Recording with Chris @ My Sweet Mule studio

The Night's Insomnia

The Night’s Insomnia is a new project for Jen which combines music and poetry in an album of 12 new songs, selected from published contemporary Australian poetry from emerging and established writers. It is a collaborative work which together with several local musicians brings these poems to a wider audience through music and song. The songs have been recorded and produced by Chris Parkinson (The Yearlings) at his studio ‘My Sweet Mule.’

The project emerged through Jen’s playful experimentation around the idea that poetry and music can work together to resonate and evoke something different in people. When some of the most finely crafted Australian poems are interpreted sensitively in song along with wonderful musicianship, all kinds of possibilities and interpretations emerged.
Jen has read widely in order to form a collection which reflects a range of perspectives, cultural backgrounds, gender, and poetic styles from across Australia. Each poem has it’s own structure and there are no rhyming poems in the collection, which challenges the musical process to work in a different way.

“Once a poem is found, I find it so thrilling to open it up like a gift and find the melody and the rhythm, to let the new limitations drive me into new decisions I would never have taken before.”

The songs are composed in styles which range from folk, pop, alt country and rock, written around the poems with the intention that the poem speak clearly and with an interpretation that resonates with each poet. Collaboration with each poet is an important part of the process where each poet has the opportunity to reflect and feedback on the direction of the song.

There is a rich variety of subject matter within the collection with a strong focus on subjects such as the complexities of self and relationships, the current fraught, perplexing and increasingly political subject of people seeking asylum in this country, and a view of our identity as Australians and what has occurred in our history around the brutal realities of Aboriginal experience and dispossession which continues today.? These subjects are in sharp focus in our current political climate and poetry and music have so much potential to communicate these ideas to a wider audience and those who may not usually choose to read poetry.

The Poets included in this song collection:

Steve Brock – Double Glaze
Ali Cobby Eckermann – Wild Flowers
Nathan Curnow – Lament #31
Jill Jones – A Louder Silence
Kevin Brophy – The Night’s Insomnia
Cate Kennedy – Quiet
David Brooks – Twelfth Night
Kathryn Hummel – Villanelle: Don’t kill yourself but the hours instead
Juan Garrido Salgado – Please Let Him Be a Bird in This Land
Esther Ottaway – Blazer
Ouyang Yu – There are no people for me
Renee Pettitt-Schipp – Shoot