Baptized on the Beach
Patrick Rosal

When I was in grad school in the 90s, I started to think about ways my background in music (DJ culture, jazz, rock, blues) intersected with poetry. I wasn't a reader from a young age like most of the other MFA students. But I loved music, listened carefully to it, was curious about its rules and whims––from Stevie Wonder to Hanon. When I write poems, I compose sonically and maybe even symphonically. I've been thinking about ways to integrate music, sound, and poetry more explicitly. I wanted to incorporate my skills and experience as a music producer with poetry. So I've been taking sound files (some that I collected myself, others that were preexisting) and chopping them down to fragments sometimes as small as a single waveform. I multiply that single waveform so that it can be played over time. Then I shape that repeating waveform with subtractive synthesis and occasionally digital processing to create synth, drum, and percussion sounds. What you hear are the voices of Tiphanie Yanique, Christian Campbell, Rachelle Cruz, and Roger Bonair-Agard. That is to say, even the music behind their whole voices is their voices chopped up and remade. It's part of an ongoing experiment, a larger project that converts samples from police scanners, interviews, found and ambient sounds into percussive and melodic instruments, then combines a score with those instruments with the original voices from which those sounds were designed.

Poet, essayist, and sound artist, Patrick Rosal, is the author of three books, most recently Boneshepherds, which was named a notable book by the National Book Critics Circle and the Academy of American Poets. He has been a featured performer in South Africa, the UK, the Philippines, the Caribbean and throughout the United States, including as a member of the Free! Amplified Ensemble at Lincoln Center. His writing has been published in Grantland, Tin House, Harvard Review, Language For a New Century, Best American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. He is a founding co-editor of Some Call It Ballin', a sports quarterly, and a former Fulbright Fellow. He teaches creative writing and remix poetics on the faculty of Rutgers University-Camden's MFA program.