Tuesday Poem: The changing soundscape of public space

March 17, 2014

The changing soundscape of public space

Once shhh-surrounded
throttled by library snakes
now emboldened chat stretches —

bites the sluggish ears
of those who want purer air
in my day, we mumble

in my day we sat straight
whispering sweet infractions —
wrapped in official silence

muffled with a quieter wool.

P.S. Cottier

That poem was just commended in the Yass Show Poetry Competition (not the bush poetry division) on Sunday. I’m afraid I piked on attending the event, as I was exhausted. I had performed poetically the night before with a delightfully accented Texan, a poet who removed his skirt rather like the female members of Abba in their glittery prime, and a number of strangely assertive, neigh, militant horses.*  So I had a good excuse. It was a wonderful night at the Word Co-op.

You could look at some photos here. I am the least cool person.


*That wordplay is totally Roshelle Fong’s.  She performed an hilarious and thoughful piece enacting various questions of animal rights, wearing costume horse-heads.  Delightfully accented Texans sometimes perform under the name of Good Ghost Bill, and Ma Ya Ga Ng Re Ne’s soundscape explored the schlongier aspects of gender.

For further poetry, please touch this feather:

Tuesday Poem

By the way, however exhausted I am, the organisers of this festival (called You Are Here) are far more tired. I hope to post a photographic essay illustrating the ageing of some of them. Here, for example, is a photo of one of them that I took last night:

What is this Transit Bar?

2 Responses to “Tuesday Poem: The changing soundscape of public space”

  1. Zireaux said

    Nicely written, Penelope. Reminds me of a tribute paid to the lovely librarians at New Zealand’s Takapuna Library in the very last lines of the original Res Publica:

    …but if my fallen nation be known
    to future readers, I thank the nurses
    who served as midwives to these verses
    by copying a notice every morning
    and giving it to my neighbors. Its warning:
    “All talking and pop-culture is restricted,
    lest from this library you’ll be evicted.”

    • pscottier said

      I like that tribute, Zireaux.

      Though I do find whispering more annoying than a conversation in a normal voice. At the Petherick Reading Room of the National Library, for example, anyone who has a phone that goes off is subject to death by a million glares, but some of the more elderly readers will have lengthy conversations in theatrically ‘quiet’ voices.

      The ‘we’ of the poem is not quite me.

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