How to understand one’s inherited voice? For most of my life I have had no clear sense of my own, when and why it settled into what it is now, what part of my ancestry gave it to me. As a child I saw my grandparents only occasionally, and I have only a hazy recollection of how they spoke. When I was a teenager I turned up, from mid-Wales, at my paternal grandparents’ house in Mile End and my grandfather opened the door and said, ‘It’s David, ain’t it?’ in a gravelly sort of Cockney. But growing up in Aberystwyth I don’t recall my father had that voice; perhaps over the years there it softened. My parents went there in their early 20s. I do recall my father not liking my picking up a Welsh accent, so probably I lived a double life of talking one way at home and another with friends. My father’s sister has a Mile End voice I like very much, and I feel I can hear ancestry through her.
I wish I could recall the voices of my mother’s parents and her grandmother, in Leyton. My mother had what I would say now was a neutral kind of voice; her mother had a bit of a rasp (character rather than origin?), her father something softer, but I’m not sure now. He came from the Essex-Suffolk border, was a merchant seaman, then a bus driver. I wonder how they met.
What is it happens to voices? Did university in London change my own? I was the first that I know of, in those recent generations, to go to Grammar School and University.
Of my ancestry never known to me personally, Copelands from Hertfordshire (and originally from Scotland?), Restells probably from Gloucestershire and the Welsh border, Lewis of course possibly Welsh but maybe not, part-Irish in the Harts, farming families from (Stanleys) Staffs/Derbys and (Ponds) Essex. Yelvertons – William a London goldsmith -Browns, and others. How did their voices change through the generations and mixes?
So in the making of poems what voice? What has come through - through generations and through my own life - that has made my poems? Voice and attitude, craft and whim.
- David Hart
- Born Aberystwyth. Student London and Wells;in Birmingham U chaplain, theatre critic, arts administrator, as a poet pt posts at Warwick (Writing Programme) and Birmingham U (Lifelong Learning) U; residencies at poetry festivals, in psychiatric and general hospitals and at Worcester Cathedral; Birmingham Poet Laureate 1997-98, has won 1st and 2nd in National Poetry Comp.. My Running out, Five Seasons Press is a collecting together of work since Setting the poem to words (1998) and Crag Inspector (2002). My ancestry is in London, mainly the East End (and South Essex), where people I can trace came from across the country in the late 18th to mid-19thC. Names include on my father's side: Hart, Restell, Lewis, Yelverton, Copeland, Wrenn,. And on my mother's side: Cole, Brown, Stanley, Pond, Bradley. I am an elected Member of the Welsh Academy. Titanic Cafe poem booklet 2009 and Misky (Flarestack). 2012-13 Library of Birmingham Poet. Library Inspector or The One Book Library (Nine Arches, 2015). Currently working on poems.Email djhart11(at)mac.com.