Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Giving Voice

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‘I want to give voice to the voiceless’.
We often hear writers saying this as they describe their work.
Why does it make me so uncomfortable?
Why do my toes curl?
I think it’s because it sounds like, well, the writer has the voice and those other poor sods don’t.
Well isn’t it that EVERYONE has a voice, but we just aren’t listening. So maybe it’s not about giving voice to the voiceless at all, but about LISTENING.
Now that’s a concept I can get down with. If more people listened, then these so-called voiceless people would be heard loud and clear. And I bet those ‘voiceless’ people are heard within their families or by their pals. It’s the arrogance of the phrase ‘giving voice to the voiceless’ that rubs me wrong. It makes writers sound as if it’s our job to sprinkle fairy dust upon people of our choosing and by doing this, pull them into focus. Everyone is fully in focus; it’s the observers who don’t see.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Ann Ireland

Ann Ireland is the author of A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor and Exile. Her most recent novel is The Blue Guitar. She lives in Toronto.

Go to Ann Ireland’s Author Page