The Sound of Place
Interesting post Yasmin. I've tried both: using phonetics - especially with birds - and descriptive words. I find I prefer describing sounds directly or using synonyms to evoke sounds for the reader that they might know, but sound definitely forms part of my attention to the environment when I am writing about landscape and place. It's hard to do sometimes as we're such visual creatures and it can help to remove that sense to take notice of sound - to pause and to listen closely. To touch too...I love approaching place this way - easier in some settings than others though!
These are interesting thoughts on sound in landscape, Yasmin. I will take them with me as I travel to the Outer Hebrides this week. I too follow Nicola Chester, and have a copy of Gallows Down.
You post some really interesting questions Yasmin! I think that in the poetry world the more experimental approach to representing sound would be more openly received but I do think readers can struggle to engage with unusual typography. I was trying to write the sound of a crow recently and it is incredibly hard to do but I enjoyed your suggestions for using symbols. I think about sound a lot in my work and often pause on my daily walks to listen to the noise around me, picking out the different strands, often surprised by what I can hear.
Have you read Lev Parikian's piece in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/10/country-diary-in-a-bitterly-cold-cemetery-the-sound-of-early-spring ? As well as being a writer, Lev is a conductor, and it's as if he hears individual birds as instruments in an orchestra. Our sense of smell is another hard sense to write about. In the English language, we have woefully few words to describe smells, and yet they are so much a part of our enjoyment of life... of food, nature, people (as so many found when they lost their sense of smell after having Covid). Interestingly, there are other, some would say more primitive, languages that have many more words. Maybe we've just forgotten 'how' to smell, how to listen, how to describe our senses? It's a fascinating subject.
This is a really interesting idea, trying to represent sounds directly with phonetics, one I don’t think I’ve ever encountered in my reading before. I just spent some time in Tuscany and being spring there, the birdsong was irrepressible. A cacophony of noise that began at about 5am every morning and added the soundscape to the idyllic setting. I remember thinking to myself I wish I could capture this in my substack but wasn’t sure I could so I didn’t try. Wish I’d come across this idea earlier!