Finding the Poetry

In thinking about our work as voiceover actors and our client needs, we have to surface the truth that’s been buried. If ad agencies are thinking about poetry, as voice actors we must also keep this top of mind. Below is an insightful article written by Tom Elia, VP and Creative Director at COLLINS that delves into why poetry, authenticity, and new forms of expressing truth matter. We couldn't agree more; what are your thoughts? 

Artwork by Zuzanna Rogatty, Senior Designer at COLLINS

Find the Poets

By Tom Elia is a VP, Creative Director at COLLINS.

I get in trouble when I don’t read poetry. Case in point: One day, I was bouncing a script for a tech client off a colleague I trust. “Starts off interesting,” he said. “It ends well, too. But that line in the middle — eesh. That’s not language. That’s jargon.”

I felt that twinge of panic you get when you’re on an airplane and you think you left your oven on. I retraced my steps through the script. Sure enough, nestled in the middle were a handful of words that reeked of PowerPoint. Instead of saying something new about the client in a way people could understand, they screamed, “This is techy lingo to make sure you know we’re talking about techy stuff.”

I immediately saw what I’d done. I’d read the client website and every industry article to understand what I had to say — but I hadn’t read any poetry to think of a new way to say it.

The first thing I read after that meeting was a poem shared with me years ago, after a similar misstep, called “Working Together” by David Whyte:

We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again.

The visible
and the invisible

working together
in common cause,

to produce
the miraculous.

I am thinking of the way
the intangible air

passed at speed
round a shaped winged

easily
holds our weight.

So may we, in this life
trust

to those elements
we have yet to see

or imagine,
and look for the true

shape of our own self,
by forming it well

to the great
intangibles about us.

It’s an amazing piece of writing, but just hold onto it for a bit — I’ll come back to it in a minute.

If industries are good at one thing, it’s generating their own lingo. I get it. Having a shared language creates a useful shorthand, and in select instances, it can be wonderful. (I smile every time a waiter in a diner barks my rye toast order out as “Whiskey down!”) But, as a rule, corporate buzzwords rarely speak to — let alone stir — the humanity in any of us.

Enter poetry, language’s attempt to capture the essence of an experience. At its best — from Angelou to Yeats — you realize that what you’ve just read is how you’ve always felt, you just never had words to describe it before.

The same goal should apply to writing for a brand. The language we owe the people who see our work can’t be made by rejiggering stock phrases. Instead, we have to surface the truth that’s been buried and forgotten inside those stock phrases poetically — with words that are fresh, meaningful, and insightful.

It reminds me of the old quote, “If you want to know what’s going on in a city, find the poets.” These days I like to paraphrase it as, “If you want to find new ways to talk about what’s going on in an industry, find the poets.”

That’s why I turned to that David Whyte poem to fix my script. It’s why I find it helpful to read new poets, old poets, famous poets, forgotten poets, good poets — and, yes, even a few bad poets. To be clear, I’m not setting out to write a “poem” with a rhyme scheme or in couplets; rather, I’m hoping to open my ears to new forms of expressing a truth, which, I believe, is what every client wants for their brand.

Now, I’d like you to think back to “Working Together,” but with this new bit of information: It was written by Whyte for The Boeing Company to use at an internal event marking the introduction of a new 777 passenger jet.

Yes, it’s language for a techy corporate client.

No, there isn’t a single buzzword in sight.

But, it surfaces deeper truths about aeronautics — the mystery of flight, creativity and collaboration — in a way that’s fresh for the industry while also timeless to anyone who reads it.

The writing is so strong, it doesn’t lose an ounce of magic when you realize it’s for Boeing. If anything, you start to look at — and listen to — Boeing with a different appreciation.

This is why David Whyte has become one of many poets I make sure to read (and re-read) before every project, along with Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Rae Armantrout, and countless others.

At worst, this habit gives me an excuse to reconnect with great pieces of writing.

At best, it keeps me out of trouble by pointing to new language that’s always evolving to express whatever people (and hopefully brands) need to say.

Related Classes at Voice One

Free Vocal Workouts with Sally

Narration Simple with Pam Lorence

Script Analysis with Sally Clawson

Commercial Blueprint with Sally Clawson

Read Next

Voice One Verve Articles

Article

Guess the Actors Behind These Iconic '90s and '00s Cartoon Characters

Check out this article from People Magazine to see if you can guess the actors behind iconic '90s and '00s cartoon characters!

April 16, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 15-21) and what's coming your way next week.

April 15, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 8-14) and what's coming your way next week.

April 8, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 1-7) and what's coming your way next week.

April 1, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (March 25-31) and what's coming your way next week.

March 25, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (March 18-24) and what's coming your way next week.

March 18, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (March 11-17) and what's coming your way next week.

March 11, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (March 4-10) and what's coming your way next week.

March 4, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (February 26-March 3) and what's coming your way next week.

February 26, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (February 19-26) and what's coming your way next week.

February 19, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (February 12-18) and what's coming your way next week.

February 12, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (February 5-11) and what's coming your way next week.

February 5, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (January 29- February 4) and what's coming your way next week.

January 29, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (January 22-28) and what's coming your way next week.

January 22, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (January 15-21) and what's coming your way next week.

January 15, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (January 8-14) and what's coming your way next week.

January 8, 2024
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (January 2-7) and what's coming your way next week.

January 2, 2024
Read More
Article

Happy New Year

Here's to 2024!

December 27, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (December 11-17) and what's coming your way next week.

December 11, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (December 4-10) and what's coming your way next week.

December 4, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (November 20-26) and what's coming your way next week.

November 27, 2023
Read More
Article

Our Heartfelt Gratitude this Thanksgiving

We wish you happiness, success, and good company this Thanksgiving

November 22, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (November 20-26) and what's coming your way next week.

November 20, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (November 13-19) and what's coming your way next week.

November 13, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (November 6-12) and what's coming your way next week.

November 6, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (October 30-November 5) and what's coming your way next week.

October 30, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (October 23-29) and what's coming your way next week.

October 23, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (October 16-22) and what's coming your way next week.

October 16, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (October 9-15) and what's coming your way next week.

October 9, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (September 25-October 2) and what's coming your way next week.

September 25, 2023
Read More
Interview

Celebrating Hispanic Voice Actors

Celebrating Hispanic Voice Actors for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 20, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (September 11-17) and what's coming your way next week.

September 11, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (September 11-24) and what's coming your way next week.

September 11, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (September 5-10) and what's coming your way next week.

September 5, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (August 28-September 3) and what's coming your way next week.

August 28, 2023
Read More
Article

2023 Summer Fast Track Recap

A video recap of 2023 Summer Fast Track

August 23, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (August 21-28) and what's coming your way next week.

August 21, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (August 14-20) and what's coming your way next week.

August 14, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (August 7-13) and what's coming your way next week.

August 7, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (July 31-August 6) and what's coming your way next week.

July 31, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (July 24-30) and what's coming your way next week.

July 24, 2023
Read More
Article

SAG-AFTRA Strike

What does the SAG-AFTRA strike mean for Voice Actors? NAVA shares a helpful resource.

July 19, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (July 17-23) and what's coming your way next week.

July 17, 2023
Read More
Article

Summer Fast Track at Voice One!

Flashback to Summer Fast Track 2022!

July 12, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (July 10-16) and what's coming your way next week.

July 10, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (July 3-9) and what's coming your way next week.

July 3, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (June 26-July 2) and what's coming your way next week.

June 26, 2023
Read More
Article

2023 Emmy Awards: 148 Character VO Actors Nominated

With 148 Character VO Emmy Award nominees, who stands out and why?

June 21, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (June 19-25) and what's coming your way next week.

June 19, 2023
Read More
Article

Has AI Put VO Jobs 'On the Chopping Block'?

Video game voice actors discuss Artificial Intelligence and its impact on Voiceover

June 14, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (June 12-18) and what's coming your way next week.

June 12, 2023
Read More
Article

Kayleigh McKee Interview at Anime Riverside

The story behind why Kayleigh McKee decided to become a voice actor.

June 7, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (June 5-11) and what's coming your way next week.

June 5, 2023
Read More
Article

AI and the Voiceover Industry

How do voice actors protect themselves with the rise of AI?

May 31, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (May 30-June 4) and what's coming your way next week.

May 30, 2023
Read More
Article

The Elder Scrolls Online Voice Over Deep Dive

A deep dive with ZeniMax Online Studio’s VO Lead, Becky Ichnoski about how all of Tamriel’s characters get their voices!

May 24, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (May 22-28) and what's coming your way next week.

May 22, 2023
Read More
Article

Man gives funny voiceovers to animals and it's making the internet crack up

A hilarious social media handle has dedicated itself to narrating animals' inner monologues.

May 17, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (May 15-21) and what's coming your way next week.

May 15, 2023
Read More
Article

Celebrating AAPI Voice Actors!

Celebrating AAPI Voice Actors for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 10, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (May 8-14) and what's coming your way next week.

May 8, 2023
Read More
Article

Finding the Poetry

If ad agencies are thinking about poetry, as voice actors we must also keep this top of mind.

May 3, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (May 1-7) and what's coming your way next week.

May 1, 2023
Read More
Article

Voicing concerns: are big-name actors ruining animated movies?

Pros and cons of celebrity voice acting

April 26, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 24-30) and what's coming your way next week.

April 24, 2023
Read More
Article

Celebrating National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, Sally shares her love of poetry.

April 19, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 17-23) and what's coming your way next week.

April 17, 2023
Read More
Article

World Voice Day 2023

Your Voice Matters! Celebrating World Voice Day 2023

April 12, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 10-16) and what's coming your way next week.

April 10, 2023
Read More
Article

Studio Efficiency by Jim Edgar

Thoughts on Flow and Workflow

April 5, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (April 3-9) and what's coming your way next week.

April 3, 2023
Read More
Classes

Youth Summer VO Program 2023

The Youth VO Program returns this Summer! And it's better than EVER!

March 29, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Mar 27-Apr 2) and what's coming your way next week.

March 27, 2023
Read More
Interview

Voice Actress Sarah Natochenny and the Importance of Ash Ketchum

Sarah Natochenny voiced Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum for 17 years. Q&A.

March 22, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Mar 20-26) and what's coming your way next week.

March 20, 2023
Read More
Article

HBO’s The Last of Us: Voice Actor Cameos You Might've Missed

Warning -- spoilers ahead! Click to read about voice actor cameos in The Last of Us.

March 15, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Mar 13-19) and what's coming your way next week.

March 13, 2023
Read More
Article

Embrace Equity for International Women's Day

Everyone can embrace and actively support equity.

March 8, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Mar 6-12) and what's coming your way next week.

March 6, 2023
Read More
Article

Let Your Passion Give You Confidence

How to harness your confidence.

March 1, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Feb 27 - Mar 5) and what's coming your way next week.

February 27, 2023
Read More
Article

What Power Sounds Like

Samara Bay Wants to Change What Power Sounds Like

February 22, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Feb 20-26) and what's coming your way next week.

February 20, 2023
Read More
Article

2023 Super Bowl Recap

Highlights from the 2023 Super Bowl

February 15, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Feb 13-19) and what's coming your way next week.

February 13, 2023
Read More
Article

2023 Super Bowl Watching Guide

We've created a guide you can use for your Super Bowl watching party!

February 8, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Feb 6-12) and what's coming your way next week.

February 6, 2023
Read More
Article

25 Quotes About Improv

From Robin Williams to Tina Fey, here are 25 reasons why improv will not only make you a better actor, but will change your life!

February 1, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Jan 30-Feb 5) and what's coming your way next week.

January 30, 2023
Read More
Article

Tips for Video Game Voice Actors

Words of wisdom on the video game industry from Voice over veterans.

January 25, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Jan 23-29) and what's coming your way next week.

January 23, 2023
Read More
Article

Instructor Interview: Monday Night Acting at Voice One

Erika sits down with Marvin Greene to discuss the importance of studying the craft, his favorite breakthroughs, and more!

January 18, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Jan 16-22) and what's coming your way next week.

January 16, 2023
Read More
Article

Overcoming Audition Anxiety -- WITH IMPROV!

Guest post: Overcoming audition anxiety with improv!

January 11, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Jan 9-15) and what's coming your way next week.

January 9, 2023
Read More
Article

Simple Steps to Help Achieve Your Voice Over Goals

Get out of your own way and own your year in VO by applying this advice. Here are four simple steps to help you reach your goals!

January 4, 2023
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Jan 2-8) and what's coming your way next week.

January 2, 2023
Read More
Event

Voice One's 2022 Year-In-Review

Here's a look back at the fun we had in 2022

December 29, 2022
Read More
Classes

This week at Voice One

A quick look at what's new, what's here this week (Dec 12-18) and what's coming your way next week.

December 12, 2022
Read More