Speakers2: the CD

1 March

The CD has now been pressed, the cover and labels printed, and the first copies will be ready late tomorrow, when Michael and I combine the fruits of our labours. We’ve called it “Speakers2” because it is the second composition created from these poems, and because it is the two-speaker version of the four channel piece, which I called “Speakers”, because of the hardware and because of the voices which, possibly, have been unheard.

Here’s the cover:

It’s perhaps a bit over the top, bit it does the job, I think.

All writers and readers who generously contributed to the original piece will get a copy, whether or not their work has made it to “Speakers2”. It will take a while to get around to everyone, though, and there are at least two people who I appear to have lost contact with, as their email addresses bounce.

So, if you are, or know of, someone who is on the list of contributors but isn’t in touch with me, send me an address, or come and see me, for a copy.

My budget only can manage one copy each, I’m afraid, so you’ll have to buy all those additional copies for friends, families and literary agents.

Here’s the credit list for the CD, in order of appearance. There are also some fragments, mainly taken from my work and a poem by Felicity Skelton, read by Elizabeth Uruchurtu, Ashley Uruchurtu and Anne-Florence Dujardin.

We have come here to write Liz Loxley Liz Loxley
I will be a clean white gate to him Noel Williams Rosa Fernandez
My grandma told me Carolin Pellinore Victoria Edwards
We wash them in dust Cathy Bolton Hazel Jones
A snakeline of soldiers Nuala Ni Chonchuir Laura Wake
On leaving Belsen Liz Loxley Shan Morley Jones
She leans at the door Noel Williams Tricia Durdey
She counts today’s eggs Noel Williams Lisa Wallace
She shovels earth Noel Williams Kelly Watson
He had a bad head wound Susan Clegg Claire Lockwood
A Kodak brownie catches us Joan Hoare Kay Burnett
In this field of crosses Noel Williams Laura Wake
My mum worked at Hadfields Carol Cooper Angie Launer
They gave them lipsticks Helen Hill Felicity Skelton
Ease the burden Maureen Coppack Elizabeth Harding
Political decisions Kirstie Edwards Kirstie Edwards
Come to me now Noel Williams Chella Quint
Our shore is lost Angelina Ayers Linda Lee Welch
Outside intensive care Judy Worham Sue Beckingham
Your Nieuport Noel Williams Bryony Doran
Here we stand Kerrie Buley Hilary Cunliffe Charlesworth
I think of the child Noel Williams Sarah Thomasin
She sewed my father into his Home Guard uniform Diana Stimely Diana Stimely
It is not the words of the guns Noel Williams Natasha Williams
Kate Adie sightings Fay Musselwhite Linda Lee Welch
I was going to hit her Sue Bodnar Lisa Wallace
Bastards Judy Worham Susan Clegg
Looking at my family in photographs Jenny Hockey Shirley Lindley
The houses are smears Noel Williams Natasha Williams
In wartime women turn to red Maggie Butt Felicity Skelton
Spraying the trays Cora Greenhill Cora Greenhill
Grass squeaks beneath our bums Elizabeth Cheetham Jill McKenna
I know what war is, it’s suffocation Noel Williams Sarah Thomasin
Mama started stocking up on beans Linda Lee Welch Chella Quint
Every fifth round Noel Williams Ione Mako
Then the end of the war Maureen Weldon Katherine Venn

You’ll see that most of the poems are not referred to by their titles, but their first lines. This is because that’s how we’ve known them and referred to them in all our records. And in some cases we have only used parts of a poem, so it’s the first line of that part. Sorry if this is annoying or confusing. You’d be surprised how complicated a project like this turns out to be, even just keeping track of everything. In fact, I think I’ll add a boring page on the logistics, just for my own amusement and in case anyone else wants to attempt something like it.

Which reminds me: if anyone wants to do something like this, and either wants to involve me, or get some insights from my experience, I’d be very pleased to help. I’d love to be involved with more collaborative work like this, especially if I don’t have to do most of the work! I would also really love to record some of my work for another project, as one thing that this piece has not given me is any chance to record my own readings. (I didn’t think it through, did I?)

But if anyone wants to use any of the material on the CD, please remember that you can’t without the permission of the writer and, I would say, the reader, too. Experience says that most people will happily agree, because people are generous and also like their work being circulated, but that’s not the point: you have to give them the choice. I’m not just talking about law here, I’m talking ethics and also, I think, good manners.

23 Feb

Michael has now finished the composition, and I’ve just listened to it properly, and I think it is pretty good. It’s not s powerful, perhaps, as the full four channel piece, and there is no variation in it. Nevertheless, I think there are some brilliant poems within it, some excellent readings, and Michael has done a superb job of gently combining them so that it works as a single piece of thirty minutes’ impact, rathen then simply a set of poetry readings. I hadn’t expected the CD to be so good, and now I’m really pleased we took this decision.

The CD sleeve is almost finished, though needs some tweaking: but I’ve decided there should be a booklet to accompany it, too, so that’s what I’m working on now whilst we press the first CDs. I’m intending to give every contributor a copy, if I possibly can, but it will take a while to get this sorted out, and meanwhile I’ll want a few available at Bank St to sell in case there’s any interest.

15 Feb

Michael and I are now progressing the CD or DVD (we’re still not sure which!) from the exhibition. This is a cut down version of the audio work, to give a stereo track. Most people have given permission to use their work for this additional purpose, for which we’re very grateful.

The reason we’re not certain whether to make it audio-visual or merely audio comes from the quality of the images. I created these primarily to draw the listener in a little, to create small visual puzzles which would hold the listener in the installation while the audio tracks played, and also to encourage the listener to move towards one monitor or another, in order to make sense of the image (many of which contain obscured text) and so effectively choose to listen to that channel.

All of this reasoning goes away if there are only two audio tracks, and a single set of images: there’s little or no competition between channels, and no reason to puzzle or intrigue the listener. Also, the images will become more significant, comparatively speaking, shown on living room TVs at watchable heights. Which means they have to carry more weight or value in the overall piece, and I’m not sure that many of them are interesting enough for this purpose.

I haven’t exactly decided against the visual track. We may even produce both a CD and a DVD version and leave the choice up to the visitors. However, if anyone reading this has visited the exhibition, seen those images, and has a view on whether they are worth including or not, I’d be interested to hear your comments.

Meanwhile, Michael has produced a small sample of the track. I think in the business it’s called a “teaser”, a fragment of the full piece to entice people to buy. You can listen to it here:


Extract includes poems by: Noel Williams, Liz Loxley, Fay Musselwhite, Cathy Bolton and Carolin Pellinore.

Featured readers: Liz Loxley, Rosa Fernandez, Victoria Edwards, Sarah Thomasin, Linda Lee Welch, Hazel Jones and Natasha Williams. All rights reserved.

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