Podcast Series - Walking With Water

Episode 7: Dysfluent Waters

Jjjjjerome Ellis

The sound piece "Dysfluent Waters" is part of the 12-track album "Clearing" by the Afro-Caribbean composer, producer, writer and stutter Jerome Ellis. The multi-instrumentalist artist blends spoken word and storytelling with ambient jazz and experimental electronic compositions to create meditative soundscapes. Through this lyrical introspection, he establishes a new metaphor for how speech dysfluency can articulate a space for possibility and a new way of existing in society.

Calling the intervals of silence in his speech "clearings", he uses them to distort or deconstruct the ordinary linearity of time as the white-dominated world defines it. Therefore, "Clearing" becomes a significant symbolic term for him in realizing that stuttering isn't a disability but an opening to different perceptions of time beyond normative structures.

In his writing, Ellis reflects on stuttering, which evolves as a medium of perceiving and listening to time, its stillness and slowness, a moment of being fully present. Furthermore, combining it with music allows him to explore its potential to heal and be perceptive to new relations and timelessness.

Another bottomless component of inspiration for Ellis is water. When he composes or plays music, his mind is flooded with images of rain, river, sea or snow. He also refers to Toni Morrison and her quote: "'Floods' is the word they use, but in fact, it is not flooding. It is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was".

During the Walking with Water Public moment, we tried to follow these waters of remembering. Like all rivers whose variations of currents, never running quite the same way but always ending in the same place, we drifted through Ellis riffs. We drew unbreakable connections to his idea that stuttering through its rhythm suspension is a node of possibility for deeper listening.

Participant Collaborators