Musings on Lyrical Voice
By Kathleen Downey
Third of four segments featuring five of our local poets, composers, and writers participating in the 2012 Newburyport Literary Festival.
As an accompaniment to Newburyport Today’s article on the 2012 Newburyport Literary Festival, to be held April 27 and April 28, five local writers share their musings on lyrical voice, the theme of this year’s festival. Each graciously and thoughtfully answered the questions posed to them by Newburyport Today.
Individually and collectively, their responses reflect the poetic, stark, lyrical, and inspiring prose that each creates through his or her voice.
Be sure to check out the literary festival’s website for the artist spotlight for each of the inspirational poets, composers, and writers participating in this year’s festival. Visit the schedule of events for time and location of each artist.
Newburyport Today: What is the “lyrical voice”? – Is it strictly lyrics (words, poetry) put to music? Or is it something larger/more ethereal and encompassing?
Áine Greaney: I think it’s probably something more. Like, it’s the way we put language together, how we use it, how we convey our own internal language to the public stage or page. I believe it’s about a comfort with language and its power for both the artist and the audience.
Newburyport Today: Why is lyrical voice important?
Áine Greaney: In writing and song-writing, I think we know lyrical works immediately. For me, it’s why I’m drawn to certain works and not others. It’s one of those things that’s hard to quantify or even describe. But it’s this almost mystical meeting between writer and reader, the gateway into the writer’s mind and narrative voice.
Newburyport Today: When does lyrical voice develop? Does it change over time?
Áine Greaney: I think it develops with listening, use and practice, which in turn builds a linguistic self-confidence and ease with language—and a self-confidence in being yourself on the page, to speak in your own unique cadence.
Newburyport Today: Where can one find lyrical voice . . . in what types of creative works or art?
Áine Greaney: Prose, poetry, songs. Certainly, there are whole non-fiction and fictional work without lyricism. These are perfectly fine works—they are correct and factual and the ideas within the piece are aptly linked together. But lyrical writing speaks to something deeper and more human within us than mere words or story on a page. It speaks to our shared internal poetry.
Newburyport Today: How does one find lyrical voice? How does one develop the lyrical voice? How do you describe your lyrical voice?
Áine Greaney: People often tell me that you can tell from some of my writing that I speak or have been raised with a second language (in my case, Irish Gaelic), because there’s a sense of play and duality of meaning in how I write—which infuses the writing with its own organic rhythm. I have always loved music and have always been able to sing or play pretty much any tune or melody by ear. So when it comes to writing prose, it’s about letting myself listen, letting my own musical ear be the decider of how I use language or, just as important, how I fine-tune and edit.
More from Áine:
“In keeping with this year’s theme, I will be reading from the most musically-inspired excerpts of my novel, Dance Lessons.
As an added treat, my friend Kate Hanlon, a gifted fiddle player, will accompany parts of the reading.
We perform and read on Saturday, April 27, at 2:30 p.m. at the historic Old South Church, Federal Street, Newburyport.
So come on down to hear how story, music and language all harmonize–on and off the written page.”
Kathleen Downey is the Features Editor for Newburyport Today. If you have a story idea, contact Kathleen at Kathleen@Newburyport-Today.com.