Happy Monday! Three of our winter classes are starting next week, and on Saturday, February 8, Laura Brown Lavoie is teaching a one day Workshop in Spoken Text. The class is being offered on a sliding scale ($25-60), and this is a great opportunity to work with an incredible writer and performer. Laura asked me to convey that the class is open to all ages and levels of experience. And people who don’t like to read out loud are also very welcome– there are numerous ways to consider voice and sound without actually performing your work.

I had the chance to interview Laura. I asked, How does a physical voice affect the way you write, or affect the way you experience writing?

The sound of a word, how it rounds or squares with words next to it– sound directs my sentences immensely. Depending on the genre I’m in at a given moment, the writing process is more or less vocal– if it’s a performance piece, I tend to edit out loud, to the point that a finished draft is half-memorized already. If it’s a dense little story with lots of roundabout sentences, and therefore probably something I’d rather give to people on the page, I still often read parts out loud to make sure there’s enough cement between the syllables.

My mom read loads of books to me when I was a kid. (Even when I was more of an adolescent, and would have been mortified if my peers could have seen me: under the covers in my mom’s bed all zoned-out to the sound of The Mists of Avalon or the Narnia books…) So I think hearing literature is really fun and comforting to me. Animating words you’re hearing into coherent images and stories in your head is a huge effort of concentration and imagination, but it’s really rewarding. At this point, with poetry, I can’t enjoy it all the way until I’ve heard it out loud– either reading it to myself or (ideally) having the poet read it to me. I do read a lot of novels quietly to myself, but the best passages at LEAST make me groan and often I gotta read it to someone.

Voice is instant gratification in writing, the place where your ideas start to really take up space in this world. It’s pretty thrilling.

Laura Brown-Lavoie is a fiction writer, poet, and performer here in Providence, RI. Her stories and poems have appeared in some journals, but mostly she likes reading out loud. She represented Providence as a finalist at the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam and the 2011 National Poetry Slam, and is currently the is co-slammaster at the Providence Poetry slam, where she also runs the youth slam program. When she isn’t writing, Laura works as a farmer, growing food and raising chickens on a vacant lot in Providence, and selling the produce to her neighbors.