Monday, 18 August 2014

I Collaborate With Alex Ramsay

I wrote five poems last week.  And they're keepers.  They will probably develop, become more streamlined and robust, but each has its core, which will remain.  They are five of twelve written for a collaboration.

This unusual proliferation is due to an invitation from Alex Ramsay in the spring to write poems in response to photographs for his exhibition, Os.  It is also something to do with having a deadline, with a sense of commitment to Alex's work - which I've always loved - and a desire to rise to the occasion.

I recently asked a poet whether he ever collaborates.  'Only with myself', he said, twinkling.

Collaboration involves conversation both with the work and the artist.  It demands intimacy, trust and vulnerability.  For me, it feels a bit like getting my kit off in broad daylight.  And I'm nearly fifty.

The conversations Alex and I have had have been about his philosophy of photography, about font size, about how elephants eat, about wine, about resurrection.  We've discussed the many meanings of the Latin word Os (bone, mouth, mask ....) before it declines into oris, or ossis.

In terms of process, I've been carrying around copies of Alex's photos in my bag for weeks - getting them out to look at whenever I can.  Making notes.  Writing, discarding.  Staring out of windows.  Looking again.  Writing, discarding.  Waiting for an authentic response.

Responding to Alex's work in poetry has been a privilege, and brought a satisfaction which collaborating with myself doesn't.  Ars gratia artis.

 Event 15 of the Presteigne Festival is at the Workhouse Gallery on Monday August 25th at 11.00am 
Liz Lefroy will be reading from her latest work Mending the Ordinary while Alex Ramsay will give an outline of the thinking behind the exhibition Os - tickets £6.00 from the Festival box office ( or 01544 267800)

1 comment:

  1. I believe that all poetry is a conscious, or sub-conscious, response to something. An overt collaboration is merely a part of that process. Sometimes we spar with ourselves, sometimes with others. I look forwards to reading these.