KNOWING YOUR ENEMIES: THOUGHTS ON THOUGHTS ABOUT COLLABORATION

 
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Over at Sabotage Reviews David Clarke has written a fascinating review of Enemies: The Selected Collaborations of SJ Fowler. Drawing on Bakhtin’s arguments around the dialogic text Clarke (as I understand it) argues that the dialogic elements are actually most evident in texts that refuse a clear sense of who wrote what, maybe even of form and subject. Without this certainty, the reader has to get involved, and the possibility of the text as a multiplicity of possible and actual voices emerges.
 
I found myself relating Clarke’s ideas to some of the decisions Steve and myself have been making regarding the book form of our collaboration, forty feet, an extract from which appears in the Enemies book. Something of the process Clarke describes has been evident in our ongoing and changing decisions about how to arrange the text on the page, what kinds of sections and designation to give the writing, to what extent the text should indicate the presence of two authors, and/or a more general process of exchange and response by which the book’s writing unfolded.
 
Originally our text had forty distinct sections, in which we took turns as author. Although we never had a manuscript that named our respective contributions one early idea was to have two distinct fonts for our respective writings. For the extract in the Penned in the Margins book, sections were cut up, placed in columns, our separate contributions mashed one to the other. I thought the book might take this further, but instead it seemed right to go back to 40 numbered sections, although now those numbers broke up some our existing sections, whilst the text itself no longer had each section starting neatly on a new page.
 
 
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Cyril Connolly Enemies of Promise (1): Getting Blocked in By Your Own Book Collection
 
 
 
Reading what we have now, I no longer know who wrote what. This isn’t entirely true, of course, but there are specific lines and sections where I mean this literally, and the whole text has moved, in my reading of it, beyond that sense of two alternating voices as its organising principle. This unknowing in the face of my/ our own text made me think of Maurice Blanchot’s comment about the text that removes itself from its author. I could only remember Blanchot’s view in these most general of terms so I went back to The Space of Literature and read on page 24:
 
 

The writer cannot abide near the work. He can only write it; he can, once it is written, only discern its approach in the abrupt Noli me legere which moves him away, which sets him apart or which obliges him to go back to that “separation” which he first entered in order to become attuned to what he had had to write. So that now he finds himself as if at the beginning of his task again and discovers again the proximity, the errant intimacy of the outside from which he could not make an abode.

 
 
All I have said here, of course, is from the writer’s point of view. Clarke’s review focuses on the experience of reader and reading and how the knowledge that a text is a collaboration (more particularly in the case of Enemies: some sort of couple) relates to the sense of voice, location and exchange that is  named or intuited by that reader in the text’s form and content. The (currently) final version we have made of forty feet seems one where writer and reader find some sort of equivalence.
 
One other point that I found useful in Clarke’s review was his sense of why the book – and Steve’s collaborations project as a whole – should be called Enemies, a title I realised I had responded to primarily as a provocation that cleared away a certain complacency about what might be involved and at stake. For Clark, again, it is best understood through how we read:
 
 

His collaborations are not friendly: neither in the sense of seeking to arrive at a position of harmony between those producing the work, nor in the sense that a finished artistic product offers the reader any easy answers. In fact, these collaborations are the opposite of a ‘finished’ product: they remain open to a dialogue with the reader, indeed to many dialogues (as in many re-readings) with the reader.

 
 
Steven’s own introduction to Enemies can be seen here. Forty Feet will be out soon from Knives Forks and Spoons Press.
 
 
 
 

REVIEW of HOMAGE TO ETEL ADNAN in GENTLY READ LITERATURE

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My review of Homage to Etel Adnan, edited by Lindsey Boldt, Steve Dickison, and Samantha Giles (The Post-Apollo Press, 2012) appears in the Winter 2014 issue of Gently Read Literature, edited by Daniel Casey out of Lawrence, Kansas.
 
It’s a subscription journal and you can see the full contents for the latest issue here.
 
See a PDF of my Etel Adnan essay here. And more about Etel Adnan’s work here.
 
In thinking through Adnan’s writing, its ideas and influence, this book and my review also anticipate the forthcoming To Look at the Sea Is To Become What One Is: An Etel Adnan Reader, edited by two contributors to Homage, Thom Donovan and Brandon Shimoda, forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2014.
 
 
 
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Etel Adnan, Untitled (2000-2005) oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 27.9 x 35.6 cm.
 
 
 
 

NOTES, REVIEWS, ENCOUNTERS, & THE TURN TOWARDS MIME

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Myself, Karin de Jong and Ohad Ben Shimon at The Print Room, Rotterdam, 13th Dec 2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
MAN AARG! POETRY, ESSAY, ART PRACTICE is one of the books selected by Arnaud Desjardin for the Artists’ Book Collection at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver. He discusses all of the books he has chosen on the Collection’s blog.
 
Sarah Gonnet recently reviewed BRING THE THING at I’m A Serious Journalist You Know, as part of a growing archive of poetry, art, zine, and theatre reviews and interviews.
 
Life continues at The Ruins of Hastings, with several recent posts, including Writing/ Unwriting the Apples, Lemons and Pears and Interruptions, Car Park, with Big, Ugly Stitches.
 
Both of these posts are responses to books, diagrams, and ideas of various writers & artists, whilst they are also feed into an emerging/ amorphous sense of what (in East Sussex and on the web) The Ruins might be/is.
 
The VerySmallKitchen site I curate has just published projects by Kasper Andreasen and Patrick Coyle, following on from projects by Emma Bolland and David Price. On her own website, Emma’s Writing about Re-Writing Writing explores the process of her VSK Project.
 
A big thanks, too, to The Print Room in Rotterdam who hosted a discussion between myself and VSK author Ohad Ben Shimon on December 13th, including readings from the book by Ohad and Mercedes Azpilicueta.
 
After this photo of The Print Room event I wonder if VerySmallKitchen is best understood through mime. I have always wanted VerySmallKitchen to propose/ enact a particular space of writing, reading, and art practice, and here (mid-conversation) it is:
 
 
 
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For some of the publications I found in Rotterdam, and elsewhere, see the VerySmallKitchen twitter feed.
 
 
 
 

WRAP UP! at THE PRINT ROOM, ROTTERDAM 13th DEC

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Images from top: Ruth Van Beek, The Arrangement & Ohad Ben Shimon, 2 Blue Cups on Two Different Corners of the Table.
 
 
 
I’ll be presenting VerySmallKitchen as part of WRAP UP! at The Print Room, Rotterdam on Dec 13th. Full details here.
 
The event will also seen a reading and launch of Ohad Ben Shimon’s VerySmallKitchen book 2 Blue Cups on Two Different Corners of the Table, alongside presentations of Ruth Van Beek’s The Arrangement (RVB Books) and Antje Peters Desserts (Automatic Books).
 
I’m also looking forward to visiting for the first time some of the local bookshops now stocking Ohad’s book, including Walgenbach Art & Books in Rotterdam, San Serriffe and Boekie Woekie in Amsterdam.
 
 
 
 
 
 

POEMS FOR SAINTS THAT ARE POETS AS SAINTS

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Before the Poets as Saints reading at the Hardy Tree Gallery on November 23rd, David Kelly-Mancaux AKA Erkembode gave each of the readers a single sheet of A5, containing a text and/or image in which he spoke through and with each poets work, possibly with the eager assistance of mimi spirits.
 
 
Erkembode’s page for me is above. The whole marvellous sequence can be seen here. Below is the page for Tim Atkins:
 
 
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LUDICROUS AESTHETE IS PUBLISHED BY BLART

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My book LUDICROUS AESTHETE has just been published by Blart Books. It is available here. A sampler PDF is here.
 
The piece was originally commissioned by SJ Fowler and read as part of the Reel Words night at the Reel Iraq festival at Rich Mix, London in March 2013. Sarah Zakzouk reviewed the original event for Reorient magazine here.
 
Many thanks to Stephen Emmerson and Lucy Harvest Clare (Blart editors) for putting this out. Other recent titles include Lucy’s BABA, and Chris Stephenson’s NAPOLI METRO BAD DREAM SEQUENCE. Both highly recommended. Get them here.
 
 
 
 
 
 

POETS AS SAINTS at the HARDY TREE GALLERY 23rd NOV

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I’ll be reading this Saturday 23rd Nov at the Hardy Tree Gallery as part of the wonderful exhibition not just another saint by David Kelly-Mancaux AKA Erkembode (above). Also reading are Tim Atkins, SJ Fowler, Robert Kiely, Sarah Kelly, Holly Pester and Marcus Slease. Full details of the show below.
 
Also on the 23rd I’ll be at the VerySmallKitchen stall as part of the Interrobang Book Fair organised by Annexe, at the Free Word Centre from 11.30-5.00pm. I’ll have all the VerySmallKitchen titles, plus some books by myself, for exchange and purchase.
 
 
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