Noah Ross Recommends...

“When writing, I like to channel little ecstasies that fill me daily, bits of pleasure and pain I pick up from my immediate environments. But, as Niedecker’s poem ‘Laundromat’ notes, ‘After all, ecstasy / can’t be constant’—what would it be otherwise? To feel stuck, to find oneself in a lapse of intensity, inspiration, or just without the right words, can fuel necessary and powerful reflection, the casual calm before the next spin cycle.

When confronted with a pause, I open myself to sound. I listen, sometimes to absolutely nothing (the world has its own constant hum), or to my friends (a phone call is always grounding), or to music, mostly classical or ambient these days. Listening helps me take stock of where I am, emotionally, physically, psychically. The voice of a friend can ring just like the clarinet in the Saint-Saëns sonata, or the train that passes by my neighborhood each night, or the water pouring out from the showerhead.

Sometimes I wonder how writing could be built purely around collected sound. Sometimes I think of sound collection as its own form of translation. I like both. Attending to sound is a practice, sonic ecstasy the purest reward. Open up. Listen!”
—Noah Ross, author of Active Reception (Nightboat Books, 2021)