claire peckham 


Whispering Gallery
2015

Whispering gallery: a space whose structure amplifies sound through reflection so that even a whisper can become audible long after direct sound would usually be mute.

This piece takes the whispering gallery as its central metaphor to explore and illuminate ‘hidden’ aspects of language: words associated with secrecy and the etymological and semantic connections between them.

Whisper: voice without use of the vocal cords. Speech without voice, almost always employed in the spirit of secrecy.

Reflection: to cast back (light, sound) from a surface.

Secret: kept unseen, and unknown by others. ‘Secret’ stems from Latin ‘sēcrētus,’ meaning ‘hidden.’

Erasure: the act of removing, obliterating information from the page, or mind.

The desire to withhold information is the common thread tying these words together (even reflection, which is the appearance of something whose source exists elsewhere). I used the text from dictionary entries defining ‘whisper,’ ‘reflection,’ ‘secret,’ and ‘erasure,’ to create a poem. By weaving together their definitions I aimed to create a poem that did not define a single word, but the common thread of secrecy that ties them together. I chose to create the poem using a technique called erasure: a process in which pieces of found text are erased to create new work. I chose erasure as the vehicle of communication because it embodies this common thread. Erasure, like whisper, involves a lack of voice (the writer “speaks through” the words of another), it is often used in secrecy, and, like reflection, the image being presented is only a ghost of its original self.

(All definitions in this statement are paraphrased from the Oxford English Dictionary.)