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Sounds and Sweet Airs

Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises…

I’m writing this in the back room of our house, overlooking a meeting of gardens. We’re underneath a flight path, and this morning the planes are roaring in, low, carrying the summer visitors and returners to London. In between, a robin’s ticking of alarm reaches me, and the next door cat’s collar bell rattles in response. A couple of doors down, they’re having a loft extension built; the builders are already moving planks around and shouting to each other:

‘Up here. On the right …’
Someone’s phone rings. ‘Half an hour? What is it, traffic?’

I can hear traffic, but I barely register it; a constant shushing, it’s as much part of the background as the thudding of my own pulse in my ears, the whistle of breath over nose hairs…

We’re bathed in sound from the minute we exist to the minute we don’t, yet only some of it gets our attention. On the course I’m teaching for the Poetry School this September, we’ll try to pay attention to all of it. What effect do unpleasant sounds have on us? What about music? And what about silence?

And how do we write about all this?

The builders are having a break now. They’ve just changed the radio station; the clatter of a dance track gives way to the cricket, and as if in response, a wood pigeon is asking, ‘Who? Who?’

What role does sound play in our significant memories? And what about music? Or silence? We’ll be exploring these questions through a series of listening and writing experiments spread over the 5 sessions. We’ll also be reading and discussing contemporary poems that respond to sounds and music.

There’ll be a chance to think about the silences and sounds inside your own poems and how they relate to rhyme in all its variety, and stanza and line break. You should come away with several poems-in-the-making and a plethora of ideas for approaching the subject.

Sounds and Sweet Airs is a fortnightly course beginning Monday 21st September, 6.45 – 8.45pm. The full cost is £90.00, with concessions, discounts and installment plans available. For more information and booking details, visit the course page or contact the Poetry School on 0207 582 1679 / [email protected]

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Image Credits:

‘Robin’,  Andrew