‘The Singing Ringing Tree‘ (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen) was a strange East German fairy-tale film shown by the BBC in the 1960s. It is also the title of a sound sculpture in Lancashire on a hill called Crown Point above Burnley.
It’s not just the simple rhyme of the title that sticks in the imagination, especially for those who saw the uncanny film as small children, something about its odd atmosphere seemed to resonate. Apparently in a 2004 Radio Times poll it was voted “20th spookiest show ever”, even though it was a story for children.
This visual poem is about an encounter with a kind of life after death. The title is a small homage to the strangeness of that children’s film.
the singing ringing pole
This post is a bit of an experiment! The idea had a couple of starting points…
I was looking at some Lady’s mantle flowers in bright sunshine. This started off a chain of thought which had a lot to do with the process of branching – how we see it in natural growth, echoed in man-made patterns, and also in mathematics.
Not long after I read about a free piece of software for game developers called Ink. This is a lightweight tool aimed at authors writing stories where the reader gets to make choices. Ink is made by an award winning Cambridge based game development company called inkle. If you’re interested you can find out more about the company and download ink software from their website.
I decided to try to make an interactive poem, where your choices can affect the flow of the poem. To begin with I chose something quite simple, and fairly structured. I wrote three short threads of poetry about my Lady’s mantle ideas, then developed a page using Ink that allows you to choose how the poem branches as you read. So in the end I had a poem about branching … that could actually branch!
I’m not able to embed the resulting poem here on the blog, but I can host it on my website, so I’m going to add a link to show it in a new window, but if you’d like to come back here and like this, and/or leave a comment about it, I’d love to hear from you…
Click to open a new window with the interactive poem ‘Branching’
She sighs off the boulder wall.
Randomise, resequence and replace.
Shoulder, hand, heel. Shelf, stretch. Step, toe, jam.
Old plastic puzzle pieces itchy to fit,
An unpacked jacket tangram Tetris in a gale,
Chalk cat’s game, reset and go again.
Tumbled down red mat recombinations,
A solid grace neatly reabsorbed,
Fingers sounding mumbled alterations.
Incredible all-at-once, do-it-now obvious,
The Tower of Hanoi’s hop skip traverse,
Arms unfankled into two warm sleeves.