William Blake’s “The Book of Thel” by the Blake Voice project of the Blake Society
“This recording is part of the Blake Voice project of the Blake Society.
The aim of this project is to produce new recordings of Blake’s works that they can be enjoyed freely by anyone. If you would like find out more about being involved in this project and making a recording please contact [email protected]. This video will shortly have a link to the mp3 file so that if you enjoyed it online you can download the reading. Below is some information on the reader and what it felt like to make this recording.
After Nick Duncan suggested the grand project of The Blake Voice endeavor — to make audio recordings of William Blake’s oeuvre — I delightedly launched into it with my English literature class at Tennnessee Technological University in the summer of 2012 with the short poem The Book of Thel. I had students choose character roles based on gender through a lottery split up between male and female readers to accord with the designated gender of characters in the poem — though I later realized that the “Cloud” was designated as male in the poem, and it was read by a female. Nonetheless, by this whimical process, the casting ended up being perfect, with the student playing “Thel” — Macy — being the spitting image of my conception of the real “Thel”!
It was very instructive to read the poem dialogically, and it helped me see that the poem works very well in a Bakhtinian sense of structured dialogue. Reading the poem aloud also helped students to understand the poem much better than reading it on their own, silently!
I have continued the Blake Voice project this semester with poems from The Rossetti Manuscript — read by members of my English major survey class, and poetically inclined friends and former students at my university. For my poet friends even the process of reading a short poem opened up, in many cases, their conception of Blake and his poetry.
Enthusiasm for the project has grown, and I applied for a grant from within my university to purchase new microphones and equipment for the Recording and Television Studio to continue the project, while increasing student involvement by having them be responsible for assigning parts, etc. Our next proposed project is Blake’s great illuminated poem Milton, and undergraduate students as well as a graduate student, Elizabeth Baker, whose thesis is proposed on Blake’s Milton, will be involved.” [via]