Sound poet and playwright, Hannah Silva’s long awaited debut collection, Forms Of Protest (Penned in the Margins 2013), admirably illustrates the variety of her poetry. Her range encompasses sonic repetition, sonnet, collage, monologue, list, SMS messaging symbols, and probing text and is never predictable. There is a great sense of musicality and of contemporary language use. Indeed my sixth-form students love her work both on the page and read aloud. One of our favourites, ‘Gaddafi, Gaddafi, Gaddafi’, echoes childhood playground chants, and works through its long, flowing, circular lines, as if on a loop, as much as the repetition of the word Gaddafi.
I am going to tell you my name Gaddafi but I am
Going to tell you my age Gaddafi my age is ten
Gaddafi and I am going to tell you about a game
Gaddafi a game that I play Gaddafi I play with my
Friends Gaddafi you can play it alone Gaddafi
Or play it with friends Gaddafi. GO into a room
Hannah Silva’s work positively blurs the edges between voice-in-performance, theatre and poetry. She is a contemporary sound poet of distinction, building on the work of Maggie O’Sullivan, Bob Cobbing and the neo-Dadaists, employing patterns of sense and sound in waves of overlapping textual layer that echo and stay in the mind. Her best work engages with political discourse exposing the limitation and mediocrity of its tropes as well as implicitly indicating the need for deeper communication, as in the long dramatic poem, ‘Opposition’. Here Silva’s playfulness finds full rein and her text cuts through the sense and sound of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ speech delivered on 19th July, 2010 at Liverpool Hope University. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/big-society-speech
Liberalism it can call
Empowerment call it call it
Freedom can it can it
Responsibility (titty) can
I call it: ‘Er Ih Oh-ay-ih-ee’
Her work recalls Bill Griffiths’ poetry in its attempt to undermine the sources of political power and effectively allows the reader to hear the repetitions and patterns of political speech.
You can call it liberalism
You can call it empowerment
You can call it responsibility (titty)
I call: ‘Er Ih Oh-ay-ih-ee’
Her poems of direct speech, such as, ‘Hello My Friend’, ‘The Plymouth Sound’ and ‘An Egoistic Deed’ are as exciting as the cut-ups and broken speech. Reading through the collection one derives a sense of the Kafkaesque emptiness that is contemporary politics. This collection is in the great tradition of radical poetry and deserves to be widely read.
David Caddy 29th December 2013