Some things in life just leave their mark on you, affect you. On our first holiday in Madeira we chanced upon a flower festival and I saw a lady selecting blooms from a display which people were allowed to do as it was ending. However, they were not for herself, she promptly walked up to my wife, a stranger to her, handed the bouquet to her and then walked off down the street. I watched her go, this small elegant elderly lady and I am sure she was just a member of the public in Funchal. What an act of kindness, a thought for someone else, a creator of memories. Isn’t it good to be human sometimes? How far does an act of kindness and selflessness reach? I’ve held on to this memory until finally I produced a poem from it which I like to think is my gift back to the lady, the island and its people. We had the flowers in our room for our whole two week stay. The actual flowers are in the vase below. My poem they led me to create is also below. Sometimes the world can be a truly wonderful place.
It has taken me a while to post this but it relates to my fairy recent (for me) post The Fastest Poems Ever Written and this is a recording I made of Looking At An Arthur Berry Exhibition. The tone of it is about my response to his paintings, which are very dark colour-wise, and very reflective of life in a raw sense, a bit like Lowry which Arthur’s works were exhibited with.
Here is the final tone-poem I recorded in response to my tour of his work. You can read more on my earlier post if you wish, The Fastest Poems Ever Written.
Poetic splinters, you can get them for sure, many poetry enthusiasts have dared to guide their poetry to left of centre in one way or another. The Beat poets for example, and often this doesn’t sit too well with ultra traditionalists. Without new views on poetry however there are no new developments and I can’t help thinking that word-smithing such as Rap and Slam Poetry to name but two splinters have helped many young people to engage with the sacred art.
For my own part, try as I may, I cannot peel my poetry away from a sound enhanced treatment, and I am now pretty sure that what may be best described as digitally enhanced poetry will be around for quite some time yet. I am though also keen to keep myself in a straight line down that central poetry course we call traditional poetry and to this end I have tracked down a local Poetry Stanza of The Poetry Society and when I am able I intend to be a regular at the group (if they will have me of course).
Why am I continually fascinated by digitally enhanced poetry? The answer lies in what can be done with it, how it can colour the reading, give it atmosphere and nuances, how it can interplay and bring mood, how it can render a partnership with the imagination. That is ok I think, yes? It’s another way of rendering the essence of what otherwise may be plain unaccompanied prose. Does poetry need this? No of course not, but we live in the age of the digital world and it seems a shame not to let poetry in on it. I am hoping to continue the work in 2016 and add to my Bandcamp collection, but I am also hoping to develop my traditional skills and if you want to improve your game it plays to be in a good team surrounded by good players, preferably better than yourself, hence my aspirations towards my local Poetry Stanza. It seems like a sensible plan methinks. I’m enthused by the thought of it at least having lost my poetry mojo somewhat when everything in the world seemed to be pushing me away from the thing I know I love.
So, anyway, have a listen to the last thing I’ve done, Under The Stars. It is poetry about my dad, something we shared together on special nights. I hope something of those moments can be found by listening to it. I hope too, that you may see how the words and sound-atmosphere can work in synergy. It is almost essential to listen through headphones, as that offers the nuances really. Peace to all.
One thing about poetry is that it certainly opens up horizons in more ways than you know, not just the words themselves but a whole journey. Poetry takes you to places, literally! On Sunday 13th September 2015 I was very lucky to be invited to read my poetry at the Colourscape Music Festival staged at Clapham Common in London. I performed in collaboration with Sound-artist David Stevens who, remarkably via the bespoke software he created, samples my words as I read them live and instantly creates an atmospheric background upon which my poetry is layered. David’s sampling is on the fly and the sound created is influenced by my delivery and intonation. I feel very fortunate to have taken part in this festival which ran for a number of days and is in its twenty sixth year I believe. Definitely a big milestone in my poetry journey for sure and it follows my having a piece exhibited in the International Exhibition ‘Poems Places and Soundscapes’ held at The Cube Digital Gallery in Leicester last year.
Follow your dreams I say, and you never know what may happen next. I realise that lots of the enjoyment gained from poetry is from the process of it, the creation, the journey itself and not just the poem in itself, the whole thing is poetry. I performed readings of two different poems three times that afternoon, each one lasting ten to fifteen minutes. It was brilliant to be alongside fellow poets Bo Meeson, Cathy Broome and vocal innovator Jon Michel-Van Schouwberg and a privilege to work with David Stevens who is also a composer and freelance sound engineer. A wonderful experience altogether.
If you ever get the chance to experience Colourscape then I really recommend it, I have never seen anything quite like it and you can get lost in the myriad of chambers experiencing colour in a whole new way. The performances are all relayed by loudspeakers placed so that they are heard inside Colourscape wherever you are,even if you are not in the performance area itself. It makes for a unique audio-art and visual experience like nothing else. Below are some photos of it.
I’m very fortunate to have this poem ‘The Ghosts Of Who We Are’ included in an exhibition currently open in Leicester, UK at the Phoenix Art Centre in The Cube Digital Gallery located there. If you are interested in sound enhanced poetry, the whole thing is well worth exploring.
If you are interested in experiencing a truly international range of spoken word, poetry, video and sound then I highly recommend a visit. The facilities are excellent, parking is next door and a cafeteria is on hand. Marvellous.
Inspired by the exhibition and armed with my portable recorder I ventured into Leicester city centre that same day, made some field recordings and created this additional poem. Clicking on the title of the poem will bring up the words and some observations.
I hope you enjoy…
There is a strange but compelling attraction to Whales for me. I don’t really know why only that it is there and very strong too. It feels like an emotional bond of some sort and I am struck by the way they do not set out to attack people, in spite of much persecution by people. It’s as though they are wiser. Maybe they are the custodians of something. I’m sure the scientist and biologist will give me the cold explanations of their presence, place and purpose, but it will never shake my belief that there is something very special about whales, something intangible. I hope you enjoy this poetry with sound. It is my own poem read by me and the music is my own playing and composition. What I’ve tried to do is impart to the piece something of what I feel. Enjoy and best wishes….Neil I’ve called the poem Thermoclines Thermoclinesa poem by Neil William Holland. a.k.a. Soloneili What am I following, this pull call pull of something higher? Rising and bellowing thermoclines mellowing deep subsonic viscous noise, resonating through rib-cages, grasping aortas, whale song. Blues, Minkes, Orcas.
This is a poem inspired by weeds I have seen clinging high up on buildings with only the mortar between the bricks to offer a foothold. This never ceases to amaze me as they defy the power of the wind and the rain, survive the frost and the snow, and say everything about the power of mother nature. It is a free verse poem.
Rascally Weeds.........a poem by Neil william Holland a.k.a. Soloneili, thepoetinthecar
Rascally weeds in tiny crevices
wild on Peregrine-cliffs of lofty towers.
Clinging tight in winds that flow
through lanes of pinioned bowers.
You flourish proudly in man's mortar
steadfast in reclamation,
of mother earth and green-belt slaughter
atop your barren station.
Rascally weeds on high I see you
float your fractal cells in air,
defying all man tries to do
your life-force chiding everywhere.
Rascally weeds of flower and tendril leaves
resplendent in your mother's power.
What clinging mischief nature births,
on mankind's concrete tower.
Click on post heading to hear the track.
This is recorded through a THX certified microphone using bespoke layered sound design played on an Oxygen2 61 key midi keyboard combined with a Tibetan singing bowl that took me a few years to find (finding the right singing bowl for you as an individual is not an easy thing if you believe in harmonics in respect of people as well as objects). The track is sufficiently long (just over ten minutes) to enable relaxation and subtleties are obtained through rhythms and weight via the velocity sensitive keyboard when playing. This is the first of a series aimed at meditative qualities that help in the search for the state of Nirvana, or simply to chill out with, depending on your own perspective.Best wishes always. Neil
Just some eye and ear candy I’d like to share. I got a free backing track on a magazine cover disc, added a few extras and wondered if a lion’s roar could be musical? Then I layered some animation et voila! Hope you enjoy. Best wishes. Neil
Why do I call this a sound sculpture? Well, it has to do with the fact that I realised as I was creating it and making adjustments by code manipulation that it was in fact just like sculpting a sound sample or using a pallette knife on an oil painting. The end result is a representational study where the sound-imagery depicts something for each listener. I was going to use this as a sound bed for a poem but I have decided to leave it to stand as it is. In terms of my concept I was going to write a poem about someone following their brother into the factory and that sets the tone for their life. They like christmas and their one holiday per year and an otherwise mundane existence is punctuated by occasional rare events. This probably does represent the lives of some people and I have certainly known people who fit into this like a glove and they were wonderful working class folk who I still hold very dear in my memory. Maybe the sound-sculpture will not be like that for you, but maybe the sounds are so strong that it will. Matters not really, but I just wanted to share my creativity with others and that is reward enough for me. Best wishes. Neil
Beginning March 20th, 2016 Poetry Breakfast will once again serve a little poetic nourishment every morning. Start your day with our new expanded menu. Poems, of course, are our specialty. But we will also be serving a fuller menu that includes poetry related creative non-fiction such as letters to and from poets, essays on poetry, and anything else that might feed a poet and poetry lover’s soul.