by Sean Street - £7.00 Maytree Press (2021)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781913508142 | ISBN 10: 1913508145
A sequence based on a life’s work in radio and a fascinating insight into British broadcasting.
Seán Street is a poet, radio practitioner, teacher, and a writer of many prose works that explore the philosophical nature of sound. He spent his schooldays in Sheffield and student years in Birmingham where he embarked on a career as an actor, initially at the old Birmingham Repertory Theatre, before moving into radio. He has published nine full collections of poems, the latest of which, Camera Obscura (Rockingham Press, May 2016,) examines his preoccupation with time, space and communication, as did his anthology of radio poems, Radio Waves (Enitharmon , 2004). His latest prose work is The Sound of a Room: Memory and the Auditory Presence of Place. (Routledge, 2020.) Between 2017 and 2019, Palgrave Macmillan published his Sound Poetics trilogy: Sound Poetics (2017) Sound at the Edge of Perception (2018) and The Sound Inside the Silence (2019). Other prose includes The Poetry of Radio – The Colour of Sound (Routledge, 2013), which was published in 2013, followed by The Memory of Sound – Preserving the Sonic Past, also by Routledge, (2014). In 2015 Rowman and Littlefield published an updated, extended and revised edition of his 2006 work, The Historical Dictionary of British Radio. Other prose includes The Dymock Poets (Seren, 1994, new edition, 2014) and The Wreck of the Deutschland (Souvenir Press, 1993), an historical study of events surrounding the writing of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s great poem. He is a regular collaborator with the English choral composer, Cecilia McDowall and their work is published by Oxford University Press. Cecilia and Seán are currently engaged on a major three-part work commissioned by Glasgow School of Art Choir, to be premiered in 2022. In the Spring of 2020, BBC Radio 3 commissioned their work, Photo 51, about the crystallographer Rosalind Franklin.
Seán sees no divide between his practice as a radio writer, producer and presenter, his research into sound aesthetics, and his poetry, pointing to the subtitle of the second of his Palgrave trilogy to underline the fact that his interest above all is ‘the aural minutiae of sand and other worldly murmurings,’ and how deep listening helps to explain living. His most recent poetry grows out of a lifetime working with sound, reflecting on its crucial place within and around us, and this new sequence comes directly from listening, using the metaphor of the microphone and recording machine as a non-judgemental witness to Place and history, through pain and cruelty to the consolations and inspirations of art and music and the natural world, finally moving towards a quest for silence and stillness. Isolation, alienation, exile and loneliness are themes; but above all the human voice – its dialects, timbres and its sense of communicating a self – is a recurring motif.
Seán is Emeritus Professor at Bournemouth University, where he gained his PhD in 2003. He now lives in Liverpool.
(Price & availability last checked: March 2021)