Monstrous Math, 2023

From June-July 2023, I. Nakhla worked in collaboration with academics and researchers in rare books and poetics at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of English) on a project bringing the sound-world of Edmund Spenser’s sixteenth-century epic poem, The Faerie Queene, to a new audience and public.


Nakhla was commissioned by AHRC-funded researcher in English poetics Dr. Bethany Dubow to build the buzzing, disorienting rhymescape of The Faerie Queene. Their commission forms the experimental, as well as engagement-oriented, arm of a project that seeks to show how the ‘physics of syntax’ (including rhythm, sound and lineation) sculpts the ‘physics of space’ in poem-worlds. Nakhla’s research for the project began in the Rare Books Collections of the University Library, University of Cambridge, where they collected field recordings of, and readerly responses to, sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century editions of the text. Nakhla then moved through the historical streets and ecological spaces that Spenser had inhabited, recording sounds and textures that may be the present-day remnants (or descendants) of a sound-world the poet had inhabited. Nakhla’s final audio work is accessible online as well as streamed in university research seminars and undergraduate lectures.