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A Thorny Question: Do Men or Women Make Better Poetry Readers?

A Thorny Question: Do Men or Women Make Better Poetry Readers?

To round of my series introducing you to my new glasses that are able to read my poetry aloud, allowing me to have them recite a poem to an audience even if I'm struggling to memorise it, I am going to ask you a simple question: do you prefer to hear a man reading a poem or a woman reading the same poem?

I'm not posing the question which gender of poet is the best, because that really depends on what your own tastes in poetry are — I personally read a great many more books and pamphlets written by female poets than I do male poets because I tend to prefer the subject matter that they write about and the language the use to express feelings and opinions.

Last week I posted a link to my OrCam glasses reading a simple children's poem, DinDins, the text of which can be found here on my poems page. That recording is using the UK male voice that the OrCam glasses call Brian. I pointed out that Brian could be heard getting a touch tongue-tied over words ending with "-in" as in the poem's title DinDins and in the second line with the word tin (although Brian manages the word "within" with aplomb).

So this week I'm going to demonstrate the American female voice, Kendra, reading the very same poem. Here are the links to Brian's and Kendra's performances:

Personally I do not mind either UK or American voices. On my old laptop I used a UK male voice called "Paul 16k" which is the most human-sounding and most stable voice I have found with screen reading software. Sadly I'm informed that the voice is no longer available. My screen reader, NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) comes with a good range of choices for languages and dialects so I've switched to a female American voice called Zira which is a Microsoft voice. On my Book Reader I use an American female voice which does not seem to have been given a specific name; the similarly-unidentified American male voice sounds a little heavy reading the weekend newspapers. When we look at my other talking devices — kitchen scales, bathroom scales, blood glucose test meter — those are all female voices, the kitchen scales are solidly American, the blood test meter is a mid-Atlantic US-UK fierce lady prompting me to "apply blood now" with a definite emphasis on the "NOW" in a tone that suggests she will chop the finger off if necessary to get her blood; and the bathroom scale is a much softer mid-Atlantic that gently tells me "please step on the scale" before bellowing my weight loudly enough to be heard 6 towns away.

But to get back to poetry, which voice did you find most pleasant to listen to? I'm fairly sure I'll stick with Brian but I will bow to listener preference :)

#Poetry #Men #Women #ComputerVoices #NVDA #Booksense #Microsoft #SpeakYourWeightMachines

Published inblindnessPoetry


  1. I prefer Kendra. Why? The Brian link didn’t work for me. Don’t know why.

    But best of all in this blog is the bit about the voices of all the talking devices in your house. I think you should make a poem about that. It’s such a fabulous audio picture. I can imagine them all conversing when you’re out.

  2. I have long thought that the devices talk amongst themselves when I’m out! I suspect turning this into a poem though would need too much background info explaining to the reader what was going on! I will give it a whirl though 🙂

  3. Charlotte Gann Charlotte Gann

    I prefer Brian – when I heard him on your blog the other day…

  4. Giles Giles

    update for all who were wondering why you couldn’t hear Brian reading DinDins … I forgot to put the link in so it was a link to absolutely nowhere … now corrected 🙂

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