Our reading aloud to each other was accidental. The TV was inconveniently located in our tiny kitchen, with its hard chairs. We preferred the living room, listening to the radio. I mentioned a poetry event I attended that featured Mary Oliver. Robyn was familiar with her poetry, having read one at her late husband's memorial. I read Oliver's "West Wind" and reread it out loud to her. Quite spontaneously we began to discuss it. Much to our delight, we seemed smart and literate.

Reading aloud has become a lost pastime. We can feel grown up reading to our children and flounder terribly reading to an adult. Childhood memories of mispronouncing words in class and being reprimanded by the teacher and teased by fellow students haunt us. I felt self-conscious in my first attempt with Robyn and I  stumbled over the language. But a simple "Am I doing OK?" kept me going.

I enjoyed hearing what Robyn had to say. I was startled at how differently she viewed the piece. She was expanded by her analysis and language. I saw her shed an old skin and grow into a new one that sparkled with curiosity.

A word or a phrase sparked us to articulate thoughts safely aired in the company of a true listener, someone you trust to receive and hold what you say, and to let you finish, completely.

For us, reading to one another paves a way to be together — rekindle our relationship, an activity to look forward to where we share a world of words and ideas and give thought to complicated subjects.  We look forward to our reads; a time away from electronics, time to be intimate, to relax and to clean out the fogged lenses through which we see each other.

"Please read to me", "Whose turn is it this evening?", "Do you want to start?, "Where did we leave off?" have become invitations to begin something anew, to join us to the literature and to each other.  

With a Perspective, I'm Michael Zimmerman.

Michael Zimmerman is a telecommunications consultant living in Marin.

Listening Out Loud 19 September,2013perspectives
  • Bravo. Great stuff.

  • Peter Heyworth

    Inspiring and insightful. Let’s find time soon to read poetry and spin some vinyl.

  • Jon Zimmerman

    Way to Go DaddyO’ – Great Perspective.
    Feel free to drop by anytime to read to me and the kids. Hope you like Judy Bloom.

  • henry

    very nice.
    maybe bella and i will find time to give it a try.

  • hillair bell

    We love being read to by audio books on long road trips and often chose something enormous that can last the whole trip. But it isn’t the same as reading something one has chosen to read to the other, or hearing something delivered especially to me. I’m sure we’ll be delving into our library with a different idea in mind in the near future. Thanks for putting your perspective out here for us to enjoy.

  • Hollysg

    Recently, on a drive across the country, I read Great Expectations to my friend when it was her turn to drive. She was about half-way through the novel, one I hadn’t read in probably 30 years. The characters came alive differently as heard my voice become that of theirs. A lost art indeed and so glad you have brought this back to your lives.

    • Michael

      So nice to hear from you. Where have you been? I miss seeing you at our meeting. How are things going?
      Call me 415 388 4499

  • Marcie

    I love reading aloud – at meetings, in classes, with one person to discuss what caught our attention…i’ve loved reading menus at restaurants to my far-sighted dates, although now I’m becoming the far sighted one…thank you for the sweet lens into creating more intimacy…

  • Paul Siegel

    Very nice perspective. I will try it out with my wife!

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor