Words into Music: The Rising Tides

Monday 7 June 2021

Penni Brown is originally from Stromness but now lives in Edinburgh. Previously a lawyer, she has only recently begun to write. In May she took part in our Words into Music project, a collaboration with Orkney Camerata. She submitted three poems and you can read one of them below, in which she focuses on rising sea levels due to climate change.

Penni Brown writes . . .

In this poem I am thinking, what else can the sea potentially take from us as it rises — land, history and livelihoods as well as lives?

I was inspired by GMB’s phrase ‘a black pentecost’ in his poem, ‘Dead Fires’. I wondered what the greatest threat to the continuity of Orkney life is at the moment and I decided to write about the rising sea level due to climate change.

The ‘marked built stones’ that I have mentioned in the last stanza is referring to the erosion of archaeological sites over time but also is a nod to the line ‘marks on the rocks’ from GMB’s poem, ‘To a Hamnavoe Poet of 2093’.

I wanted to write something that was very NOW in the same way that GMB’s poem ‘Uranium ll’ ties it to a moment in time, that is why I have mentioned the current pandemic in this poem. I was also thinking about the poems that GMB wrote about the sea. He powerfully called the sea a ‘widow maker’; in this poem I am thinking about what else can the sea potentially take from us as it rises, land, history and livelihoods as well as lives?

You can see all the other poems and short prose pieces submitted for the project at Words into Music – Working with Words.

Composers are invited to select a piece of writing from the project page and to write a short piece of music which is in some way inspired by it. For more details of how to take part, go to this page:

Words into Music: Continuity and Change

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