Voice Power

Excellent essay on “The Power of Voice” by Siobhan McHugh. She shares a devastating tape-recording of Jan Graham, an Australian woman who reported the Vietnam War:

She wept as she told of finding the mutilated body of her lover, a Green Beret on surveillance with the US army. I offered to stop the tape, but she wanted to be purged of all the memories, and the worst was yet to come. Have a listen to the three minutes of tape here. It’s barely been edited, apart from where I shortened some of the pauses, as her grief was just unbearable:”

“Jan Graham” (3:18 mp3):

Then she compares that spoken version to the written text of it that appeared in the book Minefields and Miniskirts:

But when I wrote up the interview for a book, the flatness of the words on the page haunted me…

Scan of book page

…Much more to read and think about in this Transom > Sidebar proclaiming “The Power of Voice.”

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Comment (1)

Groundbreaking work; I have never read a more clear analysis of the ‘power of the voice’. Siobhan McHugh has the ability to write about complexities in straightforward and jargon (especially PoMo jargon)-free language. But her real strength is her radio documentary work, I recommend her most recent work “Marrying Out” to anyone interested in the ‘power of the voice’. The two hour documentary deals with the issues of interfaith (i.e. Catholic and Protestant marriage) in Australia, but it reflects the experience of many countries and many times. It deservedly won a gold medal at the most recent New York radio festival.

Comment added by chris g on 04.25.11

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