Rewilding: Brodgar Poetry/Sound Walk, inspired by the Ring of Brodgar and RSPB Brodgar Nature Reserve (Mainland Orkney), is a new multimedia installation centred on recordings of original poetry by poet Stephanie Green and natural sound recordings (wind, waves, birdsong) by sound artist, Sonja Heyer, plus some percussion and song. You can listen to recordings through your own headphones starting at the iconic Neolithic stonehenge, the Ring of Brodgar, walk into the RSPB Reserve down through a wildflower meadow to Loch Stenness, returning to feel the mystical power of the Ring of Brodgar. You can also listen at home via this website.
Save Endangered Species
The poetry/sound sequence seeks to draw attention to the plight of endangered species of birds and creatures, in particular the curlew, the lapwing and the great yellow bumblebee and to celebrate the success of the RSPB at the Brodgar Nature Reserve since 2021 in creating a rewilded habitat to provide a safe haven. On a thin isthmus of land between two lochs, Harry and Stenness, a mosaic of rare and fragile habitats supports hundreds of species of flora and fauna, many rare or threatened, and some of these are more briefly mentioned in the poems such as the skylark, snipe, redshank, oystercatcher and the hare. The poems are both a celebration of the wonder and beauty of these birds and creatures but also a lament for their continued danger of extinction throughout Europe due to a destruction of their habitat and climate change.
There will also be a wider, more spiritual context (save our souls as well as save the planet) referencing, how could we not, the Ring of Brodgar which is at the centre of the reserve. There will also be a nod to Orkney dialect (also a celebration/lament for an endangered language) by using the Orcadian names for birds in one poem but the poems are otherwise in English accessible to all, including children over the age of 9.
Poems and Sound
The poems in Brodgar have been ‘re-wilded’ in that they are inspired by bird song or bird flight, images like scatter-bursts or chants and spells, rather than traditional poetry forms such as sonnets or rhymed stanza. Some are inspired by more ancient forms such as a Persian ghazal, though a broken one, or the ancient Irish poet, Amergin. Sonja’s site-specific natural sound recordings were made at the Ring of Brodgar and Reserve or other places on Mainland Orkney such as the Sound Wall at the Loons plus birdsong sourced from xeno-canto. There are also snatches of song (‘Ariel’s Song’ composed by Thomas Arne (1710-1778)) to words by Shakespeare in ‘The Tempest’ and Sonja’s own percussion.
Brodgar Poetry/Sound walk is supported by Creative Scotland who financed a week’s residency at the Brodgar site in July 2022 for Stephanie Green to research and develop ideas for poetry and for Sonja Heyer to take natural sound recordings on site. Stewart Bain, Communications & Events Officer, RSPB, the RSPB Orkney ranger, Sarah Money and HES ranger, Sandra Miller provided invaluable advice and we are grateful for their continuing support.
Poet and voice: Stephanie Green
Sound Artist and percussion: Sonja Heyer
Website: James T. Harding
Orcadian voice: Ingrid Leonard
Soprano: Lucy Alsop