Total Man

Total Man by Hannah Silva on shortlist for prestigious Ted Hughes Award

Total Man was commissioned for Electronic Voice Phenomena : an experimental literature, performance and music show that feeds on the corpse of paranormal pseudo-science.


We are proud to announce that Hannah Silva’s Total Man, commissioned for Electronic Voice Phenomena by Penned in the Margins and Mercy, has been shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work In Poetry. Silva’s innovative performance piece drives language down the lost highway of a struggle to understand the origins of humankind.

In 1972 Stan Gooch published The Total Man, notes towards an evolutionary theory of personality. This extensive volume spans magic, religion, politics, art, morality and justice. As well as his preoccupation with Neanderthal man and left-handedness, Gooch posits that Labour MPs have larger ears than Conservatives, and better night vision. In Silva’s extraordinary and intense work, performed eight times on the EVP tour (in total blackout), she channels Gooch’s words through a musical layering of speech, sound, automatic writing, quotations and virtuosic vocal play.

Hannah Silva joins a shortlist of five poets that includes another Penned in the Margins author, Chris McCabe, for his collaborative work Pharmapoetica. The winner of the Ted Hughes Award, which was won last year by spoken word artist Kate Tempest, will be announced at a ceremony at the Savile Club, London on Friday 28 March.


From the judges – Denise Riley:

“Hannah Silva’s entrancing sound creations are designed to spring to life in her performances. Her work is often startling yet delicate. ‘Total Man’, part of the Electronic Voice Phenomena events, shows Hannah’s capacity to work easily with thoughts about sound through sound itself, as she generates her new music with its fresh echoes.”


Total Man video

Electronic Voice Phenomena documentary


Hannah Silva is a poet, playwright and theatre maker whose work is characterised by its playful interrogation of language, voice and form. She has performed at the Tokyo Design Centre, Krikri International Festival of Polyphony in Belgium, Poetry Hearings in Berlin and throughout the UK at festivals including Latitude, the London Word Festival and StAnza. She won the Tinniswood award at the recent BBC Audio Drama Awards for her play ‘Marathon Tales’ (co-written with Colin Teevan for Radio 3). She is an associate artist with Penned in the Margins, who released her debut poetry collection Forms of Protest in 2013. She is currently in the early stages of developing Schlock! – a new show in association with Penned in the Margins.

Electronic Voice Phenomena is a platform for new work in performance and experimental writing produced by Penned in the Margins and Mercy. The project takes its inspiration from Konstantin Raudive’s notorious ‘Breakthrough’ experiments of the 1970s, where he captured voices-from-beyond in electronic noise. In 2013 EVP toured the UK with an ‘avant-garde’ cabaret of works by Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland, Outfit, SJ Fowler and others. EVP was supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Penned in the Margins creates publications and performances for people who are not afraid to take risks. Based in London’s East End, they operate across the arts, collaborating with writers, artists and creative partners using new platforms and technologies.

Mercy produces cutting-edge literature, arts and music spectacles, curate exhibitions, produce films and publish words and pictures in print and online.

The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry seeks to recognise excellence in poetry, highlighting outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life. The £5,000 prize is donated by Carol Ann Duffy, funded from the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from HM The Queen. In 2013, for the fifth year, members of the Poetry Society and Poetry Book Society were invited to recommend a living UK poet, working in any form, who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry.



One response to “Total Man

  1. Pingback: 5 poets that use technology | hightechpoesy

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