This past week, I received some very helpful feedback from the members of my At Home/On the Wall independent study. We talked about the poems and short stories that I have written thus far, mostly exploring which pieces they liked or disliked and why they felt that way. I was surprised in some cases; a few of the pieces I felt the most sheepish about were those they appreciated the most and vice versa. There was a lot of discussion of when voice is “convincing” or “authentic” and when it is not. My classmates and advisors generally recognized and confirmed that I was having difficulty speaking through other voices—for example, from the perspective of a resident of Belfast or Israel. Instead, my independent study members agreed that the pieces that were most eloquent or interesting were those in which I spoke from my own perspective. I’m not quite sure what to do with this problem, or whether it really is a problem. On one hand, it seems entirely natural to speak with the most ease in your own voice. Also, I often want to speak the most in my own voice. There is a lot to process at Duke and many aspects of life here that I find quite relevant to my thesis topic of walls and borders. On the other hand, I have so much respect for writers who can slip seamlessly from one voice into another and I would love to develop this ability. I know that it will take time as well as a lot of effort (both in writing and rewriting as well as simply becoming a more acute observer of everyday conversations and speech patterns/dialect). Still, I think that having a versatile voice in my writing is certainly something to strive for in the long run. However, as I start to think about pulling together a collection of pieces from the portfolio, I think that I will tend to select very sparingly from the poems that are not in my own voice. In this case, they just seem to have less of a place in the project than the others.
On another note, I’ve been able to play around with the new camera that I got for this project a few weeks ago. Fall at Duke is such a beautiful time to take pictures, so I’ve been able to use the scenery as an opportunity to experiment with the various settings on the camera in preparation for taking photos of the people I interview as well as of my trip to Israel over Winter Break.