SWITCHEROO with Bernadette Hall

Bernadette Hall

Why not imagine you’re someone else, speak in another voice, from another time, from another side of the gender fence, perhaps – just do a switch.

I’d suggest locating the new you by voice, rather than by trying to construct a character entirely from the outside. First jot down some fascinating words. Maybe you’ve found them in an Elizabethan poem or in the translation of a Peruvian novel. Now imagine ‘you’ have  turned up from another story, it could be from history, art, literature, fairy tale, music, whatever excites. Now speak (write) ‘your’ version of a small moment imagined from that story, pulling in the vocabulary you’ve previously jotted down.

You can find an example in my poem ‘ Just a short note from the watchman, another minor character’ on-line in Trout 17. I’m writing a short sequence called Footnotes to the  Oresteia and the watchman emerged, speaking in a surprisingly elaborate fashion.  I have to say that I love him to bits.

Bernadette Hall taught at the IIML in 2011 while Chris Price was in Menton. She also edited the Best New Zealand Poems that year. As a curtain raiser for National Poetry Day on 27 July, Writers on Mondays will introduce a baker’s dozen of the 25 poets whose work was chosen by  Bernadette. We welcome Hera Bird, Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle, Janis Freegard, Rob Hack, Dinah Hawken, Anna Jackson, Helen Lehndorf, Kate McKinstry, Bill Manhire, Harvey Molloy, Marty Smith, Ranui Taiapa and Tim Upperton. Full WOM programme details here.

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