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On collaborations

November 23, 2020

I’ve been to two physical launches of issues of Magma poetry magazine. Both involved exhausting, expensive and time-consuming journeys from Somerset to London and back. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending a virtual Magma launch without travelling or expense. It was warm and intimate, with magnificent readings and the usual Zoomy glitches. Not by any means to be confused with gloomy Zitches. (Which, since you asked, is Urdu for “stalemates”.)
Magma 78 is mostly about collaborations. It is a rewarding and exciting read.

It got me thinking about other collaborations. I’ve been involved in a few, one of which was “Waterwoven”, a half-hour performance of poems about water. A sound-collage for six voices and rain-stick. Forty-two poems by six poets were cut up and rearranged to form a sequence for performance, beginning with the first drops of rain and ending with the vastness of the Atlantic. Solid blocks of blank verse were whittled down to slender elliptical stanzas. Sonnets and villanelles were ruthlessly dismembered. Many opening lines and first stanzas were discarded. Choruses emerged. We had the first draft of a script. Through four weeks of rehearsal it was refined bit by bit by all of us. Another week of rehearsal might have yielded further changes. We performed it in Bath Poetry Cafe and at Bristol Poetry Festival … and in the Literature tent at Priddy Folk Festival. The neighbouring tent was the venue for a programme of rousing sea shanties. I do love a rousing sea shanty, but …

Other collaborations I’ve enjoyed in recent years include LZRD, from Indigo Dreams. It’s a captivating, playful and mysterious sequence of poems from the Lizard peninsula by Alyson Hallett and Penelope Shuttle. One can only guess who wrote what!

Aloneness is a Many-Headed Bird was published by the Hedgehog Press last Monday and arrived through my letterbox the next day. A sequence of touchingly honest responses to ageing and the state we and the world are in, by Rosie Jackson and Dawn Gorman. Their poems, presented alternately, complement each other perfectly. Swell Amazon’s bulging coffers if you really must, but you can get a signed copy here.

Two Girls and a Beehive is a beautiful collection from Two Rivers Press by Rosie Jackson and Graham Burchell: a meditation on the art and the complicated life and loves of Stanley Spencer.

And today, thanks to an email from StAnza, I discovered this. THIS! Another glorious collaboration. A choose-your-own adventure. Do have a look.

Written by Ama Bolton on 23rd November 2020

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