Here is a selection of sounds, bits of poetry and prose, that I’ve been carrying round in my head, and that have influenced and inspired Overwinter — I hope you enjoy them and also find them inspiring!
George Oppen “Of Being Numerous” (1968)
By the shipwreck of the singular,
We have chosen the meaning
Of being numerous”
I wrote an MA dissertation on Oppen (a few years ago), and more than any other poet, his words keep coming back to me, especially now.
From Disaster (from The Materials, 1962)
“Ultimately the air
Is bare sunlight where must be found
The lyric valuables.”
Writer Jan Morris, who died in 2020, lived just up the coast (in Llanystumdwy) from where my family comes from in Wales, and a track on Overwinter is dedicated to her. I particularly love her books Conundrum, and Trieste and the Meaning Of Nowhere. This memorial stone is in a valley close by. Courage, Jan!
Nightjars — the sound of these birds is so haunting, and I made this recording last year in Wales, and keep it like a touchstone
JA Baker’s captures the essence of it The Hill Of Summer:
“the churring song of a nightjar seems to furrow the smooth surface of the silence”
Gary Snyder “Turtle Island” (1974)
learn the flowers
Excellent advice. Thanks Gary.
Simon Garfield “On The Map” (2012)
“Before astronomers faced the gallows for suggesting otherwise, our earth stood firmly at the centre of the cosmos…now we each stand, individually, at the centre of our own map worlds. On our computers, phones, and cars we plot a route not from A to B, but from ourselves to anywhere of our choosing.”
I have an unhealthy obsession with maps — if you share this, read this book.
WH Hudson “A Shepherd’s Life” (1910)
“Up here on the turf, even with the lark singing his shrill music in the blue heavens, you are with the prehistoric dead, yourself for the time one of that innumerable unsubstantial multitude, invisible in the sun, so that the sheep, travelling as they graze, and the shepherd following them, pass through their ranks without suspecting their presence. And from that elevation, you look down upon the life of today — the visible life, so brief in the individual, which, like the silver stream beneath, yet flows on from age to age and forever.”
This is how it feels on the Downs. Strong echoes here of Culpeper’s speech in Powell Pressburger’s film A Canterbury Tale
”Follow the old road and as you walk, think of them, and the old England... When you lie flat on your back, and rest, and watch the clouds sailing as I often do, you’re so close to those other people, that you can hear the thrumming of the hoofs of their horses, the sound of the wheels on the road, and their laughter, and talk, and the music of the instruments they carried. And when I turn the bend in the road, where they too, saw the towers of Canterbury, I feel I’ve only to turn my head, to see them on the road behind me.”
We sampled this speech in A Lost Village, the secret track on 1 Inch: 1/2 Mile
Ezra Pound In a Station of the Metro (1913)
“The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.”
This haiku / poem inspired these lines from Return Of The Sun
“a thousand faces in the crowd
on the train we’d not guessed we were so undone
petals thrown on stony ground
as we turn and await the return of the sun”
I saw Colin Stetson play at the Duke Of Yorks in Brighton in 2017 — a powerful, percussive, but subtle juggernaut of a gig — his rapid arpeggios influenced how I wrote and recorded the bass clarinet in Return Of The Sun
Arthur Clough “In Memoriam” (1849)
“It is the simpler thought, and I can believe it the truer.
Let us not talk of growth; we are still in our aqueous ages”
A Victorian poem about travelling through Italy in 1849 seems an unlikely influence, but I shamelessly borrowed this for Root & Branch on Overwinter
“New soft heads to dream of machines
New soft hearts in quarantine
still in our watery places, still in our aqueous ages”