Collaborating with Graham Lindsay on ‘The Subject,’ 2004
Alex van den Broek
Working with Graham Lindsay on setting some of his poems to music was a very interesting and fun experience. My lecturer Elaine Dobson told me about Graham's poetry and that he was indeed the 2004 Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at Canterbury University. I set about reading some of his poetry and went to him with some of the poems that had caught my eye. He told me what poems he was happy for me to work with, and I proceeded from there. I met Graham throughout my work on the music and we talked about everything from the poetry to the technicalities of the performance, art and being an artist.
Our conversations also led us to discover how important sound was in poetry (and consequently how it was performed), and I also realised how important it was for me to not hinder this in the music.
I’m also pleased Graham enjoyed the experience and the music. Graham is a very generous and thoughtful person and it was a delight to work with him, I also learnt so much about his poetry and poetry in general.
‘The Subject’ was performed 10 October 2004 at the University of Canterbury School of Music. Composer: Alex van den Broek. Performers: Peter Dykes (oboe), Alys Cordeaux (soprano), Steven Fischer (percussion) and Iain Brandram-Adams. (cello)
Text from The Subject by Graham Lindsay (Auckland UP, 1994): ‘Tangi,’ ‘Crisis,’ ‘To say nothing of.’
Bird prints in the sand
in ways we recover.
the vast shadow of a freighter
then pink then grey
of traces at the dangerous
notebook to abdomen, guts on the line
and appreciation, 'self-portrait'
and free from interruption as the opportunity
To say nothing of
before you start writing
Because it gets
to say nothing