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That's one hell of a forever young photo.


Also, I am pleased you were a fan of Joan Baez. Don't ask me why.

(I have a story about her. At one time, I was going to be in touch with her and the artist I was producing in Brazil, Geraldo Vandré, was super-famous down there. I told him I would be talking to her and will tell her that he thinks she is great. He said fine, but as I got up to leave, he stopped me and said, "Just tell her I think she has a good voice." :)  Friggin' artists. Whatcha gonna do with them? What's worse, the project fell apart before I got to talk to her. I am sure she knew who Geraldo was and, had I talked to her and given her that message, I can easily see her returning the favor. :) )

I went through a bunch of your poems. The feeling I most get from them, especially when you do wordplay, which you do well, is love of "you" as a foundation combined with a nuanced emotion, something along the lines of the emotions described in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. (What an awful title for this context, and, besides, most of the book is a joy. :) ) Except you have your own voice. The impression I get is nice (better than nice, but I like that word in this sense for some reason).

And soft-spoken, like you are. Solid and not loud.

Good stuff.



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Thank you, Michael.

Double, because at Facebook there is no counter showing number of views, and without your comment here, I'd not have known anyone saw the recent reading I gave in Comment.

About that "Forever Young" photograph: That would be about 50 years ago while I was in college. It was taken by my college roommate who was a math guy and an amateur photographer, developing his own prints. I had asked him to make it for a gift to my mother Lera (who had not raised me and) who had made it possible for me to go to college. That shirt was made by my stepmother. We took the photo in the country outside our college town. It was framed and had always stood on a bureau in Lera's small house in the small country-town where she lived all her life. Before she deceased, she had asked me to come down and take with me all the gifts I had given her for mementos. The photo was not there anywhere, she had Alzheimers, and she didn't know where it had gone. I supposed for twenty years after her death that it was forever lost. But visiting my older sister a couple of years ago, we went through some trunks, and there it was among other, older photos our mom's husband had sent after mom's death. I was stunned by how I looked. I later thought of the circumstance for Jerry back in those days, talking philosophy and everything with me on and on, and that was what he was looking at! He would have to go for it.

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Here is some unsolicited advice on speaking and declaiming, although I am not sure I can get it across without showing you in person. (I have trained lots of singers and even speakers back when I was producing.)

The first thing is to breathe deeper. You are barely breathing in the video. Once that is comfortable, you should breathe in places you don't think you need to yet. We breathe automatically, which means we normally breathe when we run out of air. But for performance, you have to add intentionality until it becomes second nature. Then it supports your voice well.

Here is what I mean in terms you can do. I'll use part of your poem to illustrate. Take deeper breaths than you normally do, but not exaggerated. And where I have marked to breathe, do so. Practice this. You will feel awkward at first because you will not feel the need for more air at those places. But the vast majority of great speakers and singers do this. The trick is to keep tanking up without needing it. That way you never run out and you always have a solid air base beneath your vocal chords.

In the line Round:
round to wider round, [BREATHE]
race and trace one’s arc
farther to farther one’s start, [BREATHE]
pressing through the space
of this magnanimous earth.

Don't pause to breathe. Just take a quick breath and keep it subtle so the public will not perceive it. You could even do this after each line, but in my view, every two lines works well. Once this becomes second nature, you will be able to go all day without getting tired or down.

On another point, I would have to show you, but diaphragmatic breathing is far, far, far superior to chest breathing.


Then, for voice placement, close your lips and hum. Then put a finger or two on your nose and lips (not the fleshy part--right below your nose and above your chin). You will feel your lips vibrate and your nose, too, but it will be less. This comes from your skull being a sounding board and vibrating somewhat like the main body of a guitar.

If you can learn to place your voice into that place where the skull vibrates, but with your mouth open and saying words, you will not have to try to make your voice deeper (like you do in the recording) to get a resonant effect on a whisper or soft-spoken line. It will project naturally. And that will enable you to play more with the emotions. Even wistful emotions. Right now your voice is all in the throat. That's what is making it so hard to vary and modulate.

One of the quickest ways to start (and to experiment on your own) is yawn, then close your mouth around yawn as you speak. (Don't forget to breathe.) Don't yawn or speak in an exaggerated way. But do enough to be uncomfortable at first. Then try to feel the vibration in your palate on up as you speak. It feels weird at first, but as you get used to it, it will become second nature. After a while, you will not have to start with yawning and your personality will start coming through in a manner much easier than before. Don't let your voice become a caricature, though, not even when starting this. Keep it natural.

This stuff isn't hard, but it does take some practice.

If you want me to expound on these techniques or something, I'm willing. 

And, of course, if you are not interested, no biggie.



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