack of a better term, sound funny.
      This sound excercise pushed the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of as a poet. It was because I forced myself to allow structure to dictate how the poem grew. I blame the structure for the poem’s entire existence, and I’m certainly glad that I was asked to create a poem with the like vowel-sounds. I’m eager to see what else I can create, now that I’ve discovered I can work under boundaries.

  2. Gabrielle,

    I appreciate the honesty, the vulnerability of your comments.

    I’ll admit it too — poetry terrifies me.

    Unlike prose, there’s this element of compression which serves as a kind of limiting reagent both aesthetically and lyrically. Then, as you’ve noted, there’s the heft of all we’ve been taught to account for: enjambment, diction, meter.

    I guess, it’s a bit like grasping at water — of each palmful, some stays, but most escapes through the fingers. Sometimes, it’s useful to mute the self-editor, the anxious voice that says “this isn’t perfect.” A good exercise which facilitates this is the blindfolded freewrite. You don’t actually need a blindfold — staring at the ceiling is a good substitute — but the point is to counteract that self-consciousness which takes over when we look at the page. After all, it’s difficult to censor a poem when you’ve forgotten half of what you’ve written.

    This isn’t to say that you should ignore craft, but don’t give its spectre the power of censorship.

    Use an end-rhyme scheme if that’s what keeps you going — it’s not cheating so much as it’s innovation.

    I remember the hours I spent, the hours I spend — present tense — in front of blank pages, too afraid to fail, to write that first line. In the end, of course, I fail anyways — we all do.

    Personally, what I find most important is forgiveness — the ability to forgive myself, forgive my work. I try and let myself fail in horrifying, spectacular ways. Seriously. Because the poems I’m happier with, the ones which remind me of why I do this — any of this — all of these are built on the backs of trainwrecks, lines I still wince at, every house on fire.

    Your persistance is so so admirable!

    I wish you the best of luck as you continue to write poems — gorgeous, unflinching, unapologetic poems.

Leave a Reply to Jasmine Cui Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.