by Gabrielle Tuloup

View an image of the poet

Four fast syllables, ‘pal-pi-ta-cions’, tumble from Gabrielle Tuloup’s tongue and teeth. The rapidity and force of the consonants’ delivery echo the sensation they describe. Bolstering her evocation of a racing pulse, the poet thumps a clenched fist over her heart, enunciating the pumping muscle with a punching action. Though buried beneath a lattice of bones, cloistered at the body’s asymmetric core, the booming rhythm of the protein cluster reverberates throughout the auditorium.

The first breaths of life, chaotically cried into tiny lungs, are succeeded by softer inhalations, intervals between kisses. Grieving, the channelled character’s phrases are gasped in the fleeting gaps dividing each cardiac impact, sentences choking shorter and sharper. The poem’s metre plays out in spasms, as if wincing from the thwacks of an assailant. Emotional pain is felt corporeally, knotting tightly to a bruised rib,  pulling the crowd further in with each beat.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

Assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhyme pattern a motion amplified over time. With each line, a door slams, a kiss stings, a heart beats, every bang and each boom a considered conceit, here to punctuate poetry, render replete with the rolling of rhythms and purposeful peaks. We hear ‘q’ and ‘c’ clack, the propulsion of ‘p’, with the doors, ‘portes qui claquent’, and the stings, ‘puis ça pique’, and the echoing, juddering thuds that repeat, every bang and each boom has us grasping our seat – and then, calm.

The constant torrent of sound becomes muffled with the cushioned double ‘f’ of ‘ça s’etouffe’. Fists unclench. Blood rushes back to knuckles. We welcome the change of pace. We are offered a mantra to echo, to aid our recovery: ‘je respire’, ‘I breathe’. We draw air deep into our lungs and take time to exhale. Our chest stops pounding and the adrenaline subsides. Relaxed, we are able to reflect upon each phrase, to fully appreciate the fruits of the poet’s labour.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

You can watch a performance of 'Naissances' here, visit Gabrielle Tuloup's official website here, and listen to 'Tes yeux', a song by the poet, here.

Question of the day

In poetry, does sound eclipse meaning?
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It depends on the audience. I think, like music, poetry uses sound to affect how the reader takes in the meaning.

– Frankie Cosmos, musician (via The Brief )

Absolutely. Some poetry can feel beautiful as a sonorous combination of vowels and consonants without attending to the subject matter.

– Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon )

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