Interview with Denise Saul

Could you reflect on your relationship to the telephone, in the past or in the present, and say something about how this might have informed your poem?

Previously the telephone was the focus of communication for the family. Now I hardly ever use the telephone. The distant relationship between family and the telephone informed my choice of poetic form.

How did you go about producing the work for this project? Were there any materials, anecdotal, literary or otherwise, that proved generative for you?

I read Dr Sarah Jackson’s website on telephony.

How much was the recording of the poem, and the format(s) through which the poem will be reproduced (i.e. a public phone booth and mobile app), a consideration in the composition?

I did not consider the recording of my poem or the format through which the poem was produced. I had already established that my poem would be a prose poem (with spacing around and within the poem itself). I wanted to introduce spacing or pauses to illustrate the pauses of the speaker on a telephone.

Do you have any thoughts on how the project might have affected the way that you think about the relationship between poetry and telephony, or between writing and technology more broadly?

My late mother, who is the subject of my poem, could not use a telephone after experiencing a stroke in 2010. This project allowed me to consider the relationship between speech dysfluency and technology. I thought about my mother’s inability to make herself heard over the telephone (how a device for transmitting voices over a long distance could not transmit my mother’s aphasic disturbances or voice).

Are there any other reflections you can make about the process of producing the poem, or your participation in the project?

I hardly ever use my telephone at home. In fact, the telephone is now an ornament on the table.

May 2020