From Our Soundbooth | September 01, 2020

“The Bird I Held in my Hand: Claudia, 41” by M.D. Reynolds was chosen as this year’s Miller Audio Prize winner in the Prose category by our 2020 Guest Judge, Alex Sujong Laughlin. We’re thrilled to be able to share with you Reynold’s winning project in its entirety below.

M.D. Reynolds is a writer, filmmaker, and the author of a curious little photobook/public art project called Jetsam. He was born in Washington, DC, educated at NYU and Goldsmith’s College, University of London, and has directed a number of short films that have screened around the world. He spends his spare time gobbling vegan baked goods and supporting Arsenal FC. His home is Los Angeles, CA.

Listen to “The Bird I Held in my Hand: Claudia, 41” by M.D. Reynolds here:

Artist Statement

We all hang onto little totems of past relationships as a kind of symbolic tether to the relationship itself.  Every love letter or photograph or ticket stub secreted away in the back of a drawer rekindles the story of how you came to have it: the day you and X went here, saw this, tasted that, the laughter or tears or raised voices that linger in memory.  They’re a connection to the “who” you were in the wisps of a Capital-Y Yesterday.  But why do we keep them?  What is this “why” that keeps us looking backward?  That keeps us holding onto the past?

Claudia, 41, and the other stories that comprise The Bird I Held in My Hand, are explorations of emotionally resonant, kept objects.  I’m interested in both how their owners acquired them, but also, and more importantly, why they’ve kept them.  The subjects interviewed and the stories they share are of my own invention — they’re scripted and their voices are performed by actors.

To these wider questions, you’ll likely notice I have are no clear answers.  Whether we hold onto the past, believing our memories integral to self and identity, or whether this clinging is part of some unexpressed wish to create a “better yesterday,” I couldn’t tell you.