Reading is thought of as a silent pursuit, a psychic communion between two intellects and imaginations: those of author and reader. Yet, the space between those points is filled with a cacophony of phantom voices; characters go about their business as they would in the real world: shouting, whispering, crying, laughing. Your voice, too, is heard, as you process your own ideas and opinions. The quiet, firm mastermind behind the subtleties of plot and style is there, guiding everything behind a mask of neutrality: gagged by choice but interacting with everyone, across an expanse of space and time that refuses to be confined.
If you have ever been to a book reading you know what a wonderful experience it is to hear a writer read from one of their works. Maybe their words have been echoing for years in your head, until the only voice associated with them is your own. Hearing them spoken by the person who strung them together in such a serendipitous way may be jarring or amazing, at first, but surely it is always exhilarating. When many of your favorite authors are of the long-dead variety, setting off to the neighborhood Barnes & Noble for a Thursday night listen-and-greet is out of the question.
If we cannot travel back to the 1920s to catch Edna St. Vincent Millay on one of her famous speaking tours, or to the 1960s to hear Sylvia Plath give a radio reading, we can do the next best thing. That realm-of-nearly-all-things-are-possible, the Internet, is accessible with a few clicks of the keyboard. We are going to gather our favorite clips of writers speaking and permanently park them right here, under the auspices of ‘Voices from the Grave’.
First up: Robert Graves.