‘Perhaps my whisper was born before my lips’
A listening, reading, writing workshop for the What We Heard series at EMBASSY Gallery, Edinburgh
Saturday 20 February, the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop
‘Perhaps my whisper was born before my lips’ is a sentence I borrowed from Marlene van Niekerk’s The Swan Whisperer (2015): a tale of transmission, disappearance and utterance, that places writing at the edge of language, trafficking with the ephemeral and the unreliable, and in close proximity with listening and with reading aloud, challenging the primacy of the written text through a story of interference, rhythms and non-origin.
‘Perhaps my whisper was born before my lips’: I take this sentence as a prompt for this workshop, in which we will consider the triggers, connections and networks that allow the messy, changing archive of sunken aural memories to resurface. What is the life of a sound beyond its actual sounding, of a word before or after it is uttered, beyond or after or even before and without our experience of it? What radiates from sounds and remains, or excites residues from the past? Do we need to footnote aural memories? Or those rhythms or broken verses that we know by heart and resurface intermittently?
As a writer who has chosen to write in a language that is not her mother tongue, I am interested in a form of writing-as-sounding that is not polished—that prompts to linger, stop, interrupt, and question what is not there, what is unheard, inaudible. Writing as it rummages the untidy archives of the past and its residues, but always works for the moment, using memory as a fictive apparatus.
‘Nothing is over. Everything is over. We have barely begun. We are in the midst of the midst.’ Antena, A Manifesto for Discomfortable Writing (2013)
In this workshop we will listen, read and write through residues beyond note, memory without recording devices. And we will set up possibilities for reading out loud, together, within miscomprehension and intermission, where misunderstanding becomes mise-en-abyme.