Text on a diary page saying "hear me, hear my silence", an IST poetry special, 20th to the 25th February





Welcome to the IS&T Poetry Special “Hear Me, Hear My Silence” which runs from the 20th- 25th February. 

For five days, we will be publishing poems that pay attention to the art of listening. “To pay attention” Mary Oliver says, “this is our endless and proper work.” Listening is playful and mutable. It is also hard, transformative work. This poetry special is a chance to ask, what do you hear in the silence? How do you listen?

Are you inspired by words that were left unsaid? Tillie Olsen describes unnatural silence: “the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being, but cannot.” The tension of silence–its struggle, and its strength–makes it an alive and electric site for poetry. 

Tune in to hear from poems from the archive, read new submissions of poetry, Word & Image and Filmpoems.

Thank you for listening closely with us.

Read Our Poetry Special Poems


Resources & Inspiration
As part of our poetry special, our Facebook and Instagram stories were full of inspiring works from artists and writers. Here are the links in case you wish to revisit them.


  • Cathy Park Hong: Why Words Fail
    • Cathy Park Hong considers the difficulty of speaking in one’s own voice.
  • Maggie O’Sullivan: Unofficial Word via Eclipse Archive
    • Explore the ouvere of sonic poet Maggie O’Sullivan. Her eclectic word choice is stirring and evocative, and it becomes inspiring to imagine, then locate her soundscapes. Read it aloud, and revel in the pauses; feel the breakdown of language into units of sound.
  • Veronica Forrest-Thompson: Ducks and Rabbits
    • Perhaps you have seen the image: the creature that, with a shift of focus, can pass for a duck or a rabbit. VFT punctuates with citation. Her addendums shift the perception of her poem from image, to philosophy. How could we hear something twice, what might make us rethink it?
  • Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons
    • Described as Stein’s experiments in Cubism, Tender Buttons is notoriously intimidating. True, it offers a subversive and strange glance at the domestic interior. But after all, listening at its best is often difficult and surprising:
      Water astonishing and difficult altogether makes a meadow and a stroke.
  • Lila Matsumoto & Adam Butcher: Strawflower
    • A spellbinding film/poem that picks up ambient noise, city noise, and speaks through it.
  • Eavan Boland, Domestic Violence 
    • “How young we were, how ignorant, how ready/ to think the only history was our own.”
  • Finally, to close the festival we have a series of writing exercises designed to play with listening. Find this on our instagram, or click the download link below.