'How do we translate the algorithms of the heart?' In a fractious and fragmented time, how can we find a harmonic on the Earth together? Five women, writing as the poetry collective EcoBody, explore the threads of connection with other ways of being in the Sussex waterlands. With art by Victoria Threfall and music by Alex MacInnis.
is a collective of poets who write about the nature of places, exploring what is present (and past and near-future), creating poetry in response. Individually, they are known as Jemma Borg, Kim Lasky, Karen Smith, Kay Syrad and Clare Whistler, while collectively they take on a more amoeba-like form. By nature of a place, they mean its soil, plants, insects, animals, water-courses and energy as well as its heritage and people.

EcoBody is a poetry collective collaboratively investigating our responses to chosen themes. We are poets, dancers, wild swimmers, mothers and grandmothers. We write in landscapes: in a wild garden behind a forge, beside streams and rivers, walking the waterlogged ground of the ancient Pevensey Levels on the Sussex coast. Our first project was Wetland EcoBody, six poems derived from time spent together on the Levels.

‘Accord’ was a way to think differently about ecosystems coming together, human and non-human. Instead of compromise, we thought about finding accord, each approaching the concept through our own frame. For Clare Whistler, this was music and birds. For Kim Lasky, it was the islanders of Kiribati. For Kay Syrad it was her relationship with a dog. Jemma Borg was reminded of her experience as a geneticist working with DNA. Karen Smith looked to the smallest life forms, bacteria and yeast.  

The result is a poem/sound-piece that in one of its forms is spoken to the playing of a simple chord by composer Alex MacInnis. The poem is a meld of what it means to seek and find accord as we move through life in touch with others – other organisms, other ways of knowing and being, each and every form of life – minuscule and vital.


Proto-Indo-European root kerd, meaning heart.  

is a cord and a thread  
is weave  
meet parties 
is heart
flex and fit in pursuit  

swoop breath  
body in accord  

is agree  
is harmony  
is rhythm  

is meld and touch  
tongue and groove  

to plane  
to smooth taking full account  taking into account  

chord between us  
chord together  

sound chime  

you shine your light onto each other  
choir of your own conducting  

what, in the library of beings, speaks loudest of accord?  

according to yeast  
there is a wordless message  
a barely-detectable pitch  
note struck of a thousand breaths  
come here, lover, come here  
can you hear it yet?  

a cordial heart  
stops being apart  

dog knows 
we walk he is close we walk we are close 
fur-body soft-trots streaks bounds leaps  wait
streaks bounds flops panting  pure-wet mouth
tongue speaks in lengths  

see a bird three  
rattle of ice  
turn to water drip tree  

In the laboratory, bodies  
pressed into jars, leaking a not-faint  smell of formaldehyde  
are like poems
because they are form— form is the nature  of

accord, each being in accord with its place,
body to earth

hawthorn leaning with the wind  
currenting together  

how do we translate  
the algorithms of the heart?  

accord is heart to heart  

is will to act  
is pact  
is core  
is courage affirming  agreeing  
is meet  

EcoBody: Jemma Borg, Kim Lasky, Karen Smith, Kay Syrad, Clare Whistler

This is an extract. You can listen to the whole sound-poem below.


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