Looking For My Voice

Audio Literature Being A Writer Classics Eastern European Interviews Visual Art

Marc Eliot Stein with some Brooklyn graffiti

I've been thinking about voice — about my own voice, and about the word 'voice'. I looked up quotes with the word 'voice' and immediately found a bunch that got me thinking. So many worthwhile quotes, in fact, that I stopped reading after I got to these four:

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. — Neil Gaiman

A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together. — Margaret Atwood

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. — Maya Angelou

I learned patience, perseverance, and dedication. Now I really know myself, and I know my voice. It's a voice of pain and victory. — Anthony Hamilton

Pain and victory, indeed. I didn't have to look very hard to find interesting quotes about having a voice, but I am still looking (after all this time, yes, after all these years) for my own voice. And that's a big part of why I am lately obsessed with podcasting, and why I launched not one but two podcasts earlier this year. For all practical purposes, these two podcasts exist for their own reason. The World BEYOND War podcast gives me a chance to speak with some of the most inspiring and politically clued-in people in the world right now about issues and events that matter a lot. This is the podcast I am working hardest on, because I'm doing it on behalf of an organization with an important purpose, and as editor and co-host I have a responsibility to make this podcast as good as it possibly can be.

My Lost Music podcast, meanwhile, is my joyful private descent into the playground of my mind — a realm where I can do anything I want: tell jokes, invite my friends for a chat, experiment with music editing, ponder and pontificate to my heart's content.

I'm working hard to keep up a pace of one new episode a month on each of these two podcasts. The latest World BEYOND War episode is a really good one: we interview Kim Fraczek and Vy Vu, two artists who are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of art and activism together. This is a moving conversation that got me thinking about many new ideas.

The latest Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera podcast is super-exciting too, and will have special resonance for litblog aficionados who may appreciate my reunion with another old-school litblogger, Bud Parr, who once ran the blog Chekhov's Mistress as well as the literary community site Metaxu Cafe. Bud is an opera obsessive like me, and he and I both attended Richard Wagner's entire four-opera cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen" at the Metropolitan here in New York City this year. We talk about all four operas — "Das Rheingold", "Die Walkure", "Siegfried" and the stunning finale "Gotterdammerung" in what turns out to be (appropriately enough) the longest podcast episode of this series so far.

I love both of these podcasts, and I love it that I am pushing the boundaries of my own comfort zone by trying to find my voice, by putting my deeply introverted and painfully self-conscious self in a situation in which I must be "voice-forward". I'm going to be doubling down on podcasting here on Litkicks soon - not ready for my next exciting announcement yet, but let me just say that I will be continuing to push my creative efforts in the direction of podcasting in newer ways, because this format just excites me right now, and I'm having a good time.

I've also got more to say about the phenomenon of having a human voice, and about the psychological undercurrents that come into play when our vocal cords touch the air. This will be the topic of the next Litkicks blog post, coming up shortly, and I plan to invoke some of the surprising ideas of my favorite philosopher William James in this next post. For now, I just want you all to listen to my two podcast episodes, because I think they're both great. Talk to you — or, as what I now know to be my extreme New York accent would pronounce it, TAWK TO YOO all again soon!

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