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Zoe Comyns Keywords Image Name: Zoe Comyns Keywords

Episode 7: Patterns

This week presenter Zoë Comyns is guided by the Keyword ‘Patterns’.

Contributors to the episode have drawn inspiration from patterns of human and bird behaviour, the patterns we ink on to our skin and the patterns which can make a daily routine.

Writer and musician Julian Gough is trying to record a podcast with Solana Joy. They are married and like many professionals are working from their home. The regular interruptions from their cat and their small child form a humorous pattern which becomes the short feature recorded for Keywords.

When writer and artist Sara Baume visited Cape Clear Island in West Cork she learned about vagrant birds which land on the island every year. These are birds which are rerouted accidentally from their migration lines and they inspired Sara to make a series of cross-stitchings representing each species of bird.

Writer Siobhán Mannion looks at how the lifelong pattern of gift-giving – ‘handknitted wools, and your vast array of patterned scarves’ – can establish deep family bonds. These are maintained, via memory and the objects themselves, after the loss of a loved one. Her short essay features music composed by Cian Roche. 

Elaine Howley is a sound artist and in her composition we hear a musical treatment of how – possibly obsessive – thoughts about another person can flow and ebb in sonic waves. ‘I am falling into a thought about you again. I am a thought. I am you again. I am a thought about a thought… ‘ 

The pattern of destructive behaviour is the subject of poet Kimberly Reyes’ piece ‘On Touch’. It is set in Cork where Kimberly – a New York resident – was spending time as a Fulbright scholar. She compares the patterns of yearning for love to an addiction: ‘my Black femaleness in mostly-white surroundings meant that I was romantically under socialized and just plain dumb in dating, always searching for a hit of the touch drug.’

Diarmuid Hester is an Irish writer and an academic based in the UK. He tells a story about how the detailed patterns of tattoos on his body became interwoven with an unlikely friendship with the tattoo artist – a friendship ‘laid down in blood and ink’.

Keywords is presented and produced by Zoë Comyns with production by Regan Hutchins and New Normal Culture. The series is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound and Vision Fund.

Series overview:

Keywords is a creative hybrid that invited writers, radio producers, sound artists and musicians to record a conversation, an observation, talk about an experience or a moment, write a poem, essay or story. They could simply record sounds, leave a voice message or compose a piece of music, read a diary entry or a letter, or create a short audio feature.

Writers and producers such as Eimear McBride, Donal Ryan, Danielle McLaughlin, Sarah Davis Goff, Sinéad Gleeson, Sara Baume, Julian Gough, Roisin O’Donnell, Nuala O’Connor, Cristín Leach, ER Murray, Elizabeth Reeder, Tadhg O’Sullivan, Regan Hutchins, Judy-Meg Ní Chinnéide, Siobhan Mannion, Diarmuid Hester, Amanda Bell, Emily S Cooper, Radhika Iyer, Neil Hegarty, Victoria Kennefick, Dee Roycroft, Jody O’Neill and more.

Zoe Comyns expertly weaves narration and sound around each submission bringing each piece together as a whole. Many people chose to reflect on the confinement of Lockdown, others took a broader approach to the theme. Each is a lyrical and sound rich exploration and marks a new departure for Irish radio creating an accessible audio platform, a shared space to express that imagination, fleeting thoughts, deep seated beliefs and new ways of looking.

At times some of the pieces have a DIY feel, others more professionally crafted – this gives an authentic sound and tone to each episode and each piece a thoughtful and transportive reflection. This is a new type of radio, sound rich, open to all to get involved and a time capsule of what people have been thinking about over the past few months in story and sound.