Katy Price

Photo © Aleks Kolkowski

Recorded in London on 24th February 2011.

Kippered (Edison) Herring

One layer (in three parts) is loosely based on the Wikipedia entry for Charles Cros, incorporating two verses of his nonsense poem ‘Le Hareng Saur’. The other layer uses words and phrases from Thomas Edison’s holiday diary, put into the form of Cros’s poem.



Are you there?

I know it can work. We must capture the intensity of sound.

Voice now accedes to voices of the past, passé.
Vibrate; a diaphragm – engrave – diaphragm; listen.
I’ll tell you how it works.

Dia–dia–dia F-F-F. Just write it down. I must hurry, there are already
too many connections. Here is the letter – my seal – they will record
my name.


Dearest, can you see the pricks of light? Just there – there. Allow me.

It’s not your fault, my darling the equipment lags behind. Why, if we
could only pay them a visit – how much brighter their cities, more
breathtaking the view –
but we shall, or our children shall.

Yes. That’s what I said.


Il laisse aller le marteau – qui tombe, qui tombe, qui tombe,
Attache au clou la ficelle – longue, longue, longue,
Et, au bout, le hareng saur – sec, sec, sec.

Il redescend de l’echelle – haute, haute, haute,
L’emporte avec le marteau – lourd, lourd, lourd,
Et puis, il s’en va ailleurs, – loin, loin, loin.


Dip into oblivion: sleep, sleep, sleep,
Sunbeams embarrass my eyes: awake, awake awake,
Mental kaleidoscope: deep, deep, deep.

Smoking too much makes me nervous: curl, curl, curl,
Satan’s principal agent: hell, hell, hell,
Dandruff is excreta of the mind, mind, mind.

Perpetual coroners of London: grave, grave, grave,
Rose Hawthorne a big live lobster: bite, bite, bite,
Freckles are mudholes of beauty: skin, skin, skin.

Dinner: ruins of a chicken: rice, rice, rice,
10 acres of raspberries: red, red, red,
Church a heavenly fire escape: hear[t], hear[t], hear[t].

Played a little on the piano keys, keys, keys,
Don’t like Dickens don’t know why: works, works, works,
Speak of realism in painting: dung, dung, dung.

Sardines the principal attraction: ate, ate, ate,
Labyrinth of my stomach: attack, attack, attack,
Stroke of vivid memory: ring, ring, ring.

Katy Price‘s poems have appeared in Seam, Blackbox Manifold, and new collections on ekphrasis and LGBTQ spirituality. She co-designed Blastup! with babel, and has performed text/computer works at the Supercollider Symposium (Berlin, 2010) and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. Her book Loving Faster than Light: Romance and Readers in Einstein’s Universe is published by the University of Chicago Press (2012).

Katy lives in Tottenham, teaches at Anglia Ruskin University and is affiliated to the CoDE research institute.


Recording Notes

The first of two, two-minute cylinders recorded in my studio. Katy overlaid two poems especially written for this archive, by recording one and then superimposing a second groove on a single cylinder. This first cylinder has Cros’ poem as the first layer, the process was reversed for the second version.

The poet and visionary Charles Cros (1842 – 1888) invented a system of reproducible sound recording several months before Thomas Edison designed the tinfoil phonograph. Cros was never to construct his invention but named it the ‘paleophone’ (voix du passé).