Sound-Rich Poetry in Geraldine Monk, Bill Griffiths and Maggie O’Sullivan


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis



Part one of this thesis introduces my concept of sound-rich poetry which informs and drives both the creative and critical methodology of this research. My definition of poetry as an indissoluble union of speech and writing that foregrounds sound in its materiality and structure is illustrated in three case studies. I analyse ‘Chattox Sings’ from Geraldine Monk’s Interregnum (1994), ‘War W/Windsor Text 1 (4 Voices)’ in War W/ Windsor (2010) by Bill Griffiths and selected sections of murmur: tasks of mourning (2011) by Maggie O’Sullivan. The theoretical background for sound-rich poetry is based in Roman Jakobson’s perspective of language as ‘soundshapes’ and structurally through Derek Attridge’s perspective of non-metrical poetry as carefully arranged regular and free ranging movements of sound, rhythm and meaning. Interest in innovative ways of working concerned with finding new sonic materials and shifting sonic patterns that draw on traditional sound structures is also implicit. I also consider silences, not just technical but social and cultural engagements in Monk, Griffiths and O’Sullivan with figures and experiences, which are not part of the everyday experiences that are encountered directly in mainstream society. In part two I explore the role and function of linguistic sound in my writing. A portfolio of poems enacts a journey, which begins with an exploration of a hybrid speaking subject, an ash tree monologue, moves through charms, which enact self-healing, to arrive at prayers and a lullaby. In ‘A Slice of the Infinite Sonic Weave’ my poetics considers the possibilities of poetry as sonic-sensuous echo, and the sound of a temperament, which binds us to each other. This thesis perceives that reverberating unnoticed silences, as spaces between sound, forms the fabric of a whole soundscape, of a whole universe, of sonic and social possibilities. It also perceives that sound-rich poetry extends my experience of myself, and others; how I think, who I am.
Date of Award30 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorJAMES BYRNE (Director of Studies) & ZAYNEB ALLAK (Supervisor)


  • O’Sullivan.
  • Sound-rich
  • innovative,
  • silences,
  • speech,
  • writing,
  • poetry,
  • poetics,
  • Monk,
  • Griffiths,

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