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13 March 2023

Posted by Tabby Hayward

Ekphrastic Jukebox - Writing to Music

This week, we experimented with 'ekphrasis' - creating new 'art', in our case writing, from existing 'art', specifically music. In our Ekphrastic Jukebox, we were writing to PJ Harvey's 'On Battleship Hill' to start and then Stravinsky's Rite of Spring!

Tara's first piece is from the PJ Harvey and the other three are all from different 'moods' of Rite of Spring:

Clouds strike

Minds fight

Rhythm of running

Forest falling 

After the sun has faded

Tonight, bare feet dancing in 

leaves on the ground

Ethereal sounds

and feet smash against delicate sticks,

as they dance

Nature is cruel

These moments are beautiful

A free form dance

Leaving them entranced 

Women in long skirts

Relishing falling leaves

Turning from greens, to oranges

and reds

Two seasons, running through one dance 

As the ice came

they sat down and held hands 


Gliding across the ice

Effortlessly mesmerised

Looking into each other’s eyes

They weren’t supposed to be 

Not in this way

He clings, tenderly, to her waist 

and she leaps

as the music rises and falls

This is a love story 

But it’s not the one we are 

supposed to know


She sees shadows outside 

while closing her curtains for the nights

Temperature rising

Her intuition gives her the pause of insight

Unease as she settles under the blankets

Her bed feels as large and comfy as the one in the Princess and the Pea

She drifts into deep sleep

and then jolts herself into bolt upright to be..


Wil's response to PJ Harvey's 'On Battleship Hill'

Driving down a winding road, the crava’s of the mountain creates that long stretch in between the road and the audacious rocks that carry it on its shoulders. A flash of the car pasts through smelling of diesel and warm tarmac as it creates that burning sensation of rush. The Sun is drifting over from the east into the west as the heat wave in the horizon paints a pretty amber scotching and blazing itself into the ground. One of them is hanging on the front windscreen mirror as they let the wind of opportunity brush past them.  The Other has one hand on the steering wheel and the other lying on the top of the door. They feel like they are both in the prime of their element as the endorphins rushes to the top of their heads, gigging and laughing away.


Aurora's response to PJ Harvey's 'On Battleship Hill'

Beside Myself

It’s a room of dusty brown planks

that I sit in, grey shoes with black

socks poking from their lips. I’m

beside myself with the gravity of

it, the ceiling that crashes down

on me every second of every

other day. That other day, yeah.

I don’t know what to do with myself

but huddle my knees, scrape the dirt

from the shirt pockets and bleed.

I’m a partisan, draftee, conscript

pulled to the ranks of dead men

standing and I’m not giving up, just

let me breathe. The air is mud.

I’m hardly alone, there are skeletons;

scarecrows barking orders from

their mouths full of straw. They

make a scratching sound, like

a record player through an old

gramophone. The sky splits, my

breath slips, and it drops to the floor.

Pick up my breath, dust it off, wear

it on my uniform alongside the

rat skins and the bones, the teeth.


Charlotte's response to PJ Harvey's 'On Battleship Hill':

The sea beat against the window as the ship made its way through the smooth and unseasonably calm waters. The beats of the waves seemed to stir even the weariest of souls from their slumber to go on deck. One person remained below though to listen to the waves beat. 

The waves had been rough and somewhat agitated throughout the voyage and especially since it was deep winter, the whole crew expected the rain and the winds to be a lot stronger than they were. After the fierce rain storm last night, the whole crew were just glad that the ship was still standing! 

The rain had caused little to no damage outside considering how thick and fast it had come down. The floorboards were somewhat soaked but many of the crew just carried on unaware of what could have befallen them if they were on deck that night.

The waves lapped at the window of the lower decks continuing their struggle to look at what everyone was up to, especially the person who was sitting behind the desk below. They seemed annoyed at someone still being below when it was such a nice day outside. The person however, ignored them. They had heard waves for most of their life, they didn’t care what the waves wanted. 

The person sighed as the waves got louder. He turned behind him and noticed the old friend almost waiting for him to notice them. It was almost like the sea was waving at him. He tutted and looked at the many papers scattered across the desk in front of him. The hue of the blue ink staring back at him almost trying to persuade him to continue. 

He smirked at the paper and grabbed his coat. If the sea wanted him at that moment, he had to answer it. The waves wouldn’t give up that easily and he didn’t want the waves to suddenly turn against him on this voyage.


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