deep reading

Writer, thinker, reader Nick Keys invited me to participate in the annual Centre for Deep Reading forest retreat for 2018. I developed a ‘Deep Listening’ event for groups of 5 people per session. The group is led to a sheltered place where they sit comfortably together yet separated.

A high-quality audio recorder is set up with 5 sets of over-ear headphones. The participants sit for 20 minutes with the headphones on, simply listening to the amplified presence of the sonic space around them – wind, birds, movement of animals, vehicles in the distance, helicopters overhead, whatever occurs in that period of time…



Nick Keys invited me back for the 2019 Centre for Deep Reading retreat, in the same location near Dungog, NSW. This time there was daily rainfall, so I set up the deep listening station in the main reading room, with the stereo microphone outside, undercover.

The live amplified sound of the ‘outside world’ included rain showers, passing birds, distant traffic and grazing cattle, a nearby whinnying horse, people moving about the two storey house, water in gutters and so on. The five sets of headphones were available for listeners any time and various readers spent up to two hours immersed in both the living soundscape and their books.