I watched a few different readings on Youtube because the school readings didn’t work with my practice schedule, but I watched some very good and interesting prose readings. The one I decided to write about is by Colleen Derosa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSLXX3r7oyI
The prose reading I watched was a young woman reading a story from the perspective of a 911 dispatcher. It starts light-hearted and witty, as she describes her path from being a nursing school dropout to going to her “cozy and dark corner” in the police station. She says she has always wanted to help people, which led her to nursing school and the police station, but was crippled under the pressure of saving lives and seeing blood. To her logic, this is why she chose to be a dispatched, to be “as far away from the action as possible” but still able to help. She described her daily routine of picking up the phone, talking to those in need and redirecting the call to the appropriate manager. Her mood often affected how she did her job, as is the same with most people and their jobs, which made the story relateable and funny, particularly a line where she talks about the usual call from a parent about their 16-year-old smoking pot.
The reading quickly changed gears when she describes a call she got from a Joe Wilson one day, who called after he fell from a ladder and fractured his leg. Being incoherent and unresponsive, the reader assumed the caller was another drunk caller and didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until later that she found out Joe Wilson had bled to death, and coming to grips with that weight is what set the tone for the rest of the reading. “I was the last voice Joe Wilson heard and the weight of that overwhelms me,” said the reader as the pace of her words reached a frantic level. “I don’t want this big role in this big play. I’d like to pull away, never hear another call again.” Much like she dropped out of nursing school because of the pressure, it seemed the reader was on the route to follow the same pattern at her dispatcher position as the weight of the trauma was getting to be too much.
Her next caller was a woman who was lost driving in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The dispatcher described to the woman how to get to where she wanted to go from where she was, a fairly easy and simple task for her, but the lost woman was very gracious and thankful, saying “thank you and God bless you” at the end of her call. It was that gratitude and that satisfaction of helping people that inspired her not to leave her job yet and instead, found a renewed love for her job and her passion of helping people. She closed with “I am a 911 dispatcher, and I like helping people,” in an upbeat and happy manner.
Not only was this reading effective in provoking emotions of sadness and laughter to listeners and readers, but the delivery of her reading was masterful. To me, the key to an effective prose reading is the tone of the reader and the reader I watched was so good at feeling the emotion of the narrator, speeding up at appropriate points and slowing down at others. This enhanced the impact and emotion of her reading to make it a truly memorable one and one that kept you interested the entire time.
The other interesting thing is that the writer decided to go with a character that is relateable to the audience and readers. Someone who is squeamish to blood and prefers to be away from the action while also wanting to help people is a character that most people can agree with. It was interesting to me that