• Posted on March 4, 2014 at 10:48 pm

I was teased by something that was said about voice. It flashed into my mind from several directions at once. Voice is what people hear of you. We speak of giving a voice, meaning empowering. We speak of having no voice as disenfranchised. We speak of something voiced, to imply the speaker would not otherwise be heard. Voice is breath with meaningful sound, so it marks the human spirit, and enables communication. And voices can be so different, from gentle to strident, pleading to dictatorial. ‘Performative utterance’ is a voice that makes something happen. Voice is also song. Grammatically, it can be active or passive. A bad cold or throat, and we can lose it to a whisper. And of course for someone shifting their life into a different gender voice is a scary givaway. Female to male transition is so enviably easy! The other way round has us searching YouTube, downloading voice analysis software, messing with keyboards, avoiding falsettos, pushing and visualising our pitch, learning cadence and even vocabulary and gestures that make our voice more as we would like. We imagine hanging our voice higher each day, or putting it on a high shelf. We risk sounding posh or Australian without noticing. We breathe and enunciate, listen to favourite actresses, and sing along with female vocalists in the car. And then there is the telephone. Voice, as the genuine expression of self, the journey out of the lie, is hard won.

And for the hard-of-reading, here is me reading it!

sound fileVoice (listen)


voice is speaking, voice is singing, voice
is breath made sound, voice is expression, is
meaning, voice is unique, may harmonise

or may sound alone

voice is me made known to you and you to me

voice is given, voice is found, voice
is lost, remains, in echo, voice is

what I speak, is what I utter, voice is heart
in sound, is hurt, is love
voice is to you, is to me,
is to empty air, but where

is voice?

I have a voice, I have two voices, one
I do not use; but if I were to sing, it may
find its place; I miss singing but not
the voice, not that voice; did it lie? no,
it was natural in an expanded throat, did I lie?
no, I just did not

know I had another voice

I have not used that voice for
years, last sounded for seconds
a year ago, and could not take it anymore, it is strange,

in my teens I heard it recorded
and it was light and high, and I
felt embarrassed with myself, now
I cannot bear to hear it so, how

did people hear my voice?

if they heard what they saw, they did not see
what they heard, my tenor was sufficient

trick on the ear, and my voice, my real voice
was silent, I had something
waiting to be said, I said, I had something
waiting, something, weighting my voice, down,
way down

I was unspoken, the real I
a wheel uncentred, loosened
from its hub, un-spoke-en, but I
found my voice, I found my song, I
found my breath, joined rib to hum
joined rim to hub and
turned; I had to learn

to speak, as if it were song, moving
white to black to white, key by key, back
to light, more afraid to be too low,

to be so low, I hung my voice
on hooks, sat it
on a shelf, taught it a new place where
it could rest, and there

it is, my voice, so
ordinary to me I have
little left to say

‘I like your voice’, she said. ‘Please read for me.’

my voice has quite become me


2014 © Andie Davidson


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