An’ here I go again on my own … Blindsided

blindsided coverIt’s term paper time. Experimental writing term paper time. Whatever comes up next on the blog should perhaps come with a warning. It’s written for a very small audience: people who are interested in sight and blindness along with experimental writing and the avant garde. I suspect I may be the only person in the centre of this Venn diagram … but I’ve been bitten hard by this one, it’s obsessing me, and I have so much more written than will fit in the term paper, and it’s all going to end up here …

watch this space

The title is Blindsided. Visual metaphors ripple through the work.

watch this space

 

Ref

quote: Derrida, Jaques, Droit De Regard (Les Impressions Nouvelles 2010)

Experimental writing workshop 4: Create Your own Writing Exercise

Writing in a box

this term we have been exposing unwritten rules about writing.

Do you always start sentences with a capital?

why? because you were told to? what happens if you don’t?

writing without rules, outside rules, with new rules, your own rules, any sort of experimental writing, is scary, exposing, liberating.

try to write with new rules, with the rules that you devise yourself, with

my rules,

his rules,

her rules.

when you write like this Do you find a new you?

have you got a pen? do you need one to take part in this class? do you have to write with pen on paper, black on white? black marks on a screen? what happens if you write in white on white?

does your writing need to be understood?

Take away the rules of writing, and what are you left with? There’s nothing scarier to a writer than a totally blank page: at the same time that page is full of potential, the perfect object of desire.

Give me space to write and I could write anything.

So, here goes. I’m giving you a space to write. Space with new walls, new rules.

Go to the supermarket, the café, the corner store. Hang out at the back, try not to look too suspicious. Eye up everything they have chucked out until you find the cardboard boxes. Look for the biggest box you can find. If you live near Ikea, all the better. Pick a box, big enough to fit a body in. Take it home.

Set up your box. Use tape to reassemble it if it has been flattened. Switch off your phone.

Take your box, and find it a place. This might be the bathroom, perfect if it has no windows. What about the basement, the attic?

My basement is concrete lined and dark.

Find a marginal space, somewhere you won’t be disturbed. If there are windows, pull the curtains.  Lock the door. If there is a light, put it out. Do you need clothes? If not, disrobe. Pick up your pen: I did say that you’d need a pen, didn’t I. Choose the colour of your ink.

My ink is white.

Climb into your box, seal yourself inside, sit there, legs furled, pen in hand. Eyes shut.

Feel the card against you, warm card, warm skin. Do you want to move, wriggle, shuffle? Adjust your position until you can be still, then sit again until the bones of your pelvis burn and your spine fuses.

Listen. What can you hear in your box? Water flowing through pipes? The rustle that might be mice? The rub as you breathe in and out? The whoosh of blood in your ears. Impulses racing down nerves, the message each sound sends to your brain? Listen until you can hear your irises dilate.

Open your mouth. What is on your tongue? Is the air stale, metallic? Can you taste the last meal you ate, lingering garlic? Do you thirst? Salivate, and taste yourself.

Inhale. Smell the room around you, your own scent, that of the box. Stay there, stay with that, how long do you need to stay there before it changes? When do you end up immersed in the scent of your own excreta?

Now, open your eyes. What can you see? Is it dark in your box? It’s not, not really, not if you have sat there long enough for your irises to dilate, your rods to adapt, for every cell in your retina to scream for stimulation. Track the lines of light where the box is made, the outside world seeping in through cracks and corners, follow them round and round, up and down, trace them with your gaze until your head spins and you no longer know which way is up.

Now write.

Write your heart beat, write your enclosure, write out, write infinity. Write secrets, write blindness, write what you know and what you don’t know, never knew, will never ever know again. Write on the walls of your box until they are covered, and when you have covered the walls write on your own skin, until there is no boundary between you and your box and your pen has run out of ink. And if you need to write more, you must write in your own blood.

When you have written, burst open your body, your box, cardboard sprawl on carpet, on concrete.

Flatten your box. Expose your words, let light in and see the true colour of your ink.

Lie on your box and be your words. Ride them, wavewords, ride them, sightless horses, ride them ecstatic until they cast you back on the shore.

Spent.

Bibliography

Helene Cixous The Laugh of the Medusa (1975) in The Routledge Language and Cultural Theory Reader, 2000

Helene Cixous Writing Blind, in Stigmata, Routledge 1988

CA Conrad A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon

Knife-edged Love

If you are broken I might be enough

sun in my eyes blind me to what stands

stone grey sea rises and falls with my heart beat

worship me you say

cotton, polyester, wool,

fingers freeze

waves ride in relentless sea

wind in my hair

feet enclosed in fur lined boots

my worship is not enough

I stay hidden

next to my skin

chill at my breast

unceasing sea roll me over and over

sun warm on my eyes

grey white winter skin and hair

cotton polyester wool in layers keep me warm

food in my belly                love

what I want is fractured

knife edged love

chill freeze my fingers

rays caress me open

waves roll in       heaped spray spreads into sheets of foam

wind blows harder

knife marks your wound

why is it so hard to think about love

out of place nothing before me

no more skin exposed than lips and nose and icyfingertips

heat escapes      capillaries contract

sea slide up the beach bubble and roil

sun seeps through the cold

just like your words scar

other than as a mirror for you

what I want doesn’t exist

strip layer after layer,

expose my eskimo skin

waves roll and roll

role on

I bare myself for you

because I can imagine what I want

still chill on my heart

roll no gold line roll on

you are hundreds of miles away

will you do the same for me?

Experimental writing workshop 3 (First Draft)

This week we can either:

1. write about being naked in a truck full of strangers in another, imaginary, world. how will we SHOW the differences, sociologically and anthropologically, by the interactions between us and our fellow prisoners. (Ref, Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness)

2. construct a physical world and write about it.

3. write about love without the use of gender pronouns.

I pick 3.

Please excuse the French in the first draft, as I have put this all down very quickly – any corrections gratefully appreciated (plus my Petit Robert fails me on limerance and liminal!)

frontier love

to love = aimer

 

we love without borders

in limerance I give myself to you

no holding back, no baggage

our love is perfect

hold this/that moment

 

je suis

tu es

nous sommes

nous tombons

nous sommes tombé(e)s amoureux

 

a border divides us, a sea, a language

I don’t know why I think I can love in French when my love in English is imperfect

 

nous aimons

nous avons aimé(e)s

nous aimons quand …

nous avons aimé(e)s

nous aimons sans frontières

en limerance je me donne à toi

sans retenue, aucune bagage

notre amour est parfait

maintiens ce moment

 

I am

you are

we are

we fall

we fell in love, we fell loving

une frontière qui nous divise, une mer, une langue

je ne sais pas pourquoi je pense que je peux aimer en français quand mon amour en anglais est imparfait

we love

we loved

we were loving when …

we used to love

 

under au dessous de La Manche, 250 feet below sea level, ca c’est soixante seize mètres a toi, I pause, je m’arrête, weight of water (l’eau) crushing me m’écrase

as I travel again comme je voyage encore

liminal space/espace liminal

my life divided/ma vie divisée

from yours

no we. oui?

If you say tomber en amour to a French(wo)man, s/he/they/we may start looking for holes.

to see: voir

the sea: la mer

je traverse la mer de te voir

je deviens une mère/un père

tu deviendras un père/une mère

nous serons des parents

unspeakable difference

 

 

Experimental writing workshop 2 (second draft) Comments please!

This is an evolution from my notes from last weeks writing exercise, and I need some opinions! Is this better with more punctuation, as in the version here, or less … see below.

 

Version 1

If you are broken I might be good enough

Pink-warm crystal next to my skin. Stone grey sea rises and falls with my heart beat. Sun in my eyes blind me to what stands. Chill freeze my fingers, can’t write. Rays caress me open. No gold. Why is it so hard to think about love? Heat rises from my fingertips, capillaries contract. Cotton polyester wool in layers keep me warm, food in my belly, love. Two pairs of socks, fur toed boots. Waves roll in, heaped spray spreads into a sheets of foam. Slide up the beach, bubble and roil, knife edged love. No more skin exposed than lips and nose and icyfingertips.

Waves role in rein in ride in relentless unceasing roll me over and over and over and I am with you because you have no interest in me other than as a mirror for you. I can stay hidden. Worship me, you say, and my worship is enough.

Wind in my hair makes me put my hood up, just like your words scar, knife marks yours wound chill at my breast. What I want doesn’t exist, what I want is imperfect because I can imagine what I want.

Waves roll and roll, sun seeps from the cold. Wind blows harder, fingers freeze. Still chill on my heart, sun warm on my eyes and you are hundreds of miles away.

Expose my eskimo skin, grey white winter skin and hair, strip layer after layer, cotton, polyester, wool. Bare myself for you. Will you do the same for me?

Out of place, nothing before me, line roll on.

Role on.

Roll.

 

Version 2

If you are broken I might be good enough

pink warm crystal next to my skin stone grey sea rises and falls with my heart beat

sun in my eyes blind me to what stands chill freeze my fingers can’t write rays caress me open

no gold why is it so hard to think about love

heat rises from my fingertips capillaries contract cotton polyester wool in layers keep me warm food in my belly love

two pairs of socks fur toed boots

waves roll in heaped spray spreads into a sheets of foam slide up the beach bubble and roil knife edged love no more skin exposed than lips and nose and icyfingertips

waves role in rein in ride in relentless unceasing roll me over and over and over

and I am with you because you have no interest in me other than as a mirror for you I can stay hidden worship me you say and my worship is enough

wind in my hair makes me put my hood up just like your words scar knife marks yours wound chill at my breast

what I want doesn’t exist what I want is imperfect because I can imagine what I want

waves roll and roll sun seeps from the cold wind blows harder fingers freeze still chill on my heart sun warm on my eyes and you are hundreds of miles away

expose my eskimo skin grey white winter skin and hair strip layer after layer, cotton, polyester, wool, bare myself for you will you do the same for me

out of place nothing before me line roll on

role on

roll

 

Experimental writing workshop 2

image

This week is about doing an exercise from CA Conrad’s A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics. This is a beautiful book, mixing poems and ‘exercises’, most of which are designed to take you out of sitting in front of the laptop or at a desk. Instead why not try making soup and writing with your hand in your soup? Or writing with a penny in your mouth? The Soma(tics) are about feeling and writing, writing and feeling, finding my body, coalescing the divine and the nervous system, all of which is explained better in the introduction to the book which I think you should be able to read via Amazon’s Look Inside.

31pu4j1n2VL._SL250_The image, top right, outlines the exercise I picked, taking a crystal, throwing it on a hand drawn map, and going to where it falls to write. This is an initial draft pulled from the notes I wrote while out. I’ve consciously not punctuated or added capitals because I’m fed up with Word capitalising for me. I may come back and punctuate later but this flow seemed to fit with the thoughts and notes I created:

 

If you are broken I might be good enough

pink warm crystal next to my skin stone grey sea rises and falls with my heart beat

sun in my eyes blind me to what stands chill freeze my fingers can’t write rays caress me open

no gold why is it so hard to think about love

heat rises from my fingertips capillaries contract cotton polyester wool in layers keep me warm food in my belly love

two pairs of socks fur toed boots

waves roll in heaped spray spreads into a sheets of foam slide up the beach bubble and roil knife edged love no more skin exposed than lips and nose and icyfingertips

waves role in rein in ride in relentless unceasing roll me over and over and over

and I am with you because you have no interest in me other than as a mirror for you I can stay hidden worship me you say and my worship is enough

wind in my hair makes me put my hood up just like your words scar knife marks yours wound chill at my breast

what I want doesn’t exist what I want is imperfect because I can imagine what I want

waves roll and roll sun seeps from the cold wind blows harder fingers freeze still chill on my heart sun warm on my eyes and you are hundreds of miles away

expose my eskimo skin grey white winter skin and hair strip layer after layer, cotton, polyester, wool, bare myself for you will you do the same for me

out of place nothing before me line roll on

role on

rhole on

rowl on

worl on

wowl on

ole on

roll

 

Experimental Writing: Haiku form

More explanation. I went to a creative writing workshop based on the exhibition, Observations. It was run by Tempo arts and facilitated by Ian Monk, a member of the Oulipo group. (See last week’s post if you want to know more about Oulipo and why I’m interested in it.)

Ian asked us to write 3 lines, in the centre of the page, inspired by one picture from the exhibition, in haiku form, 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. He then asked us to expand, up and down, as if we were looking outside the frame of the picture.

 

 

in the beginning

sun on water, salt and earth

protozoa crawl

 

oil slick skin keep me safe whole

from water we come

and from water we are made

 

and in that moment

waves stull, black ice crystals form

eyes mouth full. I drown

 

gasp inhale brine my lungs

surface. Air once more

exhausting oscillation

a choice. My choice? No.

I’m drawn to where I came from

body dissipates

 

At this point we were asked to leave our poems on the table and walk round and take 3 lines from someone else’s poem:

 

ID-100173149

Phoenix In Fire Background Photo by fotographic1980 via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Crack. Dark. Swamp leaf earth mould egg

a dragon is born

small spark wavers wavers falls

le mer violant

exhales mille drunken kisses

smelting sea to gold

en or I watch him arise

phoenix wing spread burns

destruction dragonified

 

This was a useful exercise following on from the first experimental writing workshop, again forcing me to discard my habitual choice of words to fit a constraint.

 

Experimental writing workshop 1

I don’t normally feel the need to explain my writing, and would rather let it stand by myself. This term, however, we’re doing an experimental writing workshop so …

This week’s exercise is based on Oulipo, a group of writers, originating in France who write ‘with constraints’ and impose rules on what they do. What’s the point? Well, just in doing these exercises, I’ve found my vocab challenged and I’ve been pushed out of using phrases and structures that I didn’t realise i was stuck in. See what you think …

A Belle Absente – a love poem, where you omit the letters of the name of the beloved. In this one, the first letter is omitted from all the words in the first line, the second from the second line and so on.  I also entirely omit z.

Belle absente – no z

No hurry, we grow near, contrived ex-juncture, back-bound flame, leap the oblique.

No speed, a joyful glimpse of you enough, you bring me, wing me, my calyx, manqué, lack-driven.

No rush, pack foot forward, our ghost visits, filling my body, mixing my quick spirit, jostling my mind.

We join, step by slow-paced step like we are at no time apart, axel spinning, our faded quest near done.

We meet, quest-vexed, joke, hug, fall, candy touch, you pour yourself over my body.

In gaps, in want, in sound-lack, box-quick form of you, my Hajj, your vow, our void.

A circuit – a poem which can be read in different directions. The most amazing version of this is the book, Hundred Thousand Billion poems.

This is a simple ‘table’ – read along the lines or down the columns.

Asking                   I open my mouth                             I hold out my hands

Choosing             Head first                                            I follow my heart

Listening              I use my ears                                     Blood circulates, I breathe

Writing                 From eye to brain                            From head to heart to hand to pen

Publishing           I make my mark                                I fall.

There’s still plenty of work to do on these two poems, but I can already see how the constraints challenge my vocabulary, and force me to find fresh ways to describe an experience.