Voice in Writing​

Last week while watching Chimamanda Adichie’s TEDtalk video about “The danger of a single story” I was able to relate to many of her experiences and agreed to the statements she made about the dangers of a single story.  Growing up in Haiti, my parents always enrolled me in private schools, I enjoyed summers in resorts and lived a life unlike many others. In my younger childhood years, I was unaware of Haiti’s poverty and political destruction until I went to other places for holiday and other people would talk about terrible things happening in the country. My parents, for the most part, kept me sheltered from that reality because they planned to move out of the country in the future. After living in both Canada and the United States, I have a story about Haiti that many other people would not assume. I suppose people would expect a story of poverty, misfortune or any other stereotypes that connect when it comes to the country and living there.

Nevertheless, I, like Chimamanda have a voice in the story of Haiti that is unconventional and different from stories in the news, or books. If I were to write a truthful story about my childhood in Haiti it would sound natural to me, however, to be more persuasive for others I would probably write a different story about a reality that fits more into the stereotype of a Haitian childhood. This is a point Peter Elbow makes in his article Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries when he referenced philosopher, Aristotle. He states,

We can now see that a writer must disguise his art and give the impression of speaking naturally and not artificially. Naturalness is persuasive, artificiality is the contrary; for our hearers are prejudiced and think we have some design against them. (1404b)

The point of voice in writing is further elaborated in the text. Elbow discusses the difference between writing (text) and voice ( language). He discusses in great details about the way writers have an authentic voice and one that is tuned and polished in order to create writing styles that are appropriate in context ( i.e classroom, teacher expectations, etc.)

Another point Elbow referenced in his article is from associate professor Darsie Bowden who argues that,

…voice is alive in our classrooms. Students at all levels instinctively talk and think about voice, or their voice in their writing, and tend to believe they have a real or true self—despite the best efforts of some of their teachers (170).

It is in a classroom setting that many students, unfortunately, lose their voice because teachers tell them that they should write in ways that fit categories, and proper writing formats. Students are adversely affected in this way because they are no longer able to express themselves in writing and ultimately their true voice is silenced. They then go on to write stories or text that simply gets them a satisfactory grade.


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