File this as another lesson in being part of the Networked Narratives class — writing something personal is one thing, but reading it out loud another, and the third (still on my list) yet beyond that.

This again like we are finding this course, is something that happens when we let loose a little from the pace of a class defined by objectives and the beat of the syllabus drum, and make room for the unexpected.

During our second “bus tour” where we met some teens who are part of the Young Writers Project, they shared insight into the transformation of writing when they read their poems out loud at an open mic event. And when asked, they read for us in a Google Hangout (this was the part not on our plan).

In our debrief afterward, Mia Zamora and I agreed on the idea of asking our Kean University students to bring an example of their writing to class (without saying why). This past Wednesday in class, we talked about what it means to hear and read written works, and that we were interested if maybe a few of them might be willing to do this. We expected maybe a small handful to say “yes”.

I had been “video calling” in from a meeting in Vancouver and had to leave, but I got a text later from Mia describing the uncanny excitement that erupted because everyone in class wanted to read and hear each other’s readings. The plan we had constructed for the second half of class went out the bus window. And what was shared was not poems of horses and rainbows, but really personal, deep soul bottom reaching stories.

A few of the students have shared audio re-readings in their blogs (check out their works).

Having missed them I wanted to contribute / participate / do what we asked of our students. Teachers who do not do dogfooding are missing out.

This is about my brother David I never knew, I’ve written about him here a few times. I have this letter I had written and read once at his grave, and wanted to read that, but I am traveling and it’s not on my computer. It’s sort of in the featured image used for this post. So I decided just to talk it out as I remember it. I did find something I had written longer ago that more is the brother I imagined rather than the one I never knew.

A number of years ago mother shipped me the rocking chair David loved sitting in, and I see the chair every day in my living room:

David's Chair

David’s Chair flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I have to say that those teens from Vermont were spot on; something elevates the experience of writing something personal, meaningful, when you say it out loud.

I still have that third stage left to try.

Featured Image: Dear David flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. This is the power of voice, Alan — the invitation of the reader/listener to come in closer than one would if reading on the page. Your story reminds me of my wife’s story, and her older sister, with Down’s Syndrome. I appreciate the trust in us, your listeners, to tell your story of your brother and family.
    Thank you

  2. Listening to your “talk” about David was captivating. Thank you for participating in our group sharing experience. There definitely is something about a voice that words alone cannot match.

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