Testing the group with a trial performance of Thalidomide Acts

Black and white photograph of man

Mat Fraser by Photographer Ashley Savage

One of the interesting discoveries of the transcription poetry process has been how well the poems lend themselves to live reading. (The reason may be the accuracy with which the process preserves the individual voice of the person interviewed.)

I saw this demonstrated at DAiSY Fest 2014 when I gave a reading from ‘Proud’, my series of poems from the words of Jennifer Taylor. As a black woman with learning disabilities, Jennifer is a very different person from me. But her voice came powering through in what proved to be a remarkable evening.

So, at a recent D4D meeting, when we wanted to give the rest of the team a sense of what was happening in ‘Electric Bodies’, it was natural to give a reading from ‘Thalidomide Acts’, my set of poems with Mat Fraser. This may not be a standard form of academic presentation, but I’m not an academic, and we’re not a standard team.

Responses were good. Martin Levinson, our Principal Investigator stated that hearing the work read has resolved doubts he’d had about whether the process raised ethical concerns. Mary Brydon-Miller noted how there were two distinct voices present. (I was pleased by that. People don’t always get that my voice is present in the work as well as that of the poem’s subject.) Lucy Burke, being a literature academic, was strongly interested in how I made the editing decisions that take the work from transcription to poems.

I hope they’ll explain these thoughts themselves in further posts.

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