Notes | 4 Mar 2017

Poetry and literary websites that are new to me:

Please take time to read and then follow all submission guidelines. Some publications have demographic or geographic limitations. Some charge submission fees.

Voices. Over my years of participating in poetry, I have met nine or ten poets who were open enough to admit they hear voices or heard voices in the past. I was a member of that club.

From early in 1990 to summer in 1999, I heard a voice behind my right ear regularly. The voice was not there all the time, but much of the day. It was like a tiny speaker was in my skull facing my brain. There was a vibration to the experience of hearing the voice as well.

The voice did not tell me anything harmful. On occasions it kept me out of danger, which gave me a belief it was a Lincolnesque “better angel” of my nature appearing for my benefit to keep me going to some greater future. Most often the voice just rambled. It did write a number of my better received poems during this period. The voice never said, “If you build it, he will come.” though, having seen Field of Dreams and being a baseball fan, I wish it had.

I was in therapy during this period of time, but I was too unsure of the therapy world to trust the practitioners with the knowledge of the voice. I feared that would get me “put away” or prescribed more nasty pharmaceuticals than I was on at the time. This was a time of great stress, shame and grief for me.  I do not know how much stress, shame and grief change body chemistry in the brain or if that combination alone can cause a voice to appear. I choose to believe that my own sense of self-preservation created the voice to keep me away from suicide and other self-destructive behaviors like vast quantities of beer.

I have been extra voice free since the summer 1999 on a day hike in the mountainous Carson Forest above Taos, NM.  It was on a hike that I came to some internal resolution that was more feeling than knowing and the voice said goodbye.  In the letting go, I felt the voice leave like a bird releasing a clawed grip on my shoulder and with powerful wing-flaps fly away—it was that tangible.

This is my story. Each case is as different as the person who has it.

If any of the readers of this post hears voices, I wish you the best in living with them and negotiating the world at large. There was a time we would have been considered prophets of god or holy people to be revered. Now, we tend to be artists, author/poets and performing artists.

Continuing the interview questions. #6.

If I could wave a magic wand and place a poetry book into every high school English classroom as required reading, which one would it be and why?

Two books come to mind. The Blue Buick by B. H. Fairchild and fuel by Naomi Shihab Nye.  I think it is important for students to study a balance between male and female writers for both the subject and the mood (emotion) of the poems by each.

— Kenneth P. Gurney

One thought on “Notes | 4 Mar 2017

  1. Kenneth, For what it’s worth, I have heard the “music of the spheres” from an electric heater and a chorus of human voices from other humming electric/electronic technology. I like what John Persig says in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: something to the effect that excluding God from the manifold of a BMW motorbike lessens God.


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