These creative residencies are the first time I have returned to the use of sound as part of my writing practice for many years. I’ve always loved music and as a poet the resonance of the spoken voice is one of the resources I am mindful of and utilise all the time.
The notion that the earth and the environment have voices too is something that’s always intrigued me. How do we listen to and/or capture the earth’s voice? One way is through exploring the sounds of the environment and all the living things in it. So I’ve been experimenting with the on-board mics of a Tascam DR100. The Tascam is the first proper piece of recording equipment I’ve used and it’s proving to be a challenge but also really interesting. I am used to carrying a camera around worth me and use photographic images regularly as part of my creative journaling and logging. I do make sound notes (i.e. I hear something interesting and try to describe it in my journal) but they come nowhere near the original thing I heard. Using the Tascam the way I use a camera is something I am training myself to do.
However, capturing sounds is more complex than my point-and-shoot camera. Actually the Tascam is pretty easy to use, it’s my ears and audio skills that are the issue. I need to hone my listening skills and identify the sounds that catch my attention. I’ve been walking and sitting with my eyes closed and we plan to work at night, when it’s dark, in an attempt to sharpen our ears.
The delicate song of a bird perching on a small branch, the curling waves at low water, the fizz and crackle of the surf as it rushes up towards me, the creaking of the gates on the walk behind the dunes, the wind in the marram, rain on the sand are all sounds I am trying to record in good quality format, for use a bit further down the line.
Rachel Carson, I believe, gave the earth a voice and it is her writings, together with the natural beauty of Beadnell and the Northumberland coastline, that have inspired us to create and start this project: like Carson I to believe that there is poetry in the natural world and that as humans we are more than able to hear: all we have to do is tune in.