Most poems are written to be recited by a single voice, even when, as is commonly the case, the words are presented in both the first person (the speaker) and the third person (the narrator). Few of the great classic works require many voices, Elliot’s ‘Waste Land’ being an exception that tests the rule. With the advent of digital technology it is now a simple matter to record and replay recitations and  to discover that readings using more than one voice heighten the challenge and the reward. In fact in the absence of co-readers it is possible to feel a sense of deprivation, and the urge to expand the repertoire of group readings can become irresistible.

The Edinburgh U3A Poetry 4 group is exploring possible ways to co-ordinate many-voiced readings, to date these inlcude:-

1) Dividing poems between speaker and narrator.

2) Cycling the stanzas around the group.

3) Finding poems written for more than one voice.

4) Writing poems for many voices.

The list on the audio player will be constantly renewed to play 10 samples that meet our joint approval.



Currently the active members of the group are Douglas Hall, Philip Hutton, Tony Lawrence and Loretta Whitcomb. Meeting are monthly. The main activity is reading and reciting classic poems and poems written by the members and their associates and the aim is to explore the relationships between the written and the spoken word. To this end a small body of examples will be maintained on this website to illustrate the challenges presented and overcome by group reading.


Edinburgh U3A Poetry 4

The poem below, intended to be a Ghazal, was written before the sacred meaning of the Ghazal and indeed its complex rules were understood by the writer and it has clearly fallen well below the standard of acceptability.

The Writing on the Wall

Those ancient Persian knew a thing or two!

This is the hardest task we've had to do;


those cryptic meanings hidden deep beneath

polysyllabic meter, rhyming glue,


I saw the only route that I could take,

sitting one evening, watching Dr Who.



to go in time to some-when long ago;

find old engravings in an antique loo.


they are your own, though they might be

the earliest known thoughts of Kung Fu Chu.*


you want to say, but who can prove a thing?

The copyright's expired, he will not sue.

                 So there!

*Confucius he say ….