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A Drop of Something Poetic

A Drop of Something Poetic

I missed posting last week because I had an appointment to record my audiobook of Dressing Up at Stiwdio Felin Fach recording studio in Abergavenny. My appointment was on the Monday but I spent Sunday continuously running through my memorised poems and making sure I had them on the tip of my tongue ... to the extent I didn't have time to write a blog post.

The Good, The Bad and the Book

After much deliberation I decided I would include a few explanatory introductions that I expand on in live performances but which are not present in the print edition. I thought back to the many audiobooks that I have listened to from South Bank Centre Poetry Library, which more often than not have the poet introducing the recordings and those are the ones I most enjoy listening to. I also added footnotes to my poem ‘The Kapluna Effect’ which uses 3 Inuit words ... I intended to footnote those in the print copy but plain and simple forgot! and I added a short introduction to the poem Mandelbrot, explaining what a Mandelbrot is (it is a mathematical device that can look like a very rocky outcrop). I've never performed Mandelbrot (it's one that I use screen reader Hazel for on the audiobook) so it's never needed a performance intro before.

Benoit Mandelbrot (1924–2010), Polish-born French mathematician. Mandelbrot is known as the pioneer of fractal geometry.
(Oxford English Dictionary)

Another thing I forgot to put in at the proofing stage was a description of the pamphlet cover. As a blind person I always feel this is hugely important, especially if it is a pictorial cover. My pamphlet's cover is red with white text but, if it wasn't my pamphlet I would have liked to know that. So Hazel starts the audiobook with an mp3 of the cover description, copyright info and acknowledgements — any commercial audiobook contains those copyright missives right at the start, so mine has too :)

Pop Goes the Mechanics

After consulting with the studio engineer we decided to record my memorised poems first and then record Hazel second. I did 9 poems and Hazel did 11 plus two introductions — one being the cover description, copyright information and acknowledgements, the other being the contents page. We used exactly the same mic setup for both sets and I'm really happy with the result.

I didn't know how the results would sound until I'd been sent the mp3 files. Was it going to be significantly better than my home attempt which, to my critical ear, did not sound professional enough to be sold commercially? I received the full set of mp3s that afternoon ... and they are significantly better!

The Mechanics

The microphone we used was very similar to the one I use at home — a condenser mic — but it was placed much closer to my face than I normally do, plus he used a pop shield to help reduce the plosive p and t sounds. The result is amazing! It really does sound professional and I think it was money well spent.

The Proof of the Pudding

I haven't totally decided on whether to add a blog shop page in which purchases can be made, or whether I'll just sell them at readings or as download links. Although the intent of these audio versions is so that blind people can enjoy my writing as much as sighted people, I know many sighted people who love listening to audio books; if you are such a person you are very welcome to contact me through this site, or leave a comment on this post, and I can email you the mp3s ... the audiobook costs the same price as the print copy, £5. So, to whet your whistle, here are two poems from the recording studio session.

Ladies first! I have chosen a poem called Antipasti performed by Hazel. A poem about appetisers seems somehow fitting.

Muggins second. This is one I memorised two days before the recording session. It was one I badly wanted to do because there are so many questions in it which sound more like statements when Hazel reads them — she isn't programmed to raise her intonation to indicate a question mark like a human reader would. Although this is not the title poem of the pamphlet, for me it is the epitome of the spirit of the pamphlet ... the joyous abandon of taking a little bit of time to don your Glad Rags (read by Giles).

Bag Packing

This week sees me return to Swansea University to prepare to study the MA in creative writing. Priorities for this week are:

  • Transferring the electronic copies of course texts from my laptop (which will remain at home) to an external drive
  • Shopping for domestic goods ... cleaning products and the like
  • Making sure all the charging cables and power supplies for my multifarious electronic devices are present and correct — a task even harder than getting a toddler to put its shoes and socks on!
  • Installing my electronic dictionaries (I use the OED, the Chambers dictionary and the Chambers thesaurus.)

First Things First

But first of all I'm going to a poetry reading in Cardiff today! Poet Susan Richardson's Words the Turtle Taught Me tour comes to Cardiff today and I have managed to find transportation to get there! I don't care how busy I am ... there's always time for a drop of something poetic :)

#DressingUp #Audiobook ##Packing #SusanRichardson @susanpoet

Published inblindnesseducationPoetrytechnology


  1. I came to your post via the photo of Susan’s Turtle launch in Cardiff. I lived in Swansea for 20 years (we moved to Suffolk six years ago), and studied a number of Continuing Education poetry courses at Swansea University. I also benefited enormously from the poetry projects laid on by Disability Arts Cymru. I do hope the MA goes well for you: this sounds really exciting.

    • Giles Giles

      thanks for commenting, Caroline. It’s a little bit crazy how many poetry people I encounter who have connections to Swansea! I lived in Swansea for 10 years last time round and it is one place where I truly feel at home 🙂 xx

  2. Great post, Giles, even if it took me a while to get to it. I quite liked your reading of the poem, and Hazel’s was also okay. Generally speaking, I’m not as fond of women’s voices as men’s. I also liked your humor in the poem you read. Fabulous that you are off to Swansea, at last! Does the university give you a computer to use, then? What great fun begins for you soon, and lots of learning, too. Enjoy this new/old life and write it up in a new booklet of poems!

  3. Giles Giles

    no, the uni doesn’t give me a computer to use, but Student Finance Wales have given me one with a different screen reader. Obviously there are computers in the uni library if I needed to use anything but I’m taking the new laptop and my old tablet device so should be fine … if I can figure out how to connect to the university wifi! 😉

    I get into the car in about 5 hours and then the future comes into focus … it’s a bit terrifying right now! It’s about 10 months since I decided to apply and all those unknowns suddenly snap into focus as I get into the car! 🙂 xx

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