Alternating Currents | Martin Heslop

PoetTrio Commission by Martin Heslop

Composer Martin Heslop presents a new music and film work commissioned as a response to collaborative poetry translation from the Poettrio Experiment workshops. The voices and poems of Dutch and British poets (Sean O’Brien, Hélène Gelèns, Elma van Haren, W. N. Herbert, Fiona Sampson, Menno Wigman) are set to a new electronic composition. Imagined as an intercepted broadcast, and itself an act of interpretation, Alternating Currents explores the intersection of language, code and music.


Martin is a writer and composer who lives in Newcastle. He was composer and musical director of Bright Phoenix, a critically acclaimed play with songs especially produced for the newly rebuilt Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. He is a regular collaborator with the writers Jeff Young and Lizzie Nunnery, and wrote and performed the music for Lizzie’s play Narvik, which toured last year and is set to open in Norway in 2019.

He also works with poets such as Helen Tookey. He has been artist-in-residence at Metal, Liverpool, where he first experimented working with film, and has worked on many site-specific installations and performances. His latest composition is Horny Handed Tons of Soil, a performance collaboration written as a love letter to Toxteth in Liverpool and the work of Adrian Henri.

Poettrio at IATIS Hong Kong 2018

Three members of the Poettrio research team, principal investigator Francis Jones, and research associates Rebecca May Johnson and Sergio Lobejón Santos will be presenting two papers at IATIS (International Association for Translation & Intercultural Studies) 6th Annual conference. The conference will take place in China at the Hong Kong Baptist University, from 3rd-6th July. 

See you there!

Fiona Sampson’s new biography of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, published in January

The poettrio experiment co-investigator Professor Fiona Sampson has written a new biography of Mary Shelley in time for the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Frankenstein. Published by Profile on 18th January 2018 in the UK, and by Pegasus in May 2018 in the US.

Read the publisher’s blurb below to get an idea of Shelley’s dramatic life. Pre order here:  

Mary Shelley was brought up by her father in a house filled with radical thinkers, poets, philosophers and writers of the day. Aged sixteen, she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley, embarking on a relationship that was lived on the move across Britain and Europe, as she coped with debt, infidelity and the deaths of three children, before early widowhood changed her life forever. Most astonishingly, it was while she was still a teenager that Mary composed her canonical novel Frankenstein, creating two of our most enduring archetypes today.

The life story is well-known. But who was the woman who lived it? She’s left plenty of evidence, and in this fascinating dialogue with the past, Fiona Sampson sifts through letters, diaries and records to find the real woman behind the story. She uncovers a complex, generous character – friend, intellectual, lover and mother – trying to fulfil her own passionate commitment to writing at a time when to be a woman writer was an extraordinary and costly anomaly.

Published for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, this is a major new work of biography by a prize-winning writer and poet.

Francis R. Jones’s translations of Serbian poet Ivan V. Lalić in Modern Poetry in Translation

The poettrio experiment’s principal investigator Francis R. Jones has had his translations (Serbian –>English) of three poems from Pismo by Ivan V. Lalić (1931 -1996) published in the new issue of Modern Poetry in Translation 2017 Number 3 – War of the Beasts and the Animals

Here is one of the poems, shared for free on their website. Visit their site and buy the issue for more.

In Praise of Sleeplessness

Unsleeping eyes which do not only see
Wallpaper patterns and the morning’s stain
Can read a future summer’s history
Painstakingly hand-written by the rain –
For each leaf’s destiny a single line
Attests to form: each drop’s semantics dream
The future garden’s shape, or the design
Of empty skies which sparkle, skies which scream.

The dreadful blessing of a waking night
Is felt when patience unbraids, from inside,
The eyes, then shifts the broadened roots of sight 
To form new roads where new images ride –
A star is bursting into blooms of sea,
And in a glass of water, silence glitters,
Time after time your pasts keep breaking free, 
No sea could taste as beautiful, as bitter.

Insomnia brings a fresh sleep into play:
Your waking self works on another plane – 
Made in the old day’s image, the new day
Has grown a shadow, so is not in vain;
You take your coat, your keyturn still ignites 
The engine – acts exact but other-led – 
Polysemy sings at the traffic lights,
Weaves a new fabric with three hues of thread…

All those who feel by night that time’s unsure 
Will give a different structure to their day, 
From hour to hour; bound by its simple law, 
They ask ‘Is there a structure anyway?’ 
Insomnia spawns another sort of sleep:
The waking state which recreates you teems
With this new sleep, just as rainwaters seep 
Through desert sands. And in it, freedom gleams –

For those who stay awake, nights are elsewhere, 
A star is bursting into blooms of sea,
Primeval forests, choking, drink the air
And water of a summer still to be;
Last image: sleepless eyes, just like a rear- 
View mirror filled with road as it’s unrolled 
To nothing, glimpse at Eden as they peer 
Into the final sleeplessness, the fold.


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