Home Birth

A wide band of granular streaming sound 
which contains no sudden onset 
but emerges and is continuous. 
It is dense and continuous 
with occasional movement 
but appears predominantly 
to push. 
A series of staccato gestures 
which begin with a strong attack. 
The terminations are sudden. 
They initially fill the centre band 
of spectral space 
and are iterative in texture. 
An emerging event two thirds of the way through 
has a rising motion which gives way to 
an explosive attacking sound. 
Covers the full frame from root 
(low thudding event) 
to canopy 
(floating bell echoes) 
with the centre being occupied 
by a wide band of white noise. 
Interruptions of bee-like 
animal sounds. 
The falling tone is gradual 
and dissipates 
leaving distant echoes. 
Suspense and 
a sense of anticipation 
of the next ‘clanging’ event. 
A falling gesture 
and simultaneous oscillating 
create tension 
and a leaning-forwards expectation 
of a larger event. 
Distant bells 
create a sense of vast space. 

Listen to Hinemoana Baker read ‘Home Birth


Hinemoana Baker (www.hinemoana.co.nz) is a writer, producer and musician living on Wellington’s Kapiti Coast. Her work’s been published in literary journals at home and abroad, the most recent being the Southwest Minnesota State University’s Yellow Medicine Review. Her first collection of poetry, mātuhi | needle, (Victoria University Press/Perceval Press) was published in 2004 and launched alongside her first full-length album, puāwai. 

This poem was inspired by being ‘one of the Blessed Handmaidens’ at her close friend’s homebirth. Hinemoana was deeply affected by the sounds her friend made during the birth, but was quite certain she could never adequately describe them in words — at least not with her usual poem-writing methods. Fortunately, her partner Christine White did it for her. Christine is studying at the New Zealand School of Music. Hinemoana has lifted the text for this found poem directly from Christine’s answers to an Electronic Music Theory and Analysis Exam. Strange but true.