Giving voice to the void

An image from Void Voices

March was an important month for me. On Friday 15th I joined Paul Hawkins, Sarah Cave and Pascal O’Loughlin at Storysmith Books in Bristol for a reading of experimental poetry, as part of the Bristol Poetry Festival. We had a great turn-out, and it was good to see some familiar faces there. Paul, Sarah and Pascal demonstrated their brilliance as poets, all receiving enthusiastic responses from the audience. I read some new pieces, kicking off with Cockroach (a true story about my birth), followed by some selections from the first three parts of Void Voices, including this excerpt:

To my surprise, several people asked me to sign copies of Void Voices, which made me feel like a total fraud, masquerading as a proper author. I think I managed to keep up the act though, and I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy it! Huge thanks to Paul Hawkins for organising the event, and to Emily and Dan at Storysmith Books for being such welcoming hosts.

At the end of the month, something even more wonderful happened. Poet and artist ReVerse Butcher, in collaboration with COLLAGE, performed extracts from Void Voices in Melbourne. COLLAGE is: Roger Alsop – Guitar; Kylie Supski – Poet + Photographer; Sophie Manual Breathing Rose – Vocals + Throat Singing; Ozlem Kesik – Multi-Instrumentalist; Eiichi Tosaki – Multi-Instrumentalist + Bimanual Coordination Drawing; ReVerse Butcher – Performance of Excerpts from Void Voices.

“Men behind glass make notes on our appearance, our social networks, our sex lives. One points at you with a finger that looks like a gun.” – ReVerse Butcher performing an excerpt from Void Voices in Melbourne.

The COLLAGE event was filmed, so you can see how my work was interpreted and performed. Here are all three parts:

It was a great honour to have my work performed so sensitively and imaginatively. One day, I’ll have to visit Melbourne and buy a beer for everyone involved!

March was an important month for another reason too. Emma Miles wrote a beautiful creative review of Void Voices for minor literature(s), in which she played on (or with) the poem’s erotic qualities. It was the most engaged written response to Void Voices I have read. Please check it out here!

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Cosmologgorhea

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Tonight sees the start of a Twitter collaboration with Richard Biddle, one of my fellow time lines poets.

The project is @cosmologgorhea. The name is a portmanteau word, combining cosmos with loggorhea (an uncontrollable verbal outpouring or incoherent talkativeness). Our subject matter is the Big Bang and subsequent development of the universe (no less!), expressed here through linguistic cosmology, words whirring and spinning, word-worlds evolving, revolving.

Here’s how it works. We take it in turns to tweet. Each tweet must contain three words DMed by the other author, and must build on the previous tweet. We want to create a continuous narrative, though the artificiality of including the rogue DMed words will force it to take surprising turns.

Richard has DMed me three words. So I’ll be tweeting first.

Neither Richard nor I have any idea how the story will develop. Please follow @cosmologgorhea and find out with us!

New material in time lines

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Most of the poems and prose poems I contributed to time lines were new and had not appeared in print before.

Here is the complete list. Only those with asterisks have appeared in my previous books. “Phases” is a revised, augmented version of the poem that appeared in The Death of the Bird King.

When the Bird King Died
Medusa Variations
13 Pieces of a Broken Mirror
At Night the Mannequins Play Dead*
Broken clocks hand out wrong times
13 Deleted Scenes…
Cars crouch on wet driveways
Days of the Snowman*
Mirrors reflect in melancholy
13 Disturbing Objects…
At Seaton Beach
13 Transformations…
Phases*
Golgotha*
The Oneiropoem
Brassai in Paris*
Grandma’s Eyes
The Bird King Lies Dead

You can buy time lines here.

Dinner for One

I am pleased to announce that, after a hiatus of several months, the short film Dinner for One is back on YouTube.

I made the film a few years ago with a couple of exceedingly talented people, but we ran into some copyright problems with the soundtrack soon after it was uploaded to YouTube.

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So I approached Adam Wimbush, who composed some terrifying music for the Bird King last year, and asked if I could use a section of his piece Realms as the soundtrack to Dinner for One. He agreed, and when I added his music to the film it was as if he’d written it especially for our horrible little piece.

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I’ll say no more. You can see the film here and enjoy the combination of sound and image yourself.

I’m the one in the suit, by the way.

time lines is coming this Friday!

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On Friday I shall be releasing an anthology of writings called time lines. The book is a collection of works by six authors (including me), all of whom have published and collaborated on twitter.

The other five authors are @littledeaths68, @gadgetgreen, @sandcave, @welloverthought and Mina Polen, whose work can be found on this blog and whose twitter handle is @minafiction.

The six of us are quite diverse, in terms of our subject matter and styles. But we share a preoccupation with inner worlds, an interest that has found expression through the solitary communion of social networking. Many of the poems and prose poems in the collection started life as tweets.

Here’s an excerpt from my preface, which was written as a tweet series:

6. Poetry has been given a lifeline by online social networking. The private and personal has become the public and universal.
7. All of the poets in this volume publish and collaborate on Twitter. Our words thrash and leap through the rapids of the timelines.
8. People don’t usually have time for poetry. But poems popping up in timelines give instant sensation, gratification.
9. The tweet is the sonnet for the 21st Century. If a sonnet embodies elegant compression, a tweet is a mind-expanding miniature.

The book will be published through lulu.com and will cost just over £5 – not bad for 230 pages! All of the poets agreed we want to sell this as cheaply as possible and forego any profits.

Watch this space! On Friday I’ll publish a link for purchasing the book…

New and future projects

I’ve got a few projects on the go. One is time lines, an anthology of Twitter poets that I hope to publish next month through lulu.com. Nearly everything is in place now, including the cover art. Here’s a line from my draft preface: “In the world of poetry, the tweet is the new sonnet.”

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One of the writers represented in time lines is Richard Biddle. We plan to set up a fresh Twitter account together and create a tweet-by-tweet continuous narrative. I’ll be releasing more info about this as soon as time lines is out.

Another project, starting soon, is Transformations, a reworking by several poets (including me) of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This is Nicky Mortlock’s brainchild, and I’m honoured to be part of it. Ovid’s mercurial universe of instability, eroticism and violent change has strong echoes in my writing, so it’ll be quite natural to recreate some of his stories.

The next solo book I hope to publish is 13, a sequence of thirteen 13s. There’s still quite a lot of work to do, but I’d like to publish in late March, to mark the Bird King’s first birthday (my first BK tweet was emitted through @echovirus12 in March 2012). There is also a chance that one of my 13s will one day be published in a slim volume of its own, with colour illustrations by a very talented painter…

Finally, as my obsession with Mr Punch, Judy and Jack Ketch deepens, plans are afoot for a collaboration with an artist on a Punch sequence, with the working title Mr Punch Dreams