By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 12-24-2023
I am a word lover and quite indiscriminate about the objects of my affection.
I love almost all of them: words so large they need wheelbarrows to move them, little, foreign, high or lowbrow, old or new.
I love the way they pattern pages and the way they taste in my mouth.
But most of all I love what they do: communicate.
The family mythology has it I learned to read at three and haven’t stopped since. The last part is certainly true.
I remember my early books and the feelings associated with them. Words were wonderful then and still are many years later.
In my teen years I was sure I would be beautiful, an actress, a famous novelist and probably all three at once.
However, life has a way of refining aspirations! What actually happened was I went off to university, got a degree with a double major in English and psychology, and ultimately became a teacher.
I taught high school level English and drama* for many years where my knowledge, respect and love of language grew.
In particular I became deeply interested in how writing for performance, plays, poems, presentations, speeches or stories to be spoken aloud, differs from language solely for print.
* (I am still very much involved in drama. A few years ago, I directed a production of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas' masterpiece Under Milk Wood in the small sea-side community I live in. A wonderful experience! And here's the very generous write-up in our local paper, The Mangawhai Focus.)
This web site had a gestation period equivalent to an elephant.
(That's two years - a long time.)
It started with a growing appreciation of the power of internet. I could find biographies of artists, complete texts, suggestions for lesson plans, poems, writer's forums to share my work with ... Intoxicating stuff. I loved it.
One day the thought occurred that if others could share their skills and knowledge online, why not me?
This idea intensified after spending time looking for collections of funeral poetry.
I wanted something to include in a eulogy I was preparing for my sister and like many people I was searching without a clear idea of what I was looking for. My blundering would stop when the 'right poem' appeared. Only it didn't.
I found lots of poems however there was always a but disqualifying them.
This one was too sentimental. That, too high-flown. There were mawkish, mewling pieces railing against birth, death, and everything in between. Others were trite with ghastly rhyme schemes and still more, although beautiful in expression, said things I didn't want to say.
There was a place, I decided, for an eclectic gathering of 'death-themed' poems chosen to fit an audience similar to myself. Perhaps I could do that?
As you can see, I did.
You can check those funeral poems by clicking the link. If you poke around the page you'll find links to more poems for eulogies, poem podcasts, sample eulogies, information on how to write a eulogy, and inspirational quotations.
Yes, that beginning idea grew!
The overall theme of write-out-loud.com is linked to public speaking because I love it and it's something I've long given folk assistance with professionally and privately. Their most frequent calls for help were variations on:
If you click the links, you'll see I used their questions as a prompt to provide answers for a much larger audience!
In addition, I write speeches for myself which I used to give at Toastmasters* when I was a member, and now give at my Speaker's Group and other places, speeches for other people, poetry, short stories, voice-over scripts and of course, all the pages on this website.
*The photo is me leading a session on impromptu speaking for the Div.E (Wellington) Toastmasters Conference in 2015.
Recently I've spent a very enjoyable time helping to establish a speaker's group* with a lovely collection of people drawn from the mainly rural area of New Zealand where I now live.
The certificate above was a delightful surprise presentation at our last meeting of the year. Everyone got one, each listing what they'd contributed.
*The group is, as yet, too small to form a Toastmaster Club. You need 20 for that. We have around 10 committed members.
Update: It's now the end of 2023 and our group, still small, is going strong. I love the diverse range of things we get involved in: preparing and delivering special occasion speeches, poetry readings, debates, community workshops on public speaking and more.
Since 'going live' on the wonderful world wide web I've made contact with people like you everywhere.
Some have written asking for poem suggestions for a funeral.
Another sent an invitation to teach a 5-day workshop for English teachers in Russia, which I accepted.
Others have just wanted to say 'thank-you' for information that met their needs.
And some have sent in their own speeches to share like these sample eulogies.
As the Disney song says, 'It's a small world after all'.
If you'd like to contact me, I'd love to hear from you.
Maybe you'd like some personal speech help?
I am happy to give suggestions. However, if you need more than just a hand, I offer a custom speech writing service.
You can find out more by clicking the link or the button.
Or maybe you'd like to share some of your own work?
Perhaps you have ideas for content or comments on existing content?
Please make them. The gift of your two minutes (or more!) is invaluable!
You've got my thanks in advance
PS. Like you, I loathe spam. Be assured your email address will never be passed on and neither will I directly contact you without your specific invitation to do so.