Category Archives: Auralization

Poet by Poet: Sounding Out Issue Two

I’ve had some interesting feedback on the auralization of Issue One, so I decided to play around with the idea a little bit with the text of Issue Two. Here’s the full thing, poems all synched to the beginning:

Again, it’s kind of a hypnotic mess, but you hear some space there in the middle where the three pieces of Magus Magnus’s Payload Dump all align.  That part seems appropriately garbled and sterile, given the numerical & tactical subject matter. That got me thinking about layering individual poets’ poems from the issue to see what happens. Here are a few:

KJ Hannah Greenberg’s two poems from Issue Two

Aimee A. Norton’s two poems from Issue Two:

Jude Marr’s two poems from Issue Two:

Bill Neumire’s two poems from Issue Two:

Auralization: Composite Whisper of Issue One

Before Issue One was released, I offered a glimpse of what all the poems in the issue looked like when overlaid. We learned a few things about the issue as a whole: most of the poems were short, & most of them were flush-left, except for Dan Boehl’s “Excerpts from Whatever from @emoemoji.” Many poems featured shortish lines, but Rose Swartz’s “Odalisque” & “Quondam”, Erin Dorney’s “This is Not a Poem About Fast Food”, and Vanessa Couto Johnson’s “(t)ravel” & “neces(sit)ies” create some density toward the top right margin of the composite image.  What struck me as interesting about this composite (along with it’s resemblance to the cover of Magus Magnus’s fabulous The Re-Echoes) was that the only legible parts of the image were the lines & words that were outliers.

But reading these poems is a very different experience from just looking at the zoomed-out visualization. Those who know me are aware that I am fascinated by nearly any audio, and am most happy when making noise. So naturally, I decided to investigate Issue One from an aural perspective. Below is the resulting cacophony.

Of course, it’s unlistenable. But if you hang around until the end, it’s kind of creepy and interesting. Unlike the visual representation, Dan Boehl’s white-spacey poem is over in a heartbeat, and Gregory Crosby’s sestina Satan’s Skull Glows White Hot,” is the last & most legible piece. There’s a little bit of “Odalisque” in there at the end, too.

What I did here was convert each poem to speech (I chose a whispery voice to minimize any confusing melodic clashes), and then made a recording of them all, synchronized to the start. I’m wondering if it might have been better to sync to the midpoint; maybe I’ll try that later.

The more I listen to this, the more interested I am in the percussive nature of the most dense portions, and how it almost gives a beat to these poems in conversation. It’s impossible to catch more than a word hear and there, and speech-to-text is definitely not the most poetic way to encounter the sound of these pieces, but I have to admit I like the sound of this.  I sounds like a crowd. It sounds like static. It also sounds like the intro to Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” played on a slowly declining number of  blown-speaker boomboxes. & that’s good enough for me.