The recordings podcastGlobal friendship, love and artistry across 1852 voice recordings

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I think I was trying to drown out indie folk music and a run-down garage full of people when I told Claire my sudden revelations: She was exactly what I thought Anne of Green Gables had meant when she told her best friend, Diana, that the two of them were kindred spirits. Only moments before they met, Anne had said something like,

“A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do you think it’s possible?”

By this time, I had lived in Denmark, the USA, Hong Kong, the UK and Hungary. The world felt small, dangerous, and fascinating. Yet I had returned to the familiarity of the UK, only to land somewhere exotic. That is to say, I knew no one and barely spoke the dialect. Friends were scarce, few and far between.

To be honest, in the bar, I think Claire was a charming and delicious looking stranger. To be entirely honest, I was drunk and I knew Claire hadn’t grown up with Anne of Avonlea like I had. Nevertheless, there are moment in life where you have to say exactly what you think, even if it is whispered, quiet or unheard.

But, let’s not lose sight of the point: the Lesbian poet and her muse:


Sappho has left us fragments. That is, little records of her thoughts. In translation, she leaves us this:

“But come here, if ever before, when you heard my far-off cry, you listened. And you came, leaving your father’s house, yoking your chariot of gold. Then beautiful swift sparrows led you over the black earth from the sky through the middle air, whirling their wings into a blur.”

Simeon Solomon captures Sappho whispering her deepest secrets and darkest desires into Erinna’s ear.

The moment is intimate. It leaves the spectator wanting, unable to hear and able only to imagine. Images like this brought down devastation on Solomon’s shoulders, isolating him and bereaving him of the community that had encouraged him to explore his homosexuality. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to which he belonged, a group of artists resisting art preferred by the academically educated and accepted artists of the nineteenth century, were appalled by his homosexuality.

Desire plays an important part in the friendship, or rather kindship, I have had with Claire. For me, that desire is a fine mist that surrounds our thoughts, our conversations – ourselves. It lets us speak to each other’s deepest secrets and darkest desires.

Always, I return to that Canadian heroine that raised made me in my formative years. Her narrator tells us:

“All the Beyond was hers with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years – each year a rose of promise to be woven into an immoral chaplet.” -The Narrator, chapter 35


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Josefine Baark is an academic and documentary film maker specialising in early modern globalization, Scandinavian East India Companies and the exchange of technology between Europe and China.

The recordings podcast