Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Collaborations Continue ...

EDITOR: I'm happy to announce I have friends with adventurous souls - in this instance Sheila Murphy from USA and Doug Barbour from Canada (How strangely history has carved the world up!). These two are exceptional poets and prolific in their individual careers - yet have found time since 2000 to collaborate, a project appropriately named Continuations. We are privileged to read some of the continuing work below, plus a word or two about the process after-words.

Continuations XCIX:

find a way through mapped
   or unmapped trajectories  a passage
            way beyond all sales
   or under glass promotions   just walk
            beneath refracted sun or rain
wind or whether blown out of doors

in a fugue state  walking
            to another face
                        a wreath around darkness
                        through doorways
map-less                       toward
            mere weather    as a way

through   reflection   sur
            face off ice or glass
   family romance as culture
            convenience   stored
               too long in sub
            stance  frozen there

cyclical venting of
            one or another rose
                        sketched in the rough
    a lass familiar with
            chiseled surface
                strikes a zen pose

penned  those petals etch
   each parse of page
            a kind of black
announcement   means
   not ends will flower
            on each blank(et)ed page

age does not repeat
            a moment
                        parsing from petal
   to point          toward another
            evening page upon
                        pacing without end

less pulp  more purple
   (p)rose of taxing
            tales turned   or des pointes
a dance of intellectualized
            machinery  a fake or
               deke  un(der)written there

people drink a big gulp
            beverage          including slurpy
                        or rose-tinted slush
   lax tasteless test (less mind
            ful than on point
                        of flow(e(r)ring)

a pointed rejoinder  a fleur de
            lies  less loose lips
   than looped flips   flops
            fall into the red
   slip(per)s   sunk
            in thick piles (pilloried

slippage lops off
            variations on a them(e)
                        devotion:          read to me
    pooled cinch of an idea         whose time treads
                        upon (what) lies (ahead)
       of willowy surfaces

bread and circumstances  w(h)ine
   read & consumed   pledge
            seen and returned be
   neath a brow  beat and
            battered  per
               cussed as idea logged

sumatra flavored morning
            rows of succulents subsumed
    under milder weather            legible
                        dissent here versus
       the antithesis of mesh afar contagious
              and not quite   about ideas

read or ready to materialize
            as through a mesh starkly
   mirrored thought less reflection
            wind ruffled   trees bent
               over the smallest white
                        caps  tugged   begging
flecks of matter bend
            as treason chastens conscience
                        while over         a stark surface
    wind roars as if         to scrub
                        free the thought of
bigger spheres of influence

affluence argues in fluent
   tongues of fire(d)
            burnt out and turned down
a kind of fear as pain(ed)
               harsh song (or soup) lines

a painting of fear collects
            no lines             tongues merely spoken
                        run parallel to the story
    in flames upon the screen
            removal differs from art
                        with nothing left before it’s there

northern borders  from nada can
            nothing arrive   a nod
   ding head as empty of thought
            as awareness   an old
   rhetoric redoubled   still
            empty  minded (the s(t)ore

bowl offered
            hereby configuring
                        pure no
     thingness      arriving
           without wares
  thus believing unawares

as empty does   fills with
   nots  too tied to
            ever unravel
   plots   to ride new
narrative twists    turn
            coated lead(ers) to fools

id est                lots of wind
   lots of wind                as if
            a scarce commodity      too
            constant a story
constantly told

a mouth too wide   deep
            in a big muddy
   argument  unsalvaged
            the cut cost cast
               aside  a wide
            and winding read

dumb luck plummets
            cults of net        yield(ing)
                        on-side benefaction
    to entrap       the needy in false
                        arguments read
 under a mud surface

such a falling off but
   ton from what push
            pull of power rep
resented as ever  (since
            sense says solo
   flight alone will do will to

speckle a fleet of ushers
in their pent-up phases
   of severance using pin
                        light lo and be
hold a number               well done
            the wow factor hovering

a new ear all legislated   hear all
            never listening   listing
   to starboard   stars bored
            st(r)ay thought  full
               load of in (or ex)
            cremental logic systems

thought through stories
            boarded up       to keep
                        light                  in and out
     stars            reach pores
            fill outer surface
                        with      like       slate

date(d) narrative slush   a
   slippery scope   out(ed)
            and a way too far
   to tell    sell   fell
            or full fury of
               oil(y) fired  sincerity

although            and yes
            a way to           through
                        sails      or
  species in                    or outer
            fields                lush      with


Comments on Collaboration:

 With collaboration, there is an even broader sense of subject, that is, less of tightly controlled ‘about-ness.’ ‘Concepts, referents, even possible sites of imagery,’ are alive, balancing the roles of receiver and sender in a two-way process. When one writes collaboratively, there's a comfort and a simultaneous ‘ready for anything’ sensation, as the spectrum of surprise and expectation is touched in various places. On seeing or hearing the collaboration partner's response, one is often stimulated by the passage just received and read, then drawn into the work by wanting to respond. The curious thing that can happen in collaboration is the blurring of lines between writers. In one view, the better the collaboration, the less evident the two (or more) writing styles. Not a lowest-common-denominator approach to writing. Rather, it would seem that at its most artistic, collaboration brings into being a new writer, different in many ways from either of the individual writers. Such a presence cannot be forced into existence. It comes with committed working together over time.

In Continuations, we agreed on a more or less fixed format of six lines, and have bounced the ongoing process of poem-construction back and forth over the years, since November 2000. It seems that in that time a ‘third individual’ has emerged, who writes differently from the way that either writer would be creating independently. Emmy Lou Harris, speaking of her collaboration with  Mark Knopfler, makes a point that allusively applies to this poetic version: "When you combine two unique voices it creates a third, phantom voice."

- Doug Barbour & Sheila Murphy

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