Throughout the lockdown period it has been poems that have kept me nourished. Of course, I’ve been drinking tea and eating bread and butter and jam and greens, but I’ve also found the time and the isolation have gently led me back into words and the music they carry silently inside them. As Ocean Vuong says, language can “begin and end in the body. Language is something we carry.”
Poems have been a source of quiet joy, a gentle consolation in the midst of so much grief and struggle, and a daily reminder that we are not alone – in our feelings, our fears, our laughter, our memories. As I began to try to envisage how to connect with all the people who used to come to the Day Care Centres where we would chat and sing and play music, it struck me that I could write letters asking for a favourite poem from people. It was wonderful to receive poems in the mail each month and hear about why people love them so much. I then went on to make recordings of people reading their poems and composed my own music to accompany each poem. As a composer, I did my best to ‘hear’ the unheard resonances shimmering beneath the words.
It was a thrill to discover these poems, and the connections they have created between us during this time. Some are whimsical, some nostalgic, and others consoling and encouraging. I hope you enjoy the recordings, that they nourish you, and that we can all continue to carry these precious words as we begin the journey out of isolation.