November 18, 2020
Tonight is the prelaunch reading for my new collection INDEX !
The Kickstarter campaign set up by brilliant Tom Jenks at zimZalla, has met its target – so the printing can go ahead. There’s still time to register for a pack of prophetic cards at a 40% discount. And there are strange extra rewards for anyone who is inclined or able to pay extra!
I’ll be reading alongside the amazing poet Philip Terry whose newest publication, TURNS, is an Oulipian box of surprises also made by poetry object press zimZalla. Do sign up!
Over the last year I’ve been making little cut up poems and pasting them onto pastel coloured index cards. Like a lot of things I do this began as a mild diversion creeping out from the side of a couple of big projects that were claiming my daylight attention.
It continued in this way – every few days I’d find a couple of hours to pore over the collage stash I’d been hacking to bits for my last book: 60 Lovers to Make and Do, and I’d skim the prose for phrases that seemed particularly pointed or musical or visually charged.
I love the drama in old fashioned phrases from the Biggles Annual or Girl: any 1960s & 70s books and journals from the decades when I was a child, full of advice, morality, implicit and occasionally overt -isms of every sort. Favourites that also inspired 60 Lovers, were activity books including craft and recipe books.
I couldn’t use text by named authors – nothing where the notion of authorship vaunts loftiness or self consciousness – this wouldn’t be raw material for my own authorship and would feel more like stealing than repurposing.
When I got to that dream residency studio in Berkeley last December – I had the fun of assembling a transatlantic collage stash – which I wrote about at the time. I found a good selection of index cards and boxes to stack them as well, at the wonderful Elmwood Stationers on my local parade.
When I was finding my big paintings heavygoing – I would just put the colours to one side, and get snipping through the treasures I’d accumulated – with extra delight at the different language opening up from this American material.
Dan Schifrin, the residency manager, asked me a good question: What’s it like to inhabit the body of the person who makes these big gestural paintings and the person who makes these tiny cut up collage poems?
I found this impossible to answer, so I wrote a short play in which two very different women have to share a studio. They don’t get on, although they do respect each other’s processes. Gloria, the painter, is full of exclamations about the wonder of nature. She gets on Edith’s nerves. Edith, the misunderstood poet, is introverted and terse. She can sometimes be soothed with a nice coffee and home made cookie from Gloria. I sent the play to Dan, and for fun added this photograph taken of Gloria and Edith on one of the rare occasions when they were in the studio together.
For now, I, London Sophie, have a few things to sort out between now and the reading. Hope to see you there.