Amanda's Circus

Volare in Synaesthesia Magazine


Hurray! My story ‘Volare‘, about Venice, is now live at the wonderful and very beautiful Synaesthesia Magazine, in their ‘Cities’ issue. It is the most visually stunning literary magazine I have seen. The photographs and art are devastatingly good, a real feast of images and there is an interview with synaesthete and writer, Rachael Spellman, an interview with Comma’s Jim Hinks about the city stories Gimbal app, masses of poetry, articles and stories about cities – Hanoi, London, Amsterdam, Southampton, even music. I’ll write more here as I read. But I adore the photographs and art.

I do love cities and try, whenever I can, to visit cities abroad – Istanbul, Rome, Ghent, Amsterdam, Marrakech, Paris, St Petersburg, and most recently, Venice. I’ve been to Venice four times. This particular trip to the 2013 Biennale inspired the story.  ‘Volare’  (to fly), is a song recorded by Italian singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno. It was released as a single in 1958 and is currently being sung all over Venice by the gondoliers. I’ve read that the Venetian authorities have complained about the repertoire of the gondoliers and want them to sing more traditional songs. I imagine they’ll have a tough job regulating that one. In fact the lyrics to ‘Volare’ are strangely surreal which was a happy accident that suited my purposes and I couldn’t resist quoting some of it in the story.


I’m really pleased with this story. It was a tricky job mainly because of the synaesthetic element. Basically, synaesthesia is a jumbling up of the senses. That’s probably not how the dictionary describes it but it is how I see it and how I tried to use synaesthesia when writing this story. I do see smells, tastes and especially sounds as colours, but wouldn’t call myself a real synaesthete.  And anyway, writing a story with synaesthetic elements was much more complex than that because obviously one needs to very specific when using an image, and a colour doesn’t really hack it. I was literally dizzy with images when working on ‘Volare’. I really didn’t know whether I was coming or going at times or whether I’d hitched the right sense to the image. And also, because Venice is such a rich feast of architecture, water and slices of sky,  a richness to the language and imagery was pretty much inevitable. I tried my best to show Venice how I see and feel about it.

I’m so glad the fabulous  and talented Synaesthesia editors felt the story was worth including. You can read it here. ‘Volare’ and raise your face into the glorious visual waterfall that is the Synaesthesia Magazine.

If you’d like to read about my trip to Venice this summer, take a look at my blogpost: Optimism and Creativity: the Venice Biennale

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About writing, trickery and a little music