Recent Audio Recordings, Performances, and Collaborative/Collage Poems

I have always loved attending poetry readings. There is something unique about a performance, where the combination of setting, audience, and sound creates a space in which each and every word reverberates beyond the page on which it was written. I am delighted to now have three of my poems published as audio clips in the online poetry magazine iambSo I thought I’d write a blog post to celebrate, and to look back on some other audio poems that I’ve created in the last few years.

Poems from Octopus Mind on iamb

You can listen to (and read) the poems here, on the iamb website. They’re all taken from my debut collection Octopus Mind, and here’s a little bit of background information about two of them:

‘Self-Portrait as Pieces of a Saint’ was inspired by the sixteenth-century Spanish nun, Saint Teresa of Ávila. I watched a documentary about her life, and was shocked to discover the strange irony that, as a mystic, she sought spiritual experiences that took her away from her body; but when she died, parts of her body were exhumed and preserved as holy relics and put on public display. The poem questions this ironic discord between life and death, body and spirit, self and other.

poetry book - Octopus Mind‘Dys’ emerged from my engagement with the term ‘dyspraxia’, and the recognition that this word (like so many of our medical terms) comes with its own baggage: a set of connotations that often unhelpfully emphasise the negative aspects of the neurodivergent experience.

I was attending an Arvon course at Totleigh Barton, where we were invited to use dictionaries as inspiration, to construct a poem from words linked by sound rather than meaning. I had a lot of fun constructing this poem, and reading it out loud! The poem became a playful, visceral way of channeling my anger and frustration.

What links these two poems, and many of the other poems in my collection, is the exploration of perception. I want my work to consider how we perceive ourselves and others, how that perception often differs from person to person, and what happens when our perceptions change in unexpected ways.

Metamorphosis: A Creative / Critical Response to Strangeland by Tracey Emin

This 10-minute-long audio piece is a bit more unusual. It was originally commissioned for Episode 8 of the Looking at Femininity Sympodcast – a literary critical symposium in the form of a podcast, that took place in May 2021.

Book: Strangeland by Tracey Emin, with notebook and penThe piece combines a critical response to Tracey Emin’s autobiographical book Strangeland (which I have also reviewed on this blog) with extracts from a poetic response to the book. It’s a kind of ekphrasis in audio form, responding to Emin’s book and her work as an artist. Listen to it here.

Rome: A Collaborative Performance Poem

I’ve also been experimenting recently with collaborative and collage poems. I was lucky enough to participate in a South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership trip to Rome in 2023, along with several other PhD students. We worked together to create an interactive exhibition at the British School in Rome, based on our collective and personal encounters with the city.

A photo taken from the exhibition at the British School in RomeAs part of that exhibition, I produced this collaborative collage poem, in the form of a performance piece. It includes direct quotations from some of the discussions that took place during that week, and literary quotations taken from texts that people talked about, as being of particular relevance to their impressions of Rome. Listen to the 4-minute-long audio recording here.

What is Art? A Collaborative/Collage Poem as part of the Explore Collective

That experience in Rome encouraged me to use the same collaborative/collage poem format as part of my work with Explore Collective. The project took place over a period of two years, with multiple exhibitions of artwork produced by participants in Ely (Cardiff) and Rhondda Cynon Taff (in the South Wales Valleys) culminating in a final exhibition at the Wales Millennium Centre earlier this year.

I encouraged participants and fellow artists to reflect on their creative process and their experience of being involved in the project, recording our conversations and transforming them into a poem that was performed as part of the exhibition opening. The result was a reflective collaborative work that pulls together a huge range of experiences, depicting and engaging with specific works of art and with the process of producing them as part of a community of artists.

explore collective exhibition wales millennium centreThis 6-minute-long poem is now available to listen to on the Explore Collective website, along with photos from the project, and further information. There is a Welsh translation of the poem too, translated by Marc and Janet Evans.

So there you have it – a whole range of audio recordings collected together in one blog post. I look forward to experimenting further with sound in my work…

Subscribe to Blog via Email

If you enjoyed reading this post, why not subscribe to my blog and get regular features and book reviews sent to your inbox?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *