Rachel O’Neill talks with Siân Robyns about listening practice

Rachel O’Neill. Photo by Tim Gruar

After the June AGM, current resident Rachel O’Neill talked with Siân Robyns, journalist and former Trustee of the Randell Cottage. Rachel provides a summary of their talk below:

I am currently engaged in a series of experiments sparked by my personal ‘listening practice’ where I consider connections between the imagination, poetry and sound.

As the 2023 Randell Cottage Writing Fellow part of my ‘listening practice’ involves collecting found instruments and sounds and exploring their auditory possibilities. I then ‘play’, record and edit these into sound works, which in turn enable me metaphorically speaking to go ‘inside the sound’, sparking a sort of ‘audial image’ that seeds various forms of poetry.

This ‘listening practice’ is augmented by research focused on music and poetry alongside evolving collaborations with musicians, composers and sound super fans.

Engaging with the ‘audial imagination’ is at the heart of my process for developing the two collections of poetry I am working on while in residence at Randell Cottage, ‘Symphony of Queer Errands’, a hybrid-form book that draws on poetic and musical forms, and a book of prose poems provisionally titled ‘Master of the Female Half-Lengths’.

Rachel has also read their sound poem ‘My life, again’.

This is an image of text saying the following: "My life, again

I dress in my life, again. My life is a leaf—skin, veins, paper. After killing, you turn to poetry. A summer of geese, the gossamer of trees. It is a new ritual. After bathing, I select the one with soft serrated edges, a yellowing crush of dreams. I listen to my own breath as it makes me real, with a twist. When I cannot shed enough astonishment I bend my face to the sky. the atonal canopy, like an inverted song, suspends me in quiet for a few hours more. At last all returns, like and estrange memory—naked and exhausted, I curl up in a pile and fall asleep. "