In my stress I switch to autopilot

So much work is done by an ostensibly calm or affectless surface, through which you glimpse the turbulence underneath.

I tend to worry that my voice isn’t expressive enough, especially when reading off the page; that in my stress I switch to autopilot, and my tone settles into something too regular and smoothed-over. But then I was surprised by something a friend said to me the other day. She’d watched a video of me reading, not the TEDx one, but the talk I did last October at the Radcliffe Institute. What had struck her was the disconnect, as I read some of the more emotional poems, between the evenness of my voice and the agonized looks that periodically passed across my face. I laughed when she said it, because I had been completely unconscious of what my face was doing. If it’s true, that observation does seem to chime with a quality in the poems themselves, where so much work is done by an ostensibly calm or affectless surface, through which you glimpse the turbulence underneath.

Excerpted from an interview by Lily Blacksell in Boston Review.