To the End of Things: Sound-Poems from Elizabeth Bishop’s House
In September 2019, Martin Heslop and Helen Tookey spent a two-week residency at the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, Nova Scotia, where the poet lived as a child. They wrote: poems and prose pieces, fragments, notes. And they collected field recordings and sounds: waterfalls, rivers, cave-drips; crickets under pylons, in blueberry fields, by the shafts of old mines; the creaking and cracking of a wooden church during a hurricane; the harmonium and all the bells in the Bishop house; the turning mechanism of a lighthouse beam, abandoned radio-sets...recording the present and searching for possible futures, but also looking to summon the buried histories of the place.
Using these sounds, their poems and their voices, entwined with early recordings of Nova Scotian Gaelic songs gathered from the Beaton Archives at Cape Breton University, Helen and Martin are creating a series of audio-visual poems – which will become part of a longer narrative sequence – weaving together the experiences of a woman trying to navigate an unfamiliar, post-societal landscape, and the voice of a man who is of this place, but of a different time. This man is the draegerman of the mines, the rescuer, and he tells of the underground world he remembers, recalls voices of those he rescued and those he could not. They are both deciphering the landscape, coaxing it back into language.Follow Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts on Twitter or Facebook
to listen to this sonic-poetic installation when it is premiered on Thursday 5th November.