Moved By Words

By Emma Barakat


I first heard about Moving Words from my roommate in college, who asked if I wanted to make some extra money doing some voiceover. Sounded pretty simple to me.

Year one: a small practice room on campus, 5 or 6 people squished in with a piano and a laptop, first time really reading the poems out loud. I wasn’t entirely sure what the process was at that time. It wasn’t until later that I learned these poems would then be sent to animators in Israel who would marry the written and visual elements together– so cool! I saw the fruits of our labor a year later when I provided the videos with the live voice-over during their viewing. I filed it away as an interesting, one-time thing and moved on. Then I was asked to come back and do it again the year after.

Year two: time to rehearse the poems and delve into their form and style, a fancy recording artist with fancier equipment, a basement-turned-studio. Moving Words for me started as a “side gig,” something to help me through the college bills. I didn’t really think of myself as anyone other than the deliverer of someone else’s words. But as we read through the poems during that second year, talking about their content, picking up tempo the second time around, playing with breath, I realized that I had the honor of adding another small piece to the evolving artwork.

I have always been a performer– as a theatre major I acted and sang quite often– but recently I had fallen into the role of theatre technician and thought of myself as less of a creator and more of a facilitator. Additionally, poetry is not my strong suit. I wouldn’t trust my untested opinion to make any sort of comment on someone else’s writing. I have never been a good judge of “good” or “bad” writing. When I worked with Moving Words, none of that mattered. I became a voice in the room, regardless of my past experience. It was unexpected and I felt out of place at first. Sometimes what I said sparked a new outlet, sometimes it was discarded for someone else’s critique. Either way, I had become a part of this project and that is when I realized that everyone has a place when art is being created. You may feel insignificant or inexperienced, but you will find your niche and make your contribution, as long as you understand you should be there too.

I am thankful to Moving Words for giving me, and undoubtedly so many others, such a rewarding experience. The process has been full of moving poets and colorful animators and I am excited to see this year’s results!

***On top of all this, I am not a writer– just another example of the ways ARTS by the People pushes individuals to step outside their comfort zone and try their hand at something new to discover the many different ways that art can be created in the community!