Monday, 16 February 2015

No Point but Fun

When I became freelance again my biggest fear was the isolation. So I asked a bunch of local artists if they fancied getting together to muck about in each other's disciplines, chat, share ideas and practices etc etc. I had no aim beyond the broach scope of everyone being involved in a different artform, having some fun, and getting to know these people and how they approached their work.

Between us we are a writer, musician, visual artist, textile artist and a maker. We also have a dancer in the wings but she's been unable, so far to make our days... fingers crossed she'll join us at some point. We try to meet once a month.

The first day we spent out at mine, walking and talking and writing then cutting up what we had written to make concertinas and see what happened to our linear thoughts. We talked a lot about the weight of words, their meaning, how to disrupt our fears and open up new avenues of thought, confidence and approaches to language. People generally found the cutting up process very liberating. It relinquished their ownership of the writing, it presented new ways of expression and it lessened the pressure to ‘make good work’.

A bonus: a week or so after the day a poem popped out of me and then it fell into a long concertina. I love it how it is very different from anything I would normally write.

Last week was our second day together and this one was hosted by the maker. She just happened to have a room that was about to be replastered so had covered it in brown parcel paper for us to use as a boxed canvas. Everyone was asked to bring their usual materials, including instruments from the musician. As she wanted to explore the overlay between sound and visuals...


And so we dived in and scribbled and splattered and smudged and sang and hit cymbals and laughed and had absolutely no idea what we were doing beyond covering the brown parcel paper with ink and paint and more paper. And that is the joy of these days. We don't have a plan. We are reminded of what we love about our practice, the play and experimentation that too easily gets shunted out of our precious creative time.

We talked about fear and shame of mark making and how we counter that, we talked of detail and meaning, of purpose and points, and made everything up as we went along so we ended up with a sheet of paper with bits set on. Even this (below) went through several edits as we discussed our decision making - movement, aesthetic, space, repetition, symbolism, until we arrived with something we could all look at and find pleasing. And this is what we decided we would use as the narrative to generate a new piece of work - for me a poem, for another a book, for another a piece of music, and ... well, I'll find out what else.
Working, and perhaps more pertinently playing, with artists from other disciplines is so rewarding. It's not just about what can be made together, it helps me articulate more clearly my own practice, makes me more aware of how I work. It extends my language.  



Monday, 9 February 2015

Becoming Flesh




Last week I went to Send and Receive, a day exploring how poetry, film and technology related to each other. It was one of those conferences where there were too many speakers saying too much, and the designated discussion times were shunted back to the end of the day. However what I like about that kind of backlog is the space it gives me to think stuff, being semi stimulated by what is being said and kept within my own silent bubble. I engage with the speaker, floating off into a creative space that I couldn't manifest alone.

It was while listening to Deryn Rees-Jones talk through her thoughts and questions around poetry and film that I had the most fertile concurrent thoughts. I loved her suggestion that a poetryfilm, or filmpoem poemfilm as she called them, was a poem becoming flesh. This chimed instantly with how I see my poetry pamphlets

They are not there to provide a literal 'translation' or interpretation of a poem, rather to offer a alternative/ possibly larger space for the reader (in the case of my pamphlets) to enter into and engage with the poems. Rather than a vessel, as I've called them before, to describe them as 'becoming flesh' gives them a stronger form, a more marked definition of a new creator, rather than simply being a receptacle to hold existing life. 

This form that grows around the poem has the poem (or poems) as its soul, its life force, its reason for being. It also echoes the 'becoming' that is the live nature of a poem. It attempts to hold but not restrain the poem's moment, suggesting the poem's intention to keep growing, layers or meanings. Words, slippery, evolutionary, unfixable things, become us and other at the same time.

I spent another talk - on semiotics - sketching out possible ideas for new pamphlet structures. Again what was being said fed into my scribbles and doodles. Possibly not what the organisers had in mind for the delegates, but influential and stimulating in an alternative way, for which I am grateful. Another pamphlet is creeping into view.
  
The stills are from Eduardo Katz's Reversed Mirror, from the PoetryFilm archive