The Art of Poetry Voiceovers

If you think you don’t like poetry – hang on a second. I just might change your mind in a few minutes.

ID-10084724 (Mic)Anyone who has read this blog more than once or twice probably knows by now that in addition to being a voice artist, I also write quite a bit of poetry. Most of it is for children, although I do write quite a bit of adult-themed poetry, as well.

So when I was considering what to write about for today’s post, I had the thought that it might be nice to combine the two.

But how to do that? I decided to simply take a moment and share what I think are some really great examples of poetry voiceovers done by non-voiceover professionals – that is, poems read by the poets themselves. And not just “poetry readings,” but true voiceovers, designed for production with video.

There are some truly astounding examples out there of poetry and voice work coming together.

Take, for instance, this short poem by poet/author Freya Manfred, who has written six books of poetry as well as a memoir about her life as the daughter of novelist Frederick Manfred:

She has such a calm, reassuring, knowledgeable-sounding voice…I imagine her narrating the next National Geographic documentary. (and yes, that’s a compliment!)

Then there’s this captivating and moving video by Canadian poet Shane Koyczan, which has garnered more than 16 million views in a little over 2 years:

Prefer something a little more understated? The following poem by Minneapolis poet/lawyer Tim Nolan is a bit more cerebral than the previous two, and features a drier – yet still effective – voiceover:

Finally, I have to share the young-guy-next-door, tell-it-like-it-is style delivery of poet and artist Todd Boss. Like fellow Minnesotan Nolan, Todd is an extremely creative fellow; he not only has two books of poetry out, but also writes poetry on commission and creates ingenious works of poetic art for pubic display. My thanks to friend, poet Steven Withrow, for sharing this video:

In their own ways, each of these folks brings poetry to life in different ways – through their unique words, of course, but also via their unique vocalizations of those words. One stressed word here, an unstressed syllable there, a too-short pause at the wrong moment…could create an entirely different mood, or worse, lose the connection created with the listener.

Professional voice work does, indeed, require an understanding of words, emotions, and sounds…and these poets, although not professional voice actors, obviously have a solid grasp on how best to relate their words from the printed page to a listener’s ear. I hope you enjoyed these, and hope you find others you will love on your own!

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Poetry Voiceovers

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