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Richard Skinner

White Noise Machine

White Noise Machine


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Where Richard Skinner’s previous pamphlets, Invisible Sun and Dream into Play, were primarily concerned with the play of light and playfulness respectively, White Noise Machine is mainly concerned with sound. A white noise machine is a device that produces a noise that calms the listener, which in many cases sounds like a rushing waterfall or wind blowing through trees, and other serene or nature-like sounds and Skinner has used this idea to try to create this effect in many of the poems.

Praise for this Book

‘Imbued with the spirits of Peter Gabriel, Agnes Martin and MacNeice, amongst others, these are poems of formal skill, playfully pressing up against formal and aleatory constraints and re-making themselves anew. White Noise Machine is striking, profound and fresh as the cherry tree that “explodes in white noise every spring”.’ —Sarah Westcott

‘There’s a tremendous kinetic energy in these poems, evidenced in the wide variety of linguistic stratagems he deploys to express the wonder and joy of things. These range from bright-eyed vocalic transpositions to wholesale melding of poems by different authors. It’s all part of the pleasure afforded by this truly remarkable collection.’ —Peter Didsbury

‘Richard Skinner’s White Noise Machine is a glorious mix tape of a collection, bold and brilliant in its mash-ups of pop songs and poets as various as Muldoon and Yeats. But what is playful is also meaningful: Skinner is concerned with capturing these fragments of our language and culture, our natural landscape – in other words, the things we risk losing – and giving them back to us beautifully reformed.’ —Tamar Yoseloff

Praise for Previous Work

‘Tentatively, delicately and poignantly fills in the person behind the myth.’ —Observer

‘An original and absorbing version of a cryptic life.’ —Sunday Telegraph

‘Two substantial novellas – novels by any other name – make up this volume. A pair of texts is an unusual combination and seems to require them to reflect each other in some way, to be thematically connected. If there is a connection, it’s not obvious, but the two beautifully written stories are no less enjoyable for that. In the first, The Mirror, set in the early 16th century, a young woman, Oliva, prepares to become a nun. She has already lived in the convent in Venice for four years and is about to take the veil. While the arrival of an artist for whom Oliva is asked to sit ostensibly provides the focal event, the immersive evocation of the small community of nuns and their battle with the city authorities is captivating. In the second, The Velvet Gentleman, the eponymous gentleman is the composer Erik Satie, who narrates his own story from the afterlife. Changing personas with the elan of a proto David Bowie, Satie was an early surrealist, an impish eccentric, clinging to his childishness as the source of his capacity for wonder. A faithful and deeply affectionate portrait.’ —The Guardian

‘A gorgeous collection of reviews and essays about music, writing and film, from a Bookie regular. Each chapter is the perfect length for a coffee and a think.’ —Margate Bookie

‘There is a lovely care for the sounds of language here.’ —George Szirtes

‘Sometimes there’s nothing apparently poetic about a poem, but it just is. Poetry, I mean. For example, “My grandmother’s things”... “Death in a French Garden” is another piece that centres on things, and it’s done with loving precision, held together by that gorgeous title ... I don’t want to give the impression that Richard Skinner just creates lists. He does far more than that. Even the lists are not just lists. And occasionally – at his best, as they say – he can make the move from precise thing-ness into a totally abstract line, and it’s magnificent.’ —Nell Nelson

‘In Richard Skinner’s supple and elegant poems, the known and unknown rise and fall like fish in a deep pool, leaving hairline cracks and moonsick hearts. A beautiful collection, full of mysterious clarity.’ —Catherine Ayres

‘It’s the collection’s ongoing tussle with faith and interest in the numinous, or rather the desire to let the mind soar while also keeping one foot on the ground that wins over the reader.’ —Richie McCaffery, The High Window

‘This is a rich, varied and well-constructed collection based on Richard Skinner’s themes of time, memory and the relationship of material to spiritual life. The enigmatic nature of many of the poems is a function of his thesis and they are the more rewarding for that.’ —Janice Dempsey, WriteOutLoud

‘Deeply moving and formally perfect - and about the things that matter.’ —Bernard O'Donoghue

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