Friday, 12 March 2021

StampHaikuSong

Postage stamps and the images contained on them are ingrained in our daily consciousness. The Irish poet Gabriel Rosenstock has written a sequence of seventeen bilingual (Irish and English) haiku inspired by a sequence of Irish postage stamps which show Irish personalities such as James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, James Connolly, Countess Markievicz, Roger Casement and others. The singer Caitríona O'Leary and graphic designer Gareth Jones have produced a magical video which combines Rosenstock's text with images of the stamps and O'Leary's imaginative setting of the Irish text (sung by herself, multi-tracked).

The project is a product of our times, funded by an Irish Arts Council Covid-19 Response Award, and perhaps we can see a an artistic response to the pandemic in a concentration on small things, but the seven-minute work is a reminder that we should concentrate on the detail as well as the big picture.

Rosenstock describes the project as follows, "Postage stamps have been part of every nation's history and cultural expression and Ireland's stamps are truly distinctive. These haiku in Irish and English deftly perform the haikuist's task - opening our eyes to what has been there all along. The combination of the minimalist form which is haiku, and the smallness of a postage stamp concentrates the mind wonderfully. This unique project is something to sing about especially as our digital age - and the unstoppable rise of the courier and drone - has threatened to obliterate the humble postage stamp!".

Caitríona O'Leary is best known for her performances of traditional Irish song [including The Wexford Carols, see my review and The Red Book of Ossory, see my review] and Early Music, as well as her role in contemporary works such as Roger Doyle's electronic opera Heresy [see my review]

StampHaikuSong is available from Bandcamp.

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