Reasons to read your work aloud, a re-form of D. Wallace Peach

I have an irksome sensitivity
to the sounds of words
the rhythm of phrases and sentences.
When I search for the right word,
it’s not just the meaning
I’m chasing.
I’m looking
for the right number of syllables,
the sharpness
or softness
of the consonants.
As I nestle a word into a sentence,
I listen for the subtlety
of alliteration,
a rhythm
that form phrases,
phrases into paragraphs.

Photo by olia danilevich on

© D. Wallace Peach

From “16 Reasons to read your work aloud,” by D. Wallace Peach. Re-formed by Chel Owens.

20 thoughts on “Reasons to read your work aloud, a re-form of D. Wallace Peach

  1. I can never resist a few religious references when commenting on your posts. To be honest, this time it renders it even clunkier than normal. But anyway …..

    I’ve never really known
    What it is about a rhyme
    It’s just how it ebbs and flows
    How it moves about in time
    It’s something like a painting
    Never mind the style
    You don’t know what you’re seeing
    ‘Till you’ve seen it for a while
    It finds you in your dreams
    Invades the sanctity of bed
    It crawls across the carpet
    And then it gets into your head
    It may be from the bible
    But it’s more than what you’ve read
    The words may come from God
    But may not be those He said
    It’s a never ending hallway
    To a doorway you’ve been shown
    To a view beyond the window
    Where there’s a glimpse of the unknown
    Always keep it with you
    Hold it safely in your hand
    And treasure every word
    That you can never understand

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  2. Diana’s post today was one of the most informative pieces I’ve read about the importance of reading one’s work aloud.

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  3. Reading aloud is probably okayish, as long as you’re not also following each word with your finger. 😁

    I picked up an interesting free ebook last week from the quirky but occasionally marvellous Project Gutenberg. It’s called “A Handy Guide for Beggars: Especially Those of the Poetic Fraternity” That’s actually an abridged title; the title might be longer than the book. By Nicholas Vachel Lindsay from Illinois, and first published in 1916. I didn’t know anything about him but now I read that he was one of the “singing poets” who maintained that their poems should be sung!, or, at the very least, chanted. He doesn’t, however, provide the melody in this book so chanting is the only option left.

    Incidentally, the writer, Clive James, who also published poetry later in his life, described poetry as containing its own music – as apposed to lyrics which require music to be added.

    It’s no criticism, more seeking advice, but I’m always confused by the arrangement of a poem’s words in print – are these phonetic instructions of a sort? The most baffling is centre alignment, or sometimes even partly indented. Poetry may have its own peculiar punctuation rules when written out and which I’m not versed in. For me, the squarer the poem looks on the page, the more confidence I have in it. 🙂

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    1. This needs a post of its own discussion!

      I agree about the music of poetry; that ‘tune’ is what resonates with us when we read. If we sense a dissonance in the words or phrasing then we say we don’t like the poem or don’t understand it.

      Spacing, centering, indenting, etc. are tricks to get the reader to see and read the words the way the poet wants them read. Following a block format is a very sure and solid format. Unless you screw up the feet of the meter, a block format poem will be read as it is -without namby-pamby ‘artistic expression.’ 🙂

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