The summer’s been an eventful one. We were in Aldeburgh during the festival, though we didn’t go to any of the events. Music was all around us, nevertheless, and my Tascam and I tried to make something of it all. First attempt here.
I’ve made one and you can hear it here. The track still has its lumps and bumps – it’s a first attempt and I’m still learning this new language of EQ and frequencies, gain and handling noise, windjammers, foamies, fluffies, omnis …
Piecing this audio file together has felt a bit like writing a poem. There’s the same listening to what is already there in order to work out what the next movement or appearance should be, the same sense of ‘feeling’ your way forward although you’re not walking or climbing, actually. There’s the same sense of ‘hearing’ what comes next, before you have written or placed it, and the uncanny idea that you’ve made an entity that is starting to talk back to you.
And the collaging technique, guided by sound, that I’ve used in a lot of my more recent poems, is absolutely what I’ve been using in this sound work. It’s been really exciting, discovering these links between the two art forms.
There’s a long poem for sounds and voices, ‘Transit’, in the collection (my first, full one – still very excited about this!) coming out with Penned in the Margins in February. When I wrote it, I included a narrator, binding the fragments of speech together and commenting on some of the sounds that would swirl around the voices if the poem were ever performed. This was because of the poem’s double life, as something on the page and potentially out in the air. But I think what sound art is teaching me is just how much less necessary I am finding that commenting ‘voice’ and how much more I can trust a reader, a listener.
Much to think about. My next step is to work with one of my old poems, chop it up, add it to the mix. I have caught some lovely sounds around E11 where I live, am itching to do something with them. Watch this space.
Here she is on the eve of 1995, at the flat that Richard and I rented near Preston Road. I insisted that night that we all jumped off the sofa ‘out of the old year and into the new’.
Yesterday, she would’ve turned 49.
I’m really excited about these! I’m giving a series of free creative writing and poetry workshops in the Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection. They’re drop-in ‘pop ups’, so won’t appear on the Wellcome’s website, but will be advertised in-house on the day.
All the sessions run from 2 pm to 5 pm, and you can stay for as much or as little as you like – and we’ll definitely take a break half way through the session, to help percolate ideas.
The sessions are on the following dates:
Friday 3rd March
Thursday 9th March
Friday 17th March
Saturday 25th March
Thursday 30th March
Saturday 1st April
In them, I want to think about the idea of discovery with you – how it happens, what different forms it takes, what it means to different people, who gets to do the discovering and who gets ‘discovered’ – and the idea of hiding and being hidden – why it happens, how it happens… as well as making use of the art and objects and books in this lovely space. We’ll be doing plenty of writing exercises and a bit of talking. Maybe see you there?
Do you act like a hot girl or an ugly
girl? Do ugly girls ever get any boyfriends?
Do ugly people have any value? Should you
fuck ugly girls to improve your game? Should you
keep on being with an ugly girl
when there are no alternatives? Should you
hire ugly people? Are you hot, pretty,
average or ugly? Are ugly girls easy?
Are You Ugly, Cute, Hot, Or Head Turning
Sexy? (girls Only!!!) I am an ugly girl –
does that mean I will never get lucky? I
am an ugly woman. What chance do I have? Why are
the babies in medieval art so ugly?
Why are the emojis so ugly? Why are
the British so ugly? Why do engineers
use big old ugly computers? Why do foreigners
tend to marry women that are ugly?
Why do ugly boys get gorgeous girls?
If an ugly girl marries an ugly boy,
will the children too be ugly? If your child
were to be boring, stupid, or ugly, which one
would you prefer? Why didn’t evolution
get rid of ugly people? Why are ugly
paintings so expensive? Why is LA
so ugly? Why is train seat fabric so ugly?
Why is gravel ugly? Why are models
ugly? Why are feet ugly? What is an ugly
stick? What are ugly tomatoes? What is ugly
crying? Is your current PowerPoint template
ugly? How do ugly people find love?
Twenty-two ugly girls with hot bods. Thirty-
five pretty girls who became fat and ugly.
Five key things that ugly girls know that pretty
ones don’t. There is nothing worse than an ugly
girl who thinks she’s hot. An ugly girl
will usually harbour resentment towards
the hotter friend. No one takes pictures with
or of the ugly girl. No one writes books
about ugly women. Most people in
America are pretty damn ugly.
There’s not one ugly girl in Whistler village.
There are a lot of ugly female athletes.
Teenage girls. Some are really ugly.
Being around ugly women is bad
for your health. Fat girls are ugliest of all.
Ugly prostitutes exist. Here’s why
writers are ugly. The mood is ugly. Your baby
is ugly. I’m ugly, I know it and I have proof.
Two poems derived from using a search engine with ‘ugly’ as the key word, both attempting to hold a pentameter line (very variable feet!). Being slightly hasty / lazy / ignorant, I’ve let WordPress put a lot of space into what should be very squashed-together, breathless lines, but the line breaks are where I want them.
Such richness of material, I might write an Ugly Ghazal as well – but there’s only so much misogyny I can digest in one go, so that might have to wait. Happy Halloween.
I couldn’t find a photo of Tara from 2006 – or from 1996, for that matter, so here is one of her and Simon from 1998, out in our back garden. It’s the photo that the Lord of Longitude and I have on our mantelpiece.
I think this might be the last post to commemorate her death. Not that August 11th won’t always be a stone, weighting down the calendar – but maybe remembering her on her birthday might be better …
… I’m struggling, here …
… I want remembering Tara to be more than about her death. I want it to be about her intelligence, her friendship, her kindness, her wit, her sense of fun, about saying, look, I knew this REMARKABLE woman, she had such an effect on me in ways obvious and not and I will never forget her.
So, look, I knew this remarkable woman and was lucky enough to be her friend, and I still miss her, it is cruel beyond belief that she died and I still don’t believe it, these three years later, but there it is, and meanwhile all of us who loved her try to get on with our lives and somehow here she is, still, the things she said, the jokes she made, the way she listened, her laugh, what she cared about, all of the stuff that made her Tara, still here, not forgotten, never forgotten.
Tara Louise Few
22.03.68 – 11.08.13
When you ask me, Where do you come from?
how do I answer? How does anyone?
All of us sound different on my street.
In each of us, so many of these crossings
– and in this city, so many crossings meet.
Say ach y fi. Say bore da. Say croeso.
(from ‘The Unicorn’, The Bridle, 2011, Salt)
25 years ago London said croeso to me. I’ve been a ‘Welsh-sounding Auckland pakeha’ , a ‘Kiwi-sounding East Anglian’, a ‘rural-sounding Cambridge undergraduate’, a ‘posh-sounding Forest of Deaner’. I’ve been ‘Welsh’, I’ve been ‘English’, I’ve been ‘Wenglish’. I’ve been a ‘tomboy’, I’ve been’butch’, I’ve been ‘femme’, I’ve been ‘straight’, I’ve been ‘bi’, I’ve been ‘queer’. However I’ve chosen to identify – however hazily, with whatever imperfect knowledge, (and no matter that these days I find these identity labels for myself less and less helpful and don’t bother with them*) – London has made room for me.
We’re all descended from migrants if you go back far enough. Why wouldn’t we welcome more of our own?
(* but that’s my privilege speaking, of course, that I can evade them.)