Intimacy of the voice


For my birthday this year I asked close family and friends for a present: I wanted them to send me a recorded poem of their choice.

It felt like a democratic request: it doesn’t cost anything, nor take much time – merely finding a poem and reading it out of loud.

Most people loved the idea, and I was impressed by the number of people who replied.  But some protested “I’d rather take you out to dinner!”, some just ignored the request.  I was not asking for a quick expense, I was asking for involvement.  Involvement: sharing a bit of who you are – with me.  Now that’s a real present.

As a matter of fact, this is probably the best birthday present I have ever received.   My feeling around it might be amplified by the fact that I live abroad and miss many dear people, but that’s not all.   While we have plenty of pictures, voice is not as immediately available, and that rarity creates an intimacy.   A sweet, warm intimacy that all of a sudden invites people who populate different moments of your life in the room.



  1. Jeremy wrote:

    I can’t wait to hear about the vocal and literary riches you’ve accumulated! Will you be sharing an overview of the poems received on the site?

    • Claire wrote:

      I am almost done editing the final collection! I don’t think I will share the recordings online because it’s not something I specified in my request and I know some people wouldn’t be confortable with it. I might however send participants a link of the final compilation.

      I can definitely share an overview of the poems that I received. It’s possible I forgot one or two among the ones that were recently sent, but here’s the list:

      Invitation au voyage – Baudelaire (French)
      Poem #15 – Neruda (Spanish)
      To be great be whole – Pessoa (English)
      Chambre d’Hôtel – Mahmoud Darwish (French)
      Le Chat – Baudelaire (French)
      Winifred’s garden (?) (English)
      Untitled – By Gregory Orr (English)
      The Myth of Sisyphus [first paragraphs] Camus (English)
      Le soleil et la lune – Trenet (French)
      If – Kipling (English)
      Si comme aux vents – Desnos (French)
      Ma muse plus – Nedrere (French)
      King of those who know – Masvidal (English)
      Under der Linden – Walther von der Vogelweide
      Big Game – Branda Shaughnessy (English)
      The Rubaiyat – Khayyam (English)
      The Nap Taker – Silverstein (English)
      Laser Palmistry – Sarah Lindsay (English)
      Sensations – Rimbaud (French)
      The World is too much with us – Wordsworth (English)
      Sverige by KENT (Swedish)
      On the Road to Mandelay – Kipling (English)
      Arabic poem from the 13th century – Unknown – (Arabic and French)
      Love Song – Dorothee Parker
      Pater Noster – Prevert (French)
      Le Saut du tremplin – Théodore de Banville (French)
      The Man and the glass – Unknown – (English)
      Poem for Claire – Kaeser Family (German)
      Mercredi des cendres – Eliot (French)
      Instructions Neil Gaiman (English)
      You and I Are Disappearing – Yusef Komunyakaa (English)
      Rêveries – Yvette Berjot (French)
      La rose – Yvette Berjot (French)
      Le vieux marin – Yvette Berjot (French)
      Friendship – Thoreau (English)
      Breasted Landscape – Brenda Shaughnessy (English)
      Ephemera – WB Yeats (English)
      Text by Katarina Mazetti (French)
      Der Erlkönig – Goethe (German)
      6 Sufi poems (English)

  2. Marmotte wrote:

    “Sverige” de KENT 😉 (et pas röst)