- A Writing Process Blog Tour.
Laura Burns, with whom I met and worked with recently as part of the movement & writing dialogue at Le Triangle, wrote her reflections in the previous tour post, which can be read here - thank you to her for the invitation.
The next set of responses will come from the blogs of poets Francesca Lisette and SJFowler and Marcus Slease. To follow, get to their blogs for the post next monday 21st April.
What am I working on?
I am currently working on a longer poem which I am making into a sort of alternative chapbook. I have been interested recently in how to share intimacy or open up and express an experientiality in a way that is neither reductive nor exploitative but that could be expansive across a channel of communication.
For this work, the pages of the chapbook are made from the text itself blended down into fragments of letters, words and phrases that constitute the structure of the material page. I work with my own handmade paper which allows me the flexibility to explore alternative ways that text can interact with a surface. I wanted the chapbook to be ‘of’ the poem without necessarily having to display it overtly in legible print. It is my aim to have these chapbooks available at performance events where I would read the piece in its entirety - the chapbook-object taking on a certain life or significance only in relation to the intimacy of my physical presence.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m immediately drawn to the impossibilities of making such distinctions, how the word ‘differ’ loads and unloads itself onto my typing hands. There is a particularity to my writing and a mundane tedium, especially perhaps in my inabilities to move beyond certain combinations or repetitions of words into what could be a richer, larger vocabulary. I like the little words, prepositions pronouns and connectors, and my writing is full of them, ‘as’ ‘’of’ ‘in ‘for’ ‘and’ ‘to’. My textual-textile work is perhaps more obviously distinct, though firmly grounded in the work of others, from Apollinaire to Ian Hamilton Finlay to Caroline Bergvall and many, many more.
Why do I write what I do?
I once wrote a series of academic essays, including ‘Why I write short lines’, ‘Why my lines go down’ and ‘How I feel about punctuation’. I found many answers to the ‘Why do I write’ questions in the process, but none that I could now know where to begin with, so perhaps they were not so necessary as answers after all.
I write as a means to stretch and move, to get closer to something of thought than the linearity of a sentence allows me. I write with a belief in the revolutionary potential of paradigm shifts in the way we communicate and so arrange ourselves socially. I make as a way of presenting these emotions, ethics and politics to my hands.
How does your writing process work?
Currently I am in an interesting mid-space operating somewhere between composition and improvisation. I used to write things that were almost entirely in continual process. They might stay in one basic outline on the page but every time I went to send them for publication or to read them aloud changes and modifications would occur. I was always very uneasy with allowing something to settle and in very few cases do I have poems which are now never touched, including those in print publications.
However my current practice requires a different process, as these writings must be fixed, in order for them to be printed out and photocopied and transferred onto another sheet of handmade paper. So I tend to allow for a circulatory writing that might end with the intent of being read again - the end bleeding into the beginning. I am increasingly writing versions, a poem that may have several columns and each column contains variations of the same. Rather than trying to edit into ‘one’ way of saying it, I am much more able to put down all the ways and allow my eye or voice to skip between with intuition in the moment of reading. A semi improvised act.
The transferred text can be reset into new, fresh wet pages where the fibres will incorporate and integrate each other, the text can be place on the surface of the wet sheet or I can lift the fibre and lay it under to surface, partially obscured. I can place it upside down, in reverse, I can stretch and condense the letters and curve and distort the lines of text in this wet stage. My choices as to how the text interacts with the surface are amplified, and as such the writing happens as much at this stage as it did in the initial typing. I do not meet the paper page with a clear plan of the text, but instead allow the text to alter the page and the page to alter the text. They perform each other and will mutually dry together into a ‘set’ piece of work, the fibres condense as the water leaves and they grip hold of their surroundings and draw them in close. Of course this is paradoxically fixed in many ways more than if written or printed on a traditional page, and the impossibility of these conflicting experiences of permanence and impermanence are perhaps key to the continued drive of my practice.