Us in the round of questions
from Atomar, e7:
Us in the round of questions
from Atomar, e7:
Strays we remain
from Atomar, e7:
Farewell Fuzzy 💜
Three years have passed since Lene Henningsen and I launched poetiskpodcast.dk. The idea of doing a podcast grew out of the frustrations around attempting to put together and finance theatrical performances of Lene’s Oscar & Alma, for which I was creating the music. We hit upon the idea of releasing it as a podcast with the realisation that the medium was far better suited to what we were trying to do than grappling with the constraints and expectations of a physical theatre production, exciting as they may be.
Given the difficulties of finding a place for ‘poetic theatre’ within todays commercial and cultural landscape, the medium of sound provided an alternative and led to the establishment of poetiskpodcast.dk as a platform not only for Oskar & Alma but also for podcasts by others interested in exploring new combinations of sound, words, poetry, and music.
Since then 14 productions have been released, ranging from intense drama and rowdy collectives to delicate poetry and dystopian landscapes.
Over the coming days I’ll be making a little retrospective of those productions.
Catch them all on the Poetisk Podcast website: poetiskpodcast.dk/produktioner
Poetisk Podcast #1: Oskar and Alma
The short and yet lifelong love affair between Alma Mahler (widow of the composer Gustav Mahler) and the painter Oskar Kokoschka provides the point of departure for Lene Henningsen’s lengthy and dense poetic text. A poem covering an hour and a quarter, in sound…
Lene, in her ‘Author’s Notes’ for the play:
Why Oskar and Alma?
The fascination of these two people, and the fierce tension and deep love that characterized their relatively short relationship in the years leading up to the First World War – demanded to be brought to life in words, in poetry, in drama.
Individually, they seemed so alive, so full of contradictions, gifted, energetic, and at the same time mysterious enough to elude analysis and explanation. This made work on the text, and the research that lay ahead, difficult, exciting, often nerve-wracking. Would it succeed in capturing an essence of who they were and what they meant to each other? Could a poetic-dramatic use of language do justice to it?
Read more in the PDF that can be downloaded from the Poetisk Podcast website:
And more on the process behind creating it here: rudigermeyer.com/words/oskar-alma
Poetisk Podcast #2: Altså netop nu
with Lars-Emil Woetmann
Altså netop nu, a ‘poetic podcast’ (in Danish) created together with the poet, author, and publisher Lars-Emil Woetmann – a little hybrid tot: part conversation, part poetry reading, part modulation and tonal interpretation; “arranged for the disturbance of your ear on an otherwise peaceful day”.
The eight eight-minute episodes (plus a little epilogue) were based around Lars-Emil’s poems, and appeared each Friday during the months of May and June, 2020. A conversation between the two of us, recorded a week before the first Danish Covid lockdown, provided a stream against which the poems could surface, with questions concerning the role of the state, the aesthetics of poetry, and the upending of the private sphere.
I wrote a little about the process of creating the series here: rudigermeyer.com/words/altsaa-netop-nu
Poetisk Podcast #3: Moonpain Revisited
In 2008 Klaus Ib Jørgensen released his extensive Moonpain project, a ‘web-universe’ created around his Moon-pain cycle for voice and ensemble, based on Fernando Pessoa’s poetry.
Peter Poulsen contributed an extensive essay covering Pessoa’s life, heteronyms, and works, and Lene Henningsen, Morten Søndergaard, and Peter Poulsen each wrote a set of new poems, extended with sound and music, around the Moon-pain theme.
Lisbon field recordings were assembled into a cycle covering the course of a day with Peter Poulsen recounting stories about Pessoa and his relation to various locations as we wandered through the center of the city.
The ‘web-universe’ that collected all of the above was programmed in Flash, as was current at the time, and indeed the only means of achieving the interactivity the was at the core of the project’s ambition.
With Flash nearing its ‘End Of Life’ in 2020, and with that the looming closure of the moonpain.nu site, concerns about how all the wonderful material that had been collected there might be made accessible for the years to come, led to it being recast in podcast form and presented on poetiskpodcast.dk.
Read more on the process here: rudigermeyer.com/words/moonpain-revisited
Poetisk Podcast #4: META
META is a play by Kenneth Krabat, written after a bout of wrestling with cancer, realised as a piece of sound-theatre in the form of a podcast.
In Kenneth’s play, Cancer is (in his own eyes) the one who is bullied and persecuted, while Meta has difficulty talking herself out of playing second fiddle…
Here, a few excerpts from Lene Henningsen’s notes, made during the process of recording the dialogue:
META is a very contemporary text, and yet my thoughts are taken back to both postmodernism and Beckett, e.g. The characters are LARGE, they talk about almost everything. Not least Cancer has big names hanging from his belt: Shiva, God, Devil, World President. (At the same time it can be the bullied child in the school yard). Meta 1 is very much a “modern” figure: critical, sometimes ironic, skeptical. A writer type? Meta 2 inserts a ‘Theater of Death’ into the middle of it all, like a kind of diva of death, and the stage is, paradoxically, full of life.
Let’s pretend that META is also a Faust story. Let’s see Meta 1 as an inquisitive Faust figure who wants to understand, beyond the immediate truths, beyond the mysteries, and ultimately find the truth (as Faust finds love in Goethe). Meta, the author, stands for life, or the systems of life (hence modern). Relates to alienation, avatars, “the fiction of presence”, etc.
Cancer is, Mephisto. A Mephisto with dreadlocks, white face and black suit perhaps, and with sugar coating that he has to brush off every now and then (that’s how I imagine him)? Mephisto is a seller of the idea of death, of change. Feared, bullied, but possessor of some truths.
META includes my own dive into the world of the Gamelan, in this case very much in the context of the narrative, in particular the Ngaben cremation ceremonies in Bali. The rest of the piece is quite sparse in terms of music. Mostly a question of establishing just enough to articulate and support the dialogue, but, for me, a fascinating process in terms of placing words, sound, and music alongside each other.
Poetisk Podcast #4: Flowmatic Blood Moon
Flowmatic Blood Moon was Poetisk Podcast’s first bilingual production, and in many ways the fruit of a joint effort. Shadi Bazeghi’s poems deal with trauma, tension and the effects of war. Large-scale reflections on the current state of our planet, poetically rooted in an everyday intimacy. Mansoor Hosseini, like Shadi originally a refugee from Iran, created music that is both modern and nostalgic; aural landscapes that open up a space for the words and amplify their intensity.
Since there’s not all that much information on Mansoor available online, I thought it might be interesting to conduct an interview with him, which is available as a bonus episode. We discuss his origins as a refugee from Iran, his studies in Europe and rediscovery of Persian culture, dance, movement, kung fu, Frank Zappa, underground cultures in present-day Iran, and his approach to creating the music for the podcast, amongst other things.
Poetisk Podcast #6: Syv lag (Seven layers)
In this podcast one hears the first three chapters of Julie Sten-Knudsen’s poetry collection Syv lag (Gutkind, 2021) with sounds and music by Sandra Boss. The poems revolve around a chaotic birth that ends in an acute caesarean section, about the fragility of the body and nature, about ruins and extinct butterflies. And about a small child who is in the process of experiencing everything for the first time.
Sandra Boss created a quivering electronic sound universe with simple melodies, timbral planes, and recorded sounds. A sound universe that creates a sensual space for the poems to unfold in; where pain and naivety meet, and where the quiet but insistent tone of the poems is supported musically.
Sandra Boss wrote a little about the process ‘behind the seven layers’ in the Poetisk Podcast newsletter (Danish): poetiskpodcast.dk/nyhedsbrev/december-2021
Poetisk Podcast #7: Trut, trut trompeten kommer
Trut, trut trompeten kommer (Toot, Toot the Trumpet Is Coming) is a summary of Bananskolen’s (Lars Skinnebach, Goodiepal & Pals) trip to the Netherlands to, together with various groups dealing with political art and activism, play concerts and mimeograph Lars’ new poetry collection as a zine.
Bananskolen (which is the name of the expansion that was first called Goodiepal, then Goodiepal & Pals and now Bananaskolen (The Banana School), which involves a flexible number of people, including Goodiepal and Lars Skinnebach) went to Rotterdam in September 2021 to print Lars’ new poetry collection together with various groups dealing with political art and activism, including “The Volunteer Firebrigade of the Apocalypse”, “Woodstone Kugelblitz” and “Whistlegraph”. They took over The Trumpet, a magazine about the apocalypse printed on mimeograph machines with the idea of deliberately embracing a process that is old, slow, and cumbersome. In addition, they played two concerts in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The podcast is a summary of the work with the journal/collection of poems entitled Trut, trut trompeten kommer and the concerts.
Poetisk Podcast #8: CIRKUS 3000
There is no climate left. Certainly not many people either. A radio journalist has been given the opportunity to cover CIRKUS 3000, in what is probably the last broadcast in the world. Enclosed in a transparent box, with a synthetic voice as his only company, he tries to describe the spectacle and the unknown beings who are creating it somewhere above the highest structure on earth.
CIRKUS 3000 was the first of five productions in the series Poetisk Podcast Sends 2050, where poets were invited to choose from 5 titles as a point of inspiration. Tomas Thøfner chose Thing/Nothing – which became CIRKUS 3000, with sound design by Kalle Esbjørn Thøfner.
Poetisk Podcast #9: Lyttepost (Listening Post)
Sound and text: René Jean Jensen
In Lyttepost, the philosopher David Hume is quoted as saying that there are no connections between things and events, only coincidences. Can that be true? What about time, the past; what about the seasons – do they also coincide, do they overlap? Is a drop an isolated event, does it want something itself? Can you hear the difference between 11 and 10 stones thrown into the water? What does it sound like when no stone is thrown into the water? Is the silence someone’s, is it nothing, is it a thing? And what is ‘nostalgia’?
The podcast is the second of five productions in the series Poetisk Podcast sends 2050, where poets were invited to choose from 5 titles as a point of inspiration. René dealt with topic of Thing/Nothing, particularly in the ‘experiments’ in the podcast, as well as in a more figurative sense in relation to the concept of ‘nostalgia’ and the feeling that the bandwidth of the ‘now’ contains many ‘things’ that one doesn’t discover in the moment (and therefore experiences/hears as ‘nothing’).
Poetisk Podcast #10: Taras & Anna
Recorded in April, a little over a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In her introduction to the podcast Lene Henningsen (who translated and recorded the poems), at the time still recovering from a bout of Covid, describes “…fever dreams and fantasies, many of which ended somewhere in Ukraine, and that was perhaps not so strange since many of our thoughts at the moment end there, or dwell there, and perhaps find it difficult to find a way back again.”
Taras Shevchenko (1814 – 61), was Ukraine’s great national poet from the Romantic era and a symbol of the country’s independence – a political figure, artist, and etnografer. Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966), an important and highly loved Russian (Ukrainian born) poet, wrote in the shadow of Stalin, censorship, persecution and fear. Both were national treasures, each in their own way. Both were censored and imprisoned for writing and thinking the way they did.
I wrote a little about the complex tangle of cultural identity and imperialism that they provide a touchstone for, in my newsletter at the time.
Poetisk Podcast #11: EFTERTIDEN
EFTERTIDEN (AFTER-TIME/POSTERITY) is a musical universe with a lyrical voice as its centre. The words speak of being alone, of overcoming and surviving, of cold, winter coats, of snow, of the beauty of ashes, of getting through crises. The music hovers around the words, whispering and bubbling, at once distant and near, warm and cool. In passages it resonates with and shares the same space as the words, in others it withdraws and leaves the words in their own space, trying to remember something that seems forgotten.
Niels Frank rewrote his poetry collection “Små guder” (Small gods) (2008) for the podcast, and Rosanna Lorenzen composed the music.
The podcast was the third out of five productions in the series Poetic Podcast Sends 2050, where the poets were given five titles as points of inspiration. CIRKUS 3000 and Lytteposten, the first two in the series, dealt with the title ‘Thing/Nothing’. EFTERTIDEN relates to ‘A Solar Wind in One’s Hair’.
Poetisk Podcast #12: Kære mor (Dear Mom)
Dear Mom, 2050
I’m recording this for you again in the hope that
you will wake up one day
then I’ll tell you everything
you can move in
here with us
I cleaned up for you
the house is as it was when they fetched you
Every day I think about calling you
I forget that you aren’t here
a little further down the road
lives a man whose wife
has also been fetched
Kære mor is a letter, to Mom, recorded in 2050.
The letter gradually records the contours of how the world looks and feels.
Kære mor was the fourth in the series Poetic Podcast Sends 2050, where the invited poets were given five titles as points of inspiration. Kære mor relates to the title ‘A Solar Wind in One’s Hair’.
Poetisk Podcast #13: Atomar (Atomic Scars)
One of Lene’s initial images for the collection was in terms of form:
I saw pages with spread, splintered words before me, with countless variations of spaces and pauses between the statements of the words, images, “melody lines”.
Later she wrote that:
Atomar starts from a present, a real lived present, and visions break out from that present in attempts at change, expansion, movement. The eruptions are violent, atomic. There is cultural criticism, but also the desire to remember the beautiful, the deeply culture-bearing. There is in the microcosm a sadness over the difficulty or impossibility of relationships, and in the macrocosm sadness over something similar; the impossibility of peace and care of the planet.
Between desperation and hope, the atoms continuously burst and form both their and our space, time, and future. And on the souls and bodies that live through it all, are the theatre of it all, atomic scars remain; in the poems fleetingly shaped like parts of a letter, the perhaps tiny empty space between two words, or touched by a breath after a comma –
It’s all in Danish, but an English translation of the poems (which might provide a good companion to following the podcast episodes) has been published and I’ve made a number of short videos with English captions for some of the poems.
Poetisk Podcast #14: Atomernes dans (Dance of the Atoms)
Ever since I heard about the substance of thought, I have had difficulty finding a way amongst the many objects that block the movement of thought. Molecules, ions, atoms. Synapses, fluids, neurons. Not that free thought has become impossible, but difficult, an obstacle course.
Nordic Council Literature Prizewinner Solvej Balle’s hypnotic text Or set in the future through Ida Nerbø’s soundtrack. Curiosity and wonder. The continuous and the punctuated – out into a new sphere. Intense, beautiful, and relentless. (Outside of her sound design work Ida mostly known for her DJ and Techno productions.)
Atomernes dans is the last of five productions in the series Poetic Podcast Sends 2050, where the invited poets were given five titles to choose from as points of inspiration: CIRKUS 3000, and Lytteposten, the first two in the series, dealt with the title ‘Thing/Nothing’. Kære mor, the fourth, and AFTER-TIME, the third, relate to ‘A Solar Wind in One’s Hair’, and Atomernes dans to… ‘The Dance of the Atoms’.