Summer Scholars: Sonic NYC and Poetic Mapping

New York City street scene from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress.
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The sounds of 1920s New York City, and the art of poetic mapping.

The Eccles Centre’s Summer Scholars season of free in-person lunchtime talks explores the exciting and wide-ranging research into the Americas collections at the British Library by the Eccles Centre’s Fellows and Award winners. The talks take place in the British Library Entrance Hall bookshop and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

Varèse and Dos Passos: Listening into the City

Published and premiered within a few months of each other in 1925/26, Edgard Varèse’s orchestral ‘Amériques’ and John Dos Passos’s novel Manhattan Transfer dragged the sounds of New York onto the page and into the orchestra.

Philip Clark considers how the sound of the city shaped these works, and changed how their authors thought about the structure, pacing and make-up of their art. What were the influences they shared? And what seeds did they sow for later New York composers and sound artists?

Poetic Mapping and the Research Journey

With reference to his 12 months’ research at the British Library, Lee Mackenzie explores the artistic practice of Poetry Mapping. He discusses the development of the practice as it relates to engaging with archival material, how the two media relate and complement each other, the subtext(s) of maps and mapping, and the issues that arise when deciding whether to map or not to map.

Philip Clark is a music journalist and author who has written for many leading publications including The Wire, Gramophone, Guardian, Jazzwise, Financial Times and London Review of Books. He is trained as a composer, but these days prefers to play improvised music. His acclaimed biography of Dave Brubeck, A Life in Time, was published in 2020, and in November 2021 he was awarded the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award for his next book, Sound and the City.

Lee Mackenzie is an artist and poet from Redditch, Worcestershire, UK, and he works on interdisciplinary projects combining poetry and the visual arts. His poems have been published in the New European, Birmingham Poetry Literary Journal and Coast to Coast to Coast and he is Assistant Editor at Neon Books. Recently, he has been awarded Arts Council funding for research into the practice of 'Poetry Mapping'.

Image: New York City street scene from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress.

This event is organised by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. The Eccles Centre exists to support and promote creative research and lifelong learning about the Americas, through the world-class collections of the British Library.

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Name: Summer Scholars: Sonic NYC and Poetic Mapping
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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