A Quick Mention

I want to treat this installment as a news flash. Mark Goodwin has an upcoming event and Dave Migman has two new releases of music and poetry.

First, I’ll pass on the basics of the exhibit Mark Goodwin is putting together in Leicester, quoting from an email announcement he sent me: “Poems, places & soundscapes  An international exhibition of digitally produced sound-&-poetry focusing on place, and soundscape. Poet Mark Goodwin and Brian Lewis (of Longbarrow Press) bring together and present a range of vivid, immersive sound-enhanced poetry made through various poet, musician and sound-designer collaborations, as well as by individual poet-sound-artists. The exhibition also includes a small selection of ‘place-entranced’ film-poems. This exhibition is part of Mark Goodwin’s Sound-Enhanced Poetry project, which was awarded an Arts Council of England Grant for the arts in 2013.  An open and informal panel discussion about sound-enhanced poetry and film-poem will launch the exhibition on April 10th 2014, 6.30 pm, The Cube Gallery, The Phoenix, Leicester.”

I hope you get to see and hear it in person.

I’m also hoping there will be more to post about the event and exhibition.

Something a little easier for most of us to experience are two more collections of recordings by Dave Migman, both released on March 5, 2014. We have a collection of his solo works, In the Kingdom of the Blind, released on Spleen’s label Splitting Sounds Records, which includes possibly my favorite recording of his, The Drift.

The other collection is another collaboration with Spleen, Where All Tracks Lead. As much as I liked their last album, Sheol, I think I find this one even more satisfying, perhaps because the music is more rhythmic (the old rocker in me is hard to put down).

In the future I’d like to do an article about Radio Wildfire, from the UK, who feature recordings of poetry and sound (I noticed both Dave Migman and Mark Goodwin on a current playlist), as well as hosting and presenting live events. I’m trying to get ahold of them. (A brief aside: the background on their site kills my eyes and leaves me with a fuchsia afterimage that prevents me from seeing much of anything for about 30 seconds. I hope your eyes are more adaptable than mine. It looks like an great site.)

I intend to get more information about recorded poetry from Longbarrow Press (notice that they have a tab for recordings), who publish Mark Goodwin and are involved in the exhibition. My ambition is to fill the world with multimedia publications, so if I ask enough people and write about it I will eventually get my wish? I think with or without me it’s happening.

I have also been digging into what Bandcamp allows you to upload into a release package. This includes PDF and video. So there’s no reason a poet and noisemaker couldn’t include a standard PDF with text and images as well as an interactive PDF with the recordings included, as well as video. Time and technology and skills permitting, of course. I’ve been thinking of releasing something of my own just to test the possibilities but more so I encourage others to try. I would like to hear and see what you can do.


Connecting the Fragments

I have two books on William Blake by Ruthven Todd, one is about Blake the artist and one is about Blake the poet. Reading these books you’d think that there’d been two guys named William Blake who lived at the same time and same place but had never crossed paths. Blake was not a divided man, at least not in any creative sense: his poems and drawings were all serving the same purpose. To me, this is one of the symptoms of insanity in our culture, the need to fragment and specialize (where the means become the end).

For over 30 years I’ve wanted to produce books that combine all the media in which I work. Back then it was just a matter of words and images. It seemed to become even more of a pipe dream once I started recording. Always, it was beyond my means, where I would need the commitment and money of others—that is, a publisher.

Just as we can all now be record producers in our own homes (and within the grandeur of our own minds), it is also easy to become your own publisher. And electronic publishing makes this a full-color operation immediately viewable online and downloadable. Even more wonderful, you can add audio and video. Sculptors, installation and performance artists, landscape artists and others creating immediate experiences and environments will still be limited to very meager recorded representations of their work. But for we flatlanders, we isolated recluses of the creative world, we who too often stick to the archaic media and craft of, say, painting and poetry, there is hope.

Years ago I worked as a silkscreen printer, where I was introduced to early incarnations of digital publishing via Photoshop and QuarkXPress. Since about 2003 or 2004 I’ve been using Adobe’s Creative Suite, which means I switched from QuarkXPress to InDesign. This really hasn’t amounted to anything except a few individually distributed book/CD compilations for friends (or victims, as they might seem) and a lot of debt. I was always tempted by the possibilities of the software but without a public presence and connections it was just a very strange form of self-pleasuring.

After the release of the iPad in 2010, and the subsequent burst of activity in the tablet market, the world has begun to blossom for electronic publication and Adobe has really been pushing the electronic connections for InDesign.

I now subscribe to Adobe CS6 Creative Cloud and am in the process of reading ePublishing with InDesign CS6 by Pariah Burke. The layers of debris and rot are being peeled away from my imagination and my youthful passion to produce books in which I can include all the media I work in is again becoming visible and showing signs of life.

First, I’ll recreate some of my old chapbooks and CD booklets, to master the software and publication process (and I’ll probably need some sort of website to make them available). Just think, in each book, instead of burning CDs, I can place the audio tracks within the text and graphics with a link to play the recording. This will be downloadable, interactive, and viable in almost all devices in use (probably the interactive PDF format). It shouldn’t be too big of a deal to create alternate formats from the original InDesign file.

As I continue to explore the software and process I’ll keep you informed of the results. I’d really like to convince others that this is doable (not so cheap, InDesign alone is about $650 and takes some time to learn how to use…or the subscription, with access to almost every program Adobe has, is $50 a month). As much as I love the printed page, having those sheets of paper in my hand or stacked around my bed like talismans of safety and tranquility and vivid dreams, I will embrace the very rich future of electronic publishing. At least creatively, my day is coming. I hope we all have our day, both as producers and consumers.

As a farewell, I’m going to leave you with a recording and one of my drawings, to give you a sense of how they’re each an expression of the same imagination and why they should be combined in a single publication…


LXXI-71 8”× 6” Graphite, india ink, gesso, chalk, and acrylic on cream Rieves BFK. Circa 1988.
In 1983 I began a project called Laughing Water combining poetry and erotic drawings, most of which are sexually explicit. I’m hoping this one is tame enough for the world of blogs and our supposedly free speech internet.


Mark Goodwin

When I first began posting my work at soundcloud.com—I think this was in April, 2011—I quickly learned that the way to find people who interested me and who might want to hear what I was doing was to join groups. When I began to search for poetry groups Mark Goodwin’s Air to Hear was the richest and most promising.

This is where I first encountered Mark’s recorded poetry. My initial impression, aside from liking his writing, was that his readings were a little stilted and over-enunciated and that the sounds (we have to hear them more as audio construct than as music in the conventional sense) were not entirely connected to the reading but just floating in the background.

Partly this had to do with it being my first encounter with other artists doing the type of work that I’d been doing but with an entirely different aesthetic and intellectual agenda. We aren’t doing Poetronica or Hip Hop, there is no unifying style, no fashion, no conformity. We’re almost all working on our own in the isolation of our own homes, almost working in a void, each of us developing our own approach to the medium. We’ve drifted as a natural extension of recording readings of our poetry or we’ve heard the idea of mixing poetry and sound or music but have heard few examples, so what each of us comes up with tends to be idiosyncratic.

Partly it had to do with an American tradition of poetry reading versus a UK tradition. I’ve heard other UK writers since then with a similarly exaggerated enunciation, a precision of locution I cannot imagine coming from an American mouth. I have no way of connecting this to a social situation, no way of understanding how the style of reading developed.…Too much of what I’ve heard in the United States tends to veer toward a lecturn/pulpit pomposity, toward a soapbox self-righteousness, or toward an overly sincere, heartstrings kind of prepared group confessional simultaneously whining and manipulative…or like someone is just reading it off the page with an almost total lack of expression.

To a lesser extent, I think this also had to do with Mark testing the possibilities of the medium and feeling a little self-conscious with the whole operation. I think if you’re singing a pop song you listen to whether or not you’re doing it well but you don’t question the process itself. When you’re close to creating a new medium (we aren’t, but it’s uncommon enough that it sometimes feels that we are) you just have to stand back from your work and just wonder what the hell you’re doing.

Over the past two years I’ve heard well over seventy-five of his recordings—I’ve listened to most of them several times, both to get more out of them and just for the simple pleasure of hearing them. I think the change has been subtle but I’ve been hearing a level of comfort in his more recent posts, which I assume are more recent recordings (though I could be wrong). And, to my ear, it seems the sounds are more a part of the composition and less mere background. I think Mark has always had it in mind to make a complete composition but now it seems that there’s a better glue being used. On the piece he just posted this week the words and sounds are almost inseparable. Not that the words are an inferior work without the sounds, but they would now be an entirely different work.

The record I’ve been waiting for

In 1978 I heard the record that made me hungry: An American Prayer, the posthumous release of some of Jim Morrison’s poems with sound collage and musical backing by the surviving members of the Doors. Some people hate it. Some love it. To me it doesn’t matter if it was good or bad: the important fact is that it changed my expectations of what can and should be done with poetry.

Since then it’s been pretty bleak. You ever see those nature films with the animals wandering the Serengeti with nothing to eat or drink, yet they must keep moving or they’ll die: that’s how I feel about recordings of poetry and music. There have been sporadic recordings throughout the years by artists who don’t feel the need do whole albums or multiple albums of poetry (for instance, Hawkwind and Laurie Anderson might come to mind).

And of course there’s Brian Eno and Rick Holland’s collaboration Drums Between the Bells.

While checking out what was going on in the world of Istvan Peter B’Racz, probably looking for something of his to listen to, I noticed he was following someone called Farewell Poetry. Of course I had to find who or what they are.

Of course I had to buy the CD/DVD once I heard “As True as Troilus”.

Listen while you read on:

September, 2011 Gizeh Records released Hoping for the Invisible to Ignite by Farewell Poetry. This is the record that has given me hope. (I think Drums Between the Bells will make more waves and influence more people, both artists and consumers, leading to more recordings of music and poetry combined—which gives me hope that there’s a future for the genre.) This is the record I’ve been waiting for almost 35 years, and because of this I have hope that beautiful records of a sort I long to hear will still be made.

I’m won over by Jayne Amara Ross’ poetry and voice (Ross is also a filmmaker and the second disc is video). I’m won over by painfully beautiful music, a mixture of sweetness and noise building to multiple crescendos and final collapse.…I feel totally inadequate to describe anything about these recordings: just listen to them. That’s all I want you to do: listen to these recordings. I can’t get my fill.


Lapkat disagrees with me…that there isn’t much recorded poetry with music out there. She should know, she’s been pursuing the subject for about 20 years and shows a commitment to it that I find humbling.

The disagreement is based on a difference of interpretation of “poetry”, or on the need to restrict the verbal content to poetry in the traditional sense, and on our differing perceptions of availability. As a fan of music, literature, art in all its forms, I’m in agreement with her: there is so much creativity out there, in so many shapes and forms, so much worthy of our time and attention, that you just have to keep your eyes and ears and mind open. And she’s right, it really is out there.

Sometimes I fixate on something and don’t want to move on. Sometimes I insist on being a pinhead. In this one little area, in this one part of my life, I am very small minded and old fashioned. Instead of clinging to an imaginary America-past or to some outdated moral code or carhops on roller skates, my conservative streak clings to wanting to hear a living equivalent of Milton or Baudelaire or Plath or Eliot or Rilke or Roetke set to a beat or a field recording or a piano sonata or cascades of electronic noise. I want to hear poets working with musicians. I want to hear poets stretching their possibilities as creators to make noises of their own, into broadening their exploration of sound. This goes back to my experiences with Jim Morrison and the Doors’ An American Prayer. I want something that’s obviously poetry, verbalized, heard, taken off the page and brought into time, into the movement of time, and combined with any and all possible sounds. (Why am I so open to sound but not to word?)

The other issue is availability. She’s absolutely right: it is out there. But where? How hard do you have to dig? Why can’t you just log on to Amazon.com or stop in at your neighborhood record store (is there still such a thing?) to search for this art? (We still don’t have a name for it.) The people making this art are too isolated, too far underground, ignored by the press and record labels, that we’re often under the illusion that we’re the only ones making this kind of art.

I’ve stated my arguments, now I want to leave the rest to Lisa (to the cyber world she’s Lapkat but in the world of the flesh she’s Lisa Greenaway of Melbourne, Australia). I’m going to add one of her wonderful sets from soundcloud.com, quote extensively from an email, and again direct you to her excellent blog. If you’re on a narrow pursuit like I am you might find her blog a little difficult and distracting. If you’re looking for leads on great music and spoken word it’s still distracting but in a completely rewarding way. When I’m that rare person of leisure I love browsing her postings.

While you’re listening to this wonderful set, these are some words from an email exchange we had in June, 2012:

It’s a great journey you’re going on, there is a huge global scene out there, of poets and storytellers working with music, I’ve been doing it myself alongside many many artists in Australia, for around 20 years.
Do you know Going Down Swinging? http://goingdownswinging.org.au (I edited it for 5 yrs – international literary and spoken word journal – publishes cds of spoken word with every issue). Rattapallax in the USA – have you heard the United States of Poetry CD (early 90s)? Route publishing in the UK … Cordite publishes audio works online regularly …
Spoken word is the general term covering all this work, coined in the early 90s to distinguish storytellers working with/without music from ‘performance poetry’ and the Beats (though naturally the beats worked with music – following on from Ken Nordine (you know his ‘Colours’ album?), spoken word took it in different directions away from jazz into other musical forms and away from only being ‘poetry’ to cover storytelling). From Laurie Anderson… through to these days folks like Ian Ferrier (Canada), Mark Gwynne Jones (UK), Derrick Brown (USA – Write Bloody Publishing) Shane Koyczan (Canada .. he performed live at the Commonwealth games opening ceremony) … so many amazing artists producing work with music.
Slam poetry scene in the USA has kicked the form into a whole new gear – it crosses over with hip hop of course
In Australia, Sean M Whelan (works with Isnod, also had a poetry music band for years), Ghostboy, many more (get yourself some Going Down Swingings! No.25 we did a double CD edition of works from around the world, No.30 a couple of years ago has 2 CDs as well – lots and lots of poetry/music fusions on there again from around the globe)

…it seems to ignore this enormous and longstanding form of art … I just don’t think it’s correct to say it’s not out there. It really is. It might still be ‘underground’ but not far underground these days.
Anyway as I say it’s a great journey and there is a wealth of material out there so I know you’re in for some amazing discoveries!
Myself I’m working with poetry in many different languages right now, in my DJ project so I’m also discovering many poets around the world doing this from many cultures and languages – the blog at lapkat.com chronicles my own journeys and discoveries.

I consider her blog essential to the adventure I’m on. I hope both you and I can make more time to read her postings and follow her links.


How Statements by Eno, Mark Goodwin, and David McCooey Led to the Creation of This Blog

My interest in the fusion of poetry and music has often seemed dormant: all the years waiting for something to come along, waiting for some of the big names to embrace the opportunity of creating something relatively new and unfamiliar; all the years I spun my wheels trying to figure out how to make this kind of art myself; years thinking no one else was interested in such an art, or thinking of it as a secret cabal in New York or London or Berlin (places where they might take poetry seriously, but not so seriously it couldn’t be polluted by pop music). Even after finding a few of my kind on soundcloud.com it didn’t feel like enough. But I drifted along without working very hard to find more.

When the Sept/Nov 2011 issue of TapeOp (No. 85) arrived in my mailbox I noticed that they had an interview with Brian Eno. That could be interesting. It was. It was very enjoyable and informative and interesting until I read a sidebar on page 44, two questions regarding a recent collaboration between Eno and poet Rick Holland, Drums Between the Bells. Words to me that were devastating, since they suggested I was right that there isn’t much out there: “The whole process was a little like alchemy for both of us since we were working in a form that doesn’t really have much of a history.”

Of course I ordered the CD.

I also wrote to TapeOp (probably the first of the two actions). My hope was that it would be published and that I’d be led to a hidden treasure of music and poetry. (I really want to thank editor Larry Crane for publishing that one (it appears I have a reputation for writing often). It led to some interesting and rewarding responses, mainly of people introducing me to their own work.)

First, I’ll quote myself, repeating in full the letter I sent: “The interview with Brian Eno was the most enjoyable I’ve read in TapeOp, and I’ve read almost all of them. I want to thank you for the discussion of Drums Between the Bells, his collaboration with poet Rick Holland. As Eno said, “We were working in a form that doesn’t really have much of a history.” I hope it’s a form that has a future. Ever since I received Jim Morrison’s poetry set to music, An American Prayer, for Christmas in 1978 I’ve wanted to hear more of poetry and music combined. I’ve come across so little. Is there a gold mine out there I’m missing? Are people making something of poetry and music and I just don’t know where to look? Maybe once again the ripple effect from Eno’s splash will wash something up in a decade or two.”

Before I go any further with the responses I got to this letter to TapeOp, I’d like to add a couple tracks from Eno and Holland.

First of all, a guy named Steve sent me some information about Jack Kerouac reading with a jazz band on the Steve Allen Show, as well as an attachment of one of the performances. Interesting. I still need to follow where else this could lead, what’s in print and available.

Then I received an email from Brad Fiedler with a link to Shive Records and his collection of recordings called Typer Tapes #1. This is definitely worth your time. It reminded me of early Tom Waits and the Marlow stories of Raymond Chandler, with kind of a gritty street feel and a weird jazziness, but most of all reminded me of the Beat poets.

The third was someone named Bobby with a slightly confusing pointer to Listener. I liked what I heard but haven’t been back for more.

The fourth contact, a guy named Evan, recommended an EP by Sigur Rós, Rimur. Maybe some day it will be easily and affordably available.

Another gem was a message followed by a CD-R from Christopher Libertino. He’s known for his Alien Guitars loop discs and many soundtracks. You’ll also find some wonderful songs at his website. What grabbed me were the six recordings on the CD he sent, called Schism (three of which are posted on SoundCloud) of his poetry and sound design (and artwork). Here are two of them:

Yet another wonderful lead came from Wren Curtis regarding the work he and his brother have been doing with poet Lynn Martin. From a recent email: “We absolutely never rehearse – Lynn gives my brother the set list and a very brief overview as to the mood of the poem(s) about a week before a gig, my brother gives me a setlist 5 mintutes before we play with nothing but the title of the poem and a key, and off we go.” This is very different from how many of us work, alone in our private studios/bedrooms/garages, laying down one track at a time. I often forget about the performance side of things.

On the heels of that email was a message from saxophonist Hal McMillen, alias ThinMan-Studios, with a link to a track he and a friend had done, called Next Life. He came the closest to introducing me to the gold mine I was seeking, a place I’d already been: soundcloud.com.

The final message message was from Steven, who writes Christian-themed songs in a folk/alternative style. I agreed with him that poetry has long been associated with music in the form of song lyrics and that it’s possible poems were originally sung not spoken but that I’m still interested in spoken poetry. (I also think I offended him when I pointed out that I am an atheist and much of my writing is hostile to religion.)

That last message arrived the same day my younger daughter was hit by a car (many scrapes and bruises, a chipped thumb bone, and several broken metatarsals, the outermost being shattered and requiring a long convalescence—but, considering the possibilities, relatively minor injuries). That is, I stopped paying attention to poetry and music for several months.

My interest resumed in April when Mark Goodwin sent me a link to an essay by David McCooey, Fear of music: Sounded poetry and the “poetry soundtrack”. David had also come to the conclusion that what we are doing is hard to find and poorly documented, though he has also shown that we are not at an absolute beginning, that others have been here before. An interview of Mark Goodwin on the subject of Digitally Produced Audio Poetry also confirmed this (“I now have a problem – where do I send this stuff? (Any ideas will be gratefully received!) I’ve surfed the internet standing on my sore ears and as yet I’ve found very little out there that is quite like the stuff I’m producing”, to quote Mark).

Those two pieces, McCooey’s essay and Goodwin’s interview, left me in a very unsettled state. It made me start thinking that I need to do like Larry Crane when he founded TapeOp, not finding the information he was looking for (and certainly another way in which TapeOp led to the creation of this blog). Once I decided there needs to be some sort of publication on the subject and no one was offering to take it on, after a week’s poor sleeping, after researching the details of creating a blog (wordpress versus blogger or blogspot), after concluding that it doesn’t matter if I don’t have time for it…here it is.

We make the art as best we can, when we can (since it doesn’t pay), adding to the repertoire; airing it as we can, getting small attention via podcasts and community radio but primarily by posting on soundcloud.com. At soundcloud.com poetry groups have been formed. Mark is constantly browsing and recruiting for Air to Hear. We try to connect with friends and strangers.

And we create blogs.


This post responds to Michael Myshack’s post ‘What is this Called?’

Firstly, yes, I agree with Michael’s calling my label ‘digitally produced audio poetry’ long-winded. That label is a kind of ‘anti-poetic’, technical-information-conveyor, and made purposefully so, because at the moment so many poets haven’t even heard any of this kind of stuff, and so I wanted a description that would describe to those wholly uninitiated what it is I’m trying to interest them in. It would be splendid if at some point in the future this (perhaps ugly) technical-information-download-of-a-label mouthful could become transmogrified: re-breathed out through a few smooth gasps into something poetically compressed and beautiful. But before that can happen it might be best to continue carrying the label purely as a functional tool.

But, I am ready to start suggesting some poetic names, perhaps names that could replace the ‘toolish’ label in the future. Before I do my own suggesting, though, I’ll mention others first.

I’m struck by two of Mythryn’s suggestions: ‘Auracular Poetry’ and ‘Audiocanvassed Poem’ (in comments below ‘What is this called?’) . I’ve looked up ‘auracular’ and have got to the word ‘auricular’; I think Mythryn’s spelling is unique, and that might be intended, and if not, then it might be a useful accident. But, ‘auricular’ means simply that something is audible, and so in the technical sense only describes spoken poetry. ‘Audiocanvassed’ is really good, conjures painting with sounds. The word ‘audio’, although in its first meaning again refers simply to what can be heard, by now it is almost always related to electronic/digital recording, and so I think works for us. But, you do have to be so careful with all the baggage that comes with naming and labels and how others can pick up baggage you didn’t even know you were carrying and then run away from you with it, for better or worse! So, the word ‘canvassed’: ‘The action or process of personally soliciting votes before an election.’ (Oxford Shorter). It’s a shame, cuz I really like the painterly image, but unfortunately the politically charged baggage is something I would not want the name of an art to carry.

(And talking of baggage, I’m afraid the acronym for ‘digitally produced audio poetry’ DPAP has in its last syllable unfortunate connotations of the dumbed-down, or depending on your bent, the more nourishing suggestion of ‘teat’ or ‘breast’!)

David MacCooey refers to his distinctive and excellent work as ‘poetry soundtracks’. (Although it is interesting and surprising to me that on SoundCloud he labels his poetry soundtracks as ‘Electronic’. ) I think the label ‘poetry soundtrack’ very much fits David’s work, and in good ways, connecting to cinematic aesthetics, as alluded to by Michael Myshack in his ‘What is this called?’ post. In correspondence with David (via SoundCloud) he wrote to me: ‘I guess my term, ‘poetry soundtracks’ (which took me some time to arrive at), is a subset of digitally produced audio poetry.’ And I agree with him on that, but as I will mention shortly, I think DPAP itself might actually be a subset!

David Stevens  sometimes collaborates with poet Heather A Taylor to produce astounding work. He calls this collaboration ‘Electrocoustic poesetics’. The ‘electrocoustic’ portion gets across ‘digitally produced’ and in a more elegant manner than my label; and the ‘poesetics’ portion obviously gets across ‘poetry’, but in an interesting, surprising and not wholly clear way. Which is perfect for poetics, although not so good for conveying direct technical info to the uninitiated. I’m pretty sure David has invented ‘poesetics’, and I find the word intriguing. The ‘poes’ part of the word, largely because of the letter ‘s’ conjures for me the word ‘poiesis’ (from the Greek for ‘creation’/’to make’; the route meaning of poetry). The ‘etic’ part connects with ‘aesthetic’, and ‘synthetic’. And get this: if one splits out from the word ‘POEseTIC’ the word ‘poetic’, we come to the word ‘se’. Now, I really don’t know if David intended this, but I do like the fact the Oxford Shorter defines the noun ‘se’ thus: ‘A Chinese twenty-five-stringed plucked musical instrument, being a form of zither.’ So, there’s a lot of poetic flux going on here that I find pleasurable, and poetically useful. But again, it’s not direct enough to transmit information to the uninitiated, and also, although not as technically ugly as my label, it is still rather a mouthful and not easily gasped-out smoothly.

Michael Myshack’s (Swampmessiah’s) title for this blog-website is rather brilliant and beautiful, in its simplicity. This could work as an excellent label. ‘Poetry and other sounds’ is essentially what we are talking about. Poetry is of course a sound once it is spoken, and vocalised poetry has to take its place in the world of sounds, alongside all the world’s other sounds, and I think that is what our new(ish) artform is very much about. It is not a great title for conveying to the uninitiated (but as I’ve said, we are now thinking about the future when the function-label can be dropped). Besides, I’m sure a sensitive and interested uninitiated person would probably get much of the artform from Michael’s phrase; it would simply require a little thought, and inquisitiveness about what ‘other sounds’ might be.

Michael’s phrase led me on to thinking of this: ‘sound-enhanced poetry’. It does not have quite the same poetic grace as ‘poetry and other sounds’, but it does compress phrase into label. And it is quite clear about what it is, although it does not emphasise the digital. But I think that can only be a good thing, as ‘sound-enhanced poetry’ can actually range from simply spoken poetry (simply because once poetry is not being read silent in the mind, once it is lifted off the page and spoken into air to hear, it is being enhanced by sound, or being enhanced by its truest ‘self’) through to a live recording of a poet next to a waterfall accompanied by intermittent blackbird and electric-guitar three hundred yards away, through to the utterly digitally produced: that spoken into a computer and electrified through various digital devices and filters.

So, at this point I think ‘sound-enhanced poetry’ might do the job. (And I now rather think that ‘digitally produced audio poetry’ is actually a sub-genre of ‘sound-enhanced poetry’.) ‘Sound-enhanced poetry’ doesn’t ‘sound’ too cumbersome either, and it’s half way between poetic name and functional label. But …

… I’m still after something which can be more simply breathed out in one go, with no gaps (gasps) between words. And so I suppose I’m after a single word. A word as easily said as ‘poetry’. Yes, how splendid it would be, for there to be a time when there was a single word for this artform that many people would instantly recognise. Poets are such dreamers! But we can also be quite practical when it comes to constructing with words. So, here goes. I’ve got on my poetry-overalls and I’m about to open up that glorious tool-box so full of well-oiled & glistening syllables:

The main words: Poetry. Sound. Sonance. Poiesis. Sonus.

Very nice bunch of sounds! Lets play at placing them and bits of them side by side:


All of the above have some appeal, and all of them work in their own ways (some better than others).

I’m going with ‘poesonus’, although ‘poesonance’ is following close. What I like about ‘poesonance’ is how closely it associates with the word ‘assonance’ (‘Resemblance or correspondence of sound between two syllables.’ –Shorter Oxford). Poetry is full of assonance and correspondences, and we are talking about the sound of poetry coming into relationship with the world of other sounds, of poetry and other sounds corresponding, so yes, I like what the word conjures. But, it is not nearly so easily breathed out as ‘poesonus’. For me, the ‘n’ close to the end of ‘poesonance’ snags a little bit too much. Not that consonantal snagging is bad, in fact the rub and grit of such snagging is what makes much of poetry, but for this word I want the noise to be much more breathy, much more of vowels and sibilance, to fit more the ‘air’ it describes. So, ‘poesonus’ flows smooth. I also like its purity. It takes the first bit of ‘poetry’ and connects it directly with the Latin word for sound, ‘sonus’. It’s pure in that it simply meshes ‘poetry’ and ‘sound’ into one. There is also an attractive faint chime with the gorgeous word ‘song’.

If poetry gives us poems, then perhaps ‘poesonus’ gives us ‘poesons’. We have ‘poetic’; is there something other than this, is there ‘poesonetic’?

I think I might start labelling some of my tracks thus: POESONUS (sound-enhanced poetry). Sometimes I might put inside the brackets ‘poetry & other sounds’. Perhaps one day the phrase in brackets will go. Perhaps one day the label will go, and there will be a name there instead. Perhaps us ‘poet-sound-makers’ will one day know our ‘calling’.

Some of my tracks to come will still clang out ‘digitally produced audio poetry’, well perhaps … but I suspect I might use POESONUS more and more … or perhaps better words will emerge … ? We shall see, or should I say: HEAR?