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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Re: practice

From:

[log in to unmask] (cris cheek)

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask] (cris cheek)

Date:

Mon, 15 Jun 1998 17:36:43 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (276 lines)

1. i 'write' most days, but that might include e-mails, notes, 'pieces'.
It's habituated into my living, but not a habit with a set time in a daily
routine.

2. These days do you write in the same place e.g. in the kitchen/bathroom
etc; on the bus to work? Is the workplace in any sense a protected space?
Please specify: I use a workstation, in a kind of home office, which I
guess is a 'protected space' (although the others I live among also use
this space  -  it's a space with flow and interaction) but also have a
laptop and do work on trains. I use a dictaphone when I'm driving or
walking and have been know to take notes in notebooks, even, still.

Last summer I did some 'ive' writing in The Shamen's club (The End),
projecting through a vision mixer onto the walls and dancing figures.
Starting from scratch and working over 2 nights with Jess Levy. We plan
more. The bext thing that happened, about from mixing into Kingsuk Biswas'
raw drum and bass, was that I got requests. People came up and asked if I
could insert such and such in any way I wanted. I mucked with their
suggestions. But they came back and said how delighted they'd been to have
seen their suggestions incorporated. Weird.

3. Drafting: notebooks, scraps of paper, word processor or what?
I still tend to use multiple transformations. A typical process would be
from Dictaphone 'notes', gathered over days or even weeks, transcribed into
notebooks (with all attendant decisions about rhythm, line, minor
ammendments, insertions etc), typed from notebooks onto the computer
(re-line, pace, page, font and so on. SOmetimes the print outs are
arraigned on a wall and become the source for further variations, spoekn,
recorded, transcribed and so on. Often this process takes many many
revisions. I've got an enormous amount of 'writing' that has not been
published and has been in process (through small adjustments) for over
fifteen years.

3a. How are drafts organised - in linear/sequential mode, or in a more
complex structure? Please describe:
Drafts are multiple, as above. The computer versions are tried and tested
in differing fonts, and so on. Often though the sense of the 'page' size,
the likely environment of the projected 'book' is a serious decision that
needs to find an appropriateness both for the text and through the text.
Mutual exemplifications.

3b-e. Why? How long has it taken this practice to evolve? Are you
consistent in this? How aware are you of other writers' strategies in this
respect?

I used to write promptly and publish immediately. Now other startegies have
evolved and I'm still finding ways to be encouraged by what results. This
practice has developed over twenty years and retains many elements of the
writing process that are important to me  -  thickness of detail, swerve,
interior commentary, negotiable sense, rawness, cadence shift, awkward
dialectics between or 'speakable' and and 'unspeakable' (not to pair those
as binaries).

I'm not aware of other writers who work this way, although I'm aware of
others whose practices I touch onto and get energies and perspectives from.
If anyone has information to the contrary I'd be keen to hear about it.

4. A route-to-work question: what, in general terms, is the relationship
between draft and completion?

I try to make several versions of work available. Completion would be the
discourse between those versions and between their presences and the worlds
with which they find 'readers'. I don't get a sense of completion  -  more
of abandonment (although sometimes pieces come back and take on fresh
versions, through invitation or commission).

4a. Does your motivation/intent change during this process? If so can you
say how? An example might help.

The motivation is that there is something there that interests me, that
niggles me to work on it. The intent is to make that 'work', that interest,
available and 'of interest' to as many people as possible (given resources
and time and priorities, which remains to make 'work'). Intent might modify
trhrough re-assessment of 'appropriateness', most usually through
'experience' that tells me something is not 'working'.

An example might not help  -  but: Keith Tuma wrote about one small phrase
from 'Songs From Navigation' (hope you don't mind me quoting this exchange
Keith?)

>This one has me scratchin':  "To know, thrive."
>
>To know AND to thrive.
>
>In order to know one must thrive, be thriving.  Go thrive.  Be IN the scene.
>
>But in the latter among the two most obvious transpositions, the
>possibility of irony for the sudden leap to shape unknown verb-pair.
>
>The "natural" emphasis in articulation and last long vowel forcing phantoms
>of that same irony.
>
>Collapsing desire into empirical verification.  Rejection of ancient link
>of knowledge and suffering but suspended, gone by too quickly to see.
>
>Knowledge and power, separated only by a comma.
>
>That to know would be to thrive enough.
>
>Possibilities in the glimmering corners of cc's barnyawp.
>
>Scratchin'
>
>Friday night scat.
>
>
>* * * * *

my response:

>just found your reply on 'To know,
>thrive' in 'songs . . .'
>
>>I would be interested in the ur-context if you come upon transcripts, but
>>of course I've decontextualized in my meditation-riffs themselves.
>
>and here's the world premier exclusif croquette for you. I was curious too,
>hence the digging out of. I've checked these typings here on this e- and
>they're 'right'  -  i mean accurate even donw to some elliptical details
>(like 'tease vanishing shelf of 'the lot' becoming 'tease the vanishing  .
>. .').
>
>First talk version transcipt has (verbatim the hyphens are arrows onwards
>in the handwritten):
>
>' floating stalks of a kite in a coastal wind put yarrow stalks into our
>eyes or as the seas floor among the remains of a Saxon settlement one
>quarter of a mile out from today's amber beaches forests of undulating
>weeds which cling to the rocks within which what human beings consider
>bizarre creatures   - - thrive
>
>you know that a lot of people have turned up to watch this performance
>although in fact the seats are still in stacks  - -  there's a match here'
>
>Second version  -  the backwards navigation has (verbatim):
>
>'is, erm, a blur to watch. The, co-operation, necessary to, heat up, that
>which might have turned and have both ones friends and of a broadening
>community, that tease vanishing shelf of 'the lot'.
>
>You know, thrive. Implicate creatures, although sometimes it seems that the
>paying, is of over-enhanced attention to the bizarre.'
>
>the version of the first version (if you get that drift), sounds like Danny
>Kay meets Groucho Marx  -  what happens in the book is that the first
>version appears as:
>
>'a "you know what" - and then "what what" performance
>(although in fact the seats are still in stacks) bush of
>reminiscence to replicate that comforted'
>
>whilst the second becomes:
>
>
>'and it, the phone goes, beers are, the buckling seats, towards
>the fact, face-on, plummeting in one of those late stonking
>twentieth century stadiums, a bedroom, although formal
>performance in this instance is, perm, a blur to watch.
>
>The, co-operation, necessary to heat up, that which might
>have tuned both friends and a broadening community, teasing the
>vanishing shelf of 'the lot'.
>
>To know, thrive.
>
>Implicate creatures, an to wall with,
>it seems that the paying, is of over -
>enhanced attention to the bizare.'
>
>curious? ahh process and procedure, ah strategy

A very different example might be 'The Jitters', written and given at
readings in 1980 ish, left alone for years, then turned into first a video
piece (commissioned by Grey Suit magazine in Cardiff  -  still touring
galleries) and then a radio piece (commissioned for 'Hearing Is Believing'
through Moviola). The 'text' remains effectively unpublished (excepting a
'blender' speed version of 1981), doesn't worry me that.

4b. What do you mean by "completion"?

Stopping working on something and not returning to it. Process "over" (as
in over to the readers). I'm not sure that's happened to very much of what
I've been working on, yet.

5. Input: is there a way of generalising your raw materials? Are there,
for instance, groups of books, musics, other artworks, or people in your
life, which you plunder repeatedly? Name the most significant:

Life of language and as factured through language as I experience it and
experience (perceive, understand, reflect on) others experiencing it.
Language as conversation in human societies. Language as 'world',
constructed and constructing. Apprehension of everyday through attention to
thickness of descriptions. Dialecic between 'process' and 'product',
articulation as residual moments of closure. Discontinuities and
continuities between moments of closure. Ghost presences, voices. Narrative
present, narrative pasts, narratives of hope and aspiration and
exploration. Experiments, work embarked on without knowing the outcome in
advance  -  surprise, sharing that surprise.

(I've said more about this kind of thing in the forthcoming book from
Stride, edited by Andy Brown -  so won't repeat here)

5a. What conditions input? Weather? Nation? the Sports pages? Rejection of
all of these?

Everything that happens that I'm party to or that i 'witness', inclusively
and often critically engaged with.

6. How open to mistakes are you? What steps do you take to encourage or
discourage them?

I try to dop my own 'mastering', both of printed matters and sound
compositions and performance materials. Beyond that, many things that are
not expected, 'mistakes'?, still happen. On the whole I welcome them in the
spirit of versioning. However, I do want the version I first intended to
appear as well.
plus I make mistakes that I don't spot at first and will take pains to
'redress' at furture opportunities.

7. Roadtesting your writing: on a few friends? at readings? read to the
cat? leave in a drawer for 6 weeks? Not at all?

Roadtesting and roadtesting and roadtesting. Over years, through readings
and performances, through published 'versions' and the discourse between
them. Through any and all feedback, preferably 'honest' and up front.

7a. Does this process transform the work? If so how?

Sometimes it makes me reassess 'work', sometimes I leave it as it is. The
margin between certitude, fortitude and doubt is wonderfully blurry, a rich
habitat.

8. Do you have lots of pieces of work on the go at the same time? Are they
separate or all part of the same fabric? Or do you work methodically at
one piece, then the next, then the next? Or in none of these ways? Please
specify:

As above, yes, many. However they come in and out of focus. I want 'wroks'
to feel distinctive, to each be trying something different. Re-approaching
'long' work (it might be in digestible units but the cumulative effect is
often 'long', books of over 100 pages)

9. How do you plan/prepare for performance? To what extent is this
incorporated in the drafting? Is performance a fixed point in your intent?

I don't plan much. I present what I'm doing at that time, unless there is a
'commissioned' occasion - such as a 'launch'. I will sometimes add
amterials or commentaries into a text for a specific occasion, that becomes
part of the robustness of that writing's fibre.

I feel nervous if I'm not nervous before a performance. Sometimes I've got
something I want to 'read' and am anxious about whether it's the right
context or not, have other evasionary options ready to go and then make a
very quick decision and follow that into the event,

10. Are you obsessive about the practices you've described? Or could
you stop and do something else?

It's part of my life. I work in video and with music as well as teaching.
The variety nourishes the variety. I guess being true, sometimes resigned,
to the fact that by most 'standards' language seems to behave 'badly' in my
life, is fairly obsessive. I like tending the garden and cooking (not
always) and walking on the beach. But i'm certainly 'driven' pretty much
16, sometimes more, hours a day, to be making 'work'. Don't tell me to get
a life. It is a life.

love and love
cris






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