vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.
One of the things I love most about Voca is the way that it literally allows us to hear a poet’s voice—not just their voice on the page but their speaking voice, their public voice. On Voca you’ll hear poets who whisper or shout, who read quickly or with great deliberation, with sweet voices, deep voices, sharp voices, gravelly voices—all that reach across time and distance to be present with you, alive with personality. Carolyn Forché’s voice is one of my very favorites included on Voca. Forché’s poems on the page move deliberately, courageously, and with great care for what they describe; her speaking voice conveys the same controlled power and grace, rising from somewhere deep within the core of her being. Forché has read for the Poetry Center in every decade since the 1980s, and you can hear the power of hear voice growing in every return visit. Her January 2020 reading, the first reading for the Poetry Center of the 2020s, is highly recommended listening.