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Martin Heslop

Martin Heslop

Doctoral Student in Creative Writing and Music.



Professor Jacob Polley and Dr Bennett Hogg

Research project

Transcribing Environmental Sound: The Acoustics of Post-industrial Space

I am writing a collection of audio-poetic works composed using field recordings of former industrial spaces and recorded voice. The research explores an experimental three-stage creative process of listening, transcription and performance. Focusing on poets who explore environmental sound in their composition, writing and performance processes, my accompanying critical thesis investigates poetic responses to and representations of de-industrialised auditory environments.

Using a process of on-site listening and recording as a source of inspiration for the creative writing, I’m focussing on links between properties of sound and poetic text, particularly the temporal nature of sound and the implications of this for writing in post-industrial, liminal landscapes – and crucially, how a creative exploration can draw these out. I’m looking at ways to realise the work in a fluid combination of text, spoken voice and soundscape/composition, exploring how I can use the interruption of sound (and voice) into written text to fragment, disrupt and also guide narrative.

I’m very interested in the general question of how I define my creative work as research, and consequently, am developing work that attempts to close the gap between the ‘critical’ and ‘creative’ strands of my work.

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Research interests

  • contemporary poetry
  • fragmentary narratives
  • prose poetry
  • liminal/interstitial space
  • acoustic ecology
  • field recording/soundscape composition
  • multidisciplinary and collaborative work

Research activities


  • Alternating Currents: poetry/music/film work for AHRC-funded ‘Poettrio Experiment’ at Newcastle University (premiered at Newcastle Poetry Festival, May 2018).
  • The Lighthouse Invites the Storm: text and music live performance, commissioned by Bluecoat Arts Centre, Arts Council England, and LJMU (first performed at Bluecoat, Liverpool in June 2017, subsequently released on record)
  • Horny Handed Tons of Soil: multi-disciplinary theatrical workcommissioned by Unity Theatre, Liverpool and Arts Council England (national tour from Jan 2017, excerpt performed live on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, Mar 8th 2017)
  • Narvik, composer for Lizzie Nunnery’s play (Liverpool Playhouse then national tour 2015-2017, Norwegian tour 2019 and ongoing)
  • Tiergarten: site specific voice and audio work for Edge Hill Train Station, Liverpool, June 2016.
  • Bright Phoenix: lyricist, composer, and sound designer for Jeff Young’s play, Liverpool Everyman, Sept – Oct 2014.
  • Spider-Web City: soundtrack for short film, premiered at Uncharted Festival, Albania, August 2014


  • awarded a two week artist residency at the Elizabeth Bishop house in Great Village, Nova Scotia, Canada, September 2019 (with poet Helen Tookey).
  • artist in residence at Metal, Edge Hill train station, Liverpool, 2015.

Placements and funding

An evolving long-term collaboration with poet Helen Tookey funded in part by Liverpool John Moores University, work has been featured on radio stations Radiophrenia, Resonance FM, and at Helicotrema festival in Venice, ongoing.


Paper presentation: ‘Squall – A Collaborative Process’ (with poet Helen Tookey) at Poetry and Sound in Expanded Translation conference, Bangor University, April 2018.

Academic background

  • MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University (Distinction)
  • BSc (Hons) in Physics with Astrophysics at University of Manchester (2:1)