Category Archives: sound

a tree speaks

In November there will be an exhibition at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh called Grown Together. Timed to coincide with the launch of the Tree Charter, this will feature the work of nineteen artists with a shared interest in trees.  I’ve been working on video material for a loop which will be part of a small installation.  The videos combine ambient audio captured in some local woodlands with animated  text and readings of some of my poems from the small collection called Drawing breath.

Here’s a test piece for one of my videos.  (Please ignore the headphone graphic near the start – it’s just there to indicate that there is audio to passing visitors).

The poem takes a tree’s-eye-view of passing humans, coming around to memory and how remembering works, or doesn’t…

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eyeline

I originally wrote this intending to send it in to Visual Verse for a great image of a horse by Bruce Connew. I never got around to it, and I’d forgotten about the poem until I happened on it today. Anyway, I still kinda like it, I hope you will too. As often from me, there’s also some sciencey inspiration – see below…

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Karen McComb, who heads the research group and co-lead author of the study, said “Horses may have adopted an ancestral ability for reading emotional cues in other horses to respond appropriately to human facial expressions during their co-evolution. Alternatively, individual horses may have learned to interpret human expressions during their own lifetime.”
Source: ‘Horses can recognise human emotion, study shows’ Guardian 10/2/2016

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eyeline

scary sounds tinder
my right brain.
my left eye
flares.

you. your voice. angry. anger. danger. is it?
do i? do we? does the herd?
set, set, set.
my heart revs.

a dren a lin.
ready, twitch, ready.
muscles cinch.
ears prime.

time made your mood our threat.
your anger the wolf on the prairie.
your impatience an adder under-grass.
your oath hard iron in flight.

so if you don’t need to, just don’t.
step calm. breathe gentle.
speak less. listen more.
hear. my. gaze.

quietly.

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Sounds of rain

drops

click to listen:

Sounds of rain

     Staccato taps syncopate
           justification on your cautious hood.

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Stravaig

script1_verticalI accidentally attended a workshop at the very excellent Scottish Poetry Library yesterday. ‘Accidentally’ because the workshop wasn’t exactly about what I though it was – my fault for not reading the small print in sufficient detail once again!  I should have looked up acrostic first (well, now I know…)

stravaigWhat the workshop was about was about image and poetry, but in the sense of using text and other elements to make a poem that is spatial as well as (or maybe more than) temporal.  Well, so to speak…

…clear as mud? Think ‘concrete poetry’ (for example).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, however, so I decided to give it a go…

To be honest, I felt a bit at sea – I’ve always found this kind of thing quite difficult to get into. But in any event it was good to grapple with it with people who didn’t.  I was impressed by the range of visual and crafting, as well as writing skills that other participants brought to the party. (Of course, having actually got what the workshop was to be about initially, it probably was more likely that they would know where they were at!)

As always though, it’s grand to have a chance to see shiny minds at work. I was struck by a kind of ‘lightness of step’ that I admire a great deal in much of what people were doing. Watching (and listening) to this I sometimes feel I’m gazing at dancers in point shoes bourrée their way past a place where I’ve stomped in with wellies and a view to some spadework.

This morning, however, I thought of a way of bringing some of my partly developed efforts from yesterday together. Of course it took about three and a half hours to make – but here it is, in all its thirty second splendour!  With thanks to Helen and Malcy for a very educational and interesting experience, and to all the other participants, for being rather amazing…

 Stravaig:

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Curlew

An echoed note bends from my
throated whisper to pipe your name.

In the morning I will see
A curlew fly with purpose, horizon
Perpendicular to the driven path.

His bill less hooked than remembered,
His flight as strong as I recall,
His ghost cry stilled in passage.

RSPB’d data beats decreasing,
Awaits a weirder silent season,
As we glance shivers when you sing.

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Beech pools

Inquisitions of rain discover
Cusps in Brighty’s surface.

Shallow lacunae warmed
By fallen silks of beech.

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The Sound of Merlin

merlin

A sliding purr,
Oh yes indeed!
But no tabby here.
Rolls among Royces –
The Barry White of aerial intent.

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The title for this tiny poem came from a suggestion that I spotted by artist Ian Spicer. As soon as I saw Ian’s title, I could almost feel the unmistakable throb of a low level Spitfire pass.

May 8th is my birthday – as well as that of personal hero and national treasure David Attenborough (Many Happies!) – but more importantly May 8th 2015 is the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, and of the almost unbelievable relief of a horrifically hard won peace: let’s give thanks and remember.

I happened on this video later… a visceral addition to this post! Some language slightly NSFW, but you do have to have the sound up (preferably LOUD)…