Inspired by the return of birdsong as a consequence of lockdown, Lighthouse writer-in-residence Jack Thacker has recorded a reading of his poem, The Night Office.

The piece represents what happens when the nightingale’s song is slowed down to suit the iconic bird’s metabolism.

“This is time, if you like, as experienced by the nightingale,” says Jack in his introduction.

“If the lockdown has taught me anything it is that under the right circumstances, slowing down can be an opening up – I think it certainly improves our ability to listen.”

Since September, Jack has been involving himself in all aspects of life at Lighthouse and responding to what he has heard and seen, publishing his work through the writer development agency Artfulscribe as part of the DO: Write literature development project in Dorset, supported by Arts Council England. 

That all changed of course with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of all cultural spaces.

“I’m now the writer-in-absence at Lighthouse,” he notes. “Like many others I’m working from home at the moment and while that has brought many challenges and certainly changed the nature of my work it has reminded me of the presence of birds and birdsong in our lives.

“In the spirit of that small upside to the lockdown I’ve recorded a poem about that master of birdsong, the nightingale, the bird that sings in the middle of the night and the namesake of the new hospitals that sprang up around the country.”

Jack’s poems have also appeared in numerous online and print magazines including PN Review, Stand and The Clearing, as well as on BBC Radio 4. He recently completed a PhD on contemporary poetry at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter and now teaches English at Bristol. 

See Jack reading 'The Night Office' on our YouTube channel, here.

Published 26 May 2020