Collaborations Online Magazine for Magma 78
For Magma 78, we invited poetic collaborations across disciplines and in response were delighted by multi-media poems of all varieties. Below is our selection. These poems move through geographies denuded by ordinary human activity or explore human absence to imagine the arena of no longer. Poets create rules to order feelings of not being served by the lives we’ve bought into. Composers hinge poetic form with emotional registers in the scores they write. Together, these poetic works offer us perspective on how we lose and find the common threads of our humanity.
Editors, David Floyd & Alice Willitts
Caroline Hardaker & composer Charlotte Marlow
Caroline’s poem Medusa is presented as poem-score, where Charlotte’s innovative musical notation adds emotional direction to the verse. An extraordinary collaboration.
Medusa the performance
Contributors’ Notes for Medusa – I’ve had the opportunity to work with writers on a number of occasions, but never have I clicked so artistically and personally with someone as Caroline. I find her poetry and word craft influences my music beyond the scope of our collaborations, she really has changed the scope of my practice. It’s a joy to create with a partner you feel so at ease with. – Charlotte Marlow (composer)
For me, collaborating with Charlotte has meant seeing poetry come to life in ways I couldn’t imagine. On the page, my poetry has become art with a rhythm of its own, and on stage it’s become something truly transcendent and theatrical. The sheet music is a piece of poetic art in itself. You can see how Charlotte has placed intonation within the lines, to add an extra layer of emotion onto it. Whether you can read musical notes or not, reading the poem in this form adds another layer of meaning. You can find out more about how poetry can come to life on my blog. Collaborations mean transformations, and who wouldn’t want to join with like-minds, imagine something new, and step down unexplored avenues together? Caroline’s first collection Little Quakes Every Day is forthcoming from Valley Press. – Caroline Hardaker (poet)
We Wanted Love Without Limits
Lisa Kelly & Cheryl Moskowitz with George Gavin, Alastair Gavin & Kate Shortt
Poem and film accompany one another in an intricate exploration of aching need and rejection.
Contributors’ Notes for We Wanted Love Without Limits – The collaboration began in preparation for an event scheduled for early April 2020. The All Saints Sessions is a music and poetry performance series hosted by Alastair Gavin and Cheryl Moskowitz featuring a changing line up of guest poets and musicians who collaborate to create a one-off show in a candlelit church setting, with music, electronic soundscapes and a surround sound speaker system. We Wanted Love Without Limits started with the loose theme of addressing mothers or motherhood – Mother Muse, Mother Milk etc. and we situated our subjects by bridges or underground. We initially wrote three letters each to an imagined mother figure and sent these by email or post to provoke a response from the other. We used the material generated from these twelve to-and-fros to weave a new piece of work, looking for common threads, and finding where different strands could connect further by interposition of our various responses. The final piece contains imprints of our original voices but evolved through the collaborative process into something rich and strange that surprised us. The next step was for the musicians Alastair Gavin and cellist Kate Shortt to respond to the text with creative crosscurrents of their own. When the country went into lockdown it was clear that the performance could not be staged as planned. We recorded our parts separately from our places of isolation, brought in George Gavin, a film maker living in New York, and stitched all the elements together as a fusion of words, sound and visuals. – Lisa Kelly & Cheryl Moskowitz
Company of Bluewater
Karen Sandhu & Ryan Ormonde with Ula Moroz
Company of Bluewater – Our idea for this project was to write together in Bluewater, a place described by Wikipedia as ‘an out-of-town shopping centre in Stone (postally Greenhithe)’. By setting our intention with a mantra and following self-imposed rules, we ensured that our experience was shared and our practice was driven by the notion of being in company. Our work has evolved into live performance and with the invitation from Magma now into a film. To realise this idea we brought in another collaborator, film editor Ula Moroz. We would like to thank Madalina Zaharia who generously offered studio time for the sound recording and Chris Smith at Kluster who produced that recording. We have worked openly and instinctively and we look forward to further collaboration. – Karen Sandhu & Ryan Ormonde
Di Slaney & composer Omar Shahryar with Emily Hodkinson singing
Contributors’ Notes for Songs of Saudi: i. Shona’s Song – The Songs of Saudi sequence of three poems was developed in collaboration with composer Omar Shahryar, and was based on recorded interviews with his mother, father and brother about their evacuation from Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War of 1990. The first pantoum in the sequence, Shona’s Song, became the lyrics to a performance piece for the 2017 Leeds Lieder Festival, with music composed by Omar and singing by mezzo-soprano Emily Hodkinson. In setting the text to music, Omar sought to preserve the clarity of the words to be sung. Mirroring the pantoum lyrical structure of Shona’s Song, the musical form has its own repeated refrains and subtle variations expressed in the style of a lullaby that becomes increasingly disturbed and distressed. The inclusion of telephone dial and ring tones not only keeps the musical structure faithful to that of the poem, it also serves to counterpoint the dream-like reverie of the piece with the grounded reality of the events that inspired it.- Di Slaney and composer Omar Shahryar with Emily Hodkinson singing
Guided Tour of the Exhibition
Helen Ivory & George Szirtes with Martin Figura
Contributors’ Notes for Guided Tour of the Exhibition – Since we both have a visual art background I thought it might be fruitful to work on a little notional ekphrasis and thus invented the imaginary exhibition. It was nice to be asked by Helen. I am used to collaborations and enjoy them. Helen and I share a background in art so the theme seemed inviting. Collaboration gives you the freedom to experiment and slip out of your usual skin. It feels like an intricate game of tag. Much visual art comes to us validated by both theory and commerce: simplified ideas followed by a gift shop. There is a certain irresistible irony in that. We have begun to write artists’ statements. Now they’re talking about translating themselves into images and words. There seems to be no stopping them. This too is a statement. Perhaps it is art too. Maybe even poetry. – Helen Ivory in plain text & George Szirtes in italics
Recordings from the print issue
50:50 Co( r )vid by Guinevere Clark & Rhys Trimble
Stir-Crazy Sirens: The Lockdown by Patrick Davidson Roberts & Kirsten Irving
I Dream of Houses All The Time by Jocelyn Page & Cath Drake
Links to contemporary collaborations
We’d like to share links to collaborations we were introduced to through the submissions to Magma 78 and others which have come to our attention through word of mouth. Please tweet @magmapoetry to add links to this page.
Paper Trail by Julia Bird & Mike Sims
Threads by Sandeep Parmar, Nisha Ramayya & Bhanu Kapil
Heath by Penelope Shuttle & John Greening
Places of Poetry, Mapping a Nation in Verse, ed. Andrew McRae.
A Confusion of Marys by Rupert Loydell & Sarah Cave
Letter of advice to Amy by Joseph Cornell by Roy Willingham & Mike Sims
To Have To Follow by Julie Maclean & Terry Quinn
Corrupted Poetry https://corruptedpoetry.com/corrupted-poetry-events famous for their regular events presenting poetry alongside art and sound content. Managed by the collective of writers Nic Stringer, Michelle Penn & Fiona Larkin.
Young Poets Network ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk brings under 25s together to collaborate. Great resource for any age though if you’re looking for inspirational ways to get started on a collaboration.
The Enemies Project http://www.theenemiesproject.com/camarade Contemporary poetry in collaboration, Innovative live literature & Performance art.
La Poèt’tie https://www.facebook.com/LaPoettie/
All Saints Sessions http://www.allsaintssessions.uk regular performance series hosted by Cheryl Moskowitz & Alastair Gavin. A fusion of poetry & sound with guest poets and musicians.
SJ Fowler & archive http://www.stevenjfowler.com
Saradha Soobrayen http://saradhasoobrayen.com is developing composite activist poetry with ‘Sounds Like Root Shock’, a poetic enquiry into the depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago.
Camilla Nelson https://www.singingapplepress.com
Philip Gross https://www.philipgross.co.uk/collaborations.php
Experimental collaborator Paul Hawkins https://eachwhat.com is, as they say, always under construction.
Helen Dewbery & Chaucer Cameron are poets, filmakers and the co-editors of Poetry Film Live: a new way with poetry, a webzine which supports collaboration and publishes poetry films. More on their partnership at Elephant’s Footprint Film Verse
Isobel Dixon http://www.isobeldixon.com/collaborations-1
Simon Barraclough https://simonbarraclough.com
Robert Sheppard https://robertsheppard.weebly.com/collaborations.html
Patricia Farrell https://patriciafarrell.weebly.com/collaborations.html
Performances / Audio
Two Metres https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEZth2OZP-4 Susie Campbell & Lucy Furlong. An adaptation for print appears in Magma 78.
Stitching Together https://bit.ly/33X8KNT by Malika Ndlovu & Josiane Smith
Outposted https://www.theoutpostedproject.com collaborative maps
Places of Poetry https://www.placesofpoetry.org.uk archive
Birds of Firle https://tanyashadrick.com/birds-of-firle/ is a word, sound and image project launched on New Year’s Day 2020 collecting responses including poems from 100 participants towards a limited edition release in 2021.
Publishers of Collaborations
If you’re a publisher interested in receiving submissions from poetic collaborations, let us know @magmapoetry
Hesterglock Press https://hesterglock.net/Authors
HVTN Press https://www.haverthorn.com
Poetry Film Live Poetry Film Live: a new way with poetry, a webzine which supports collaboration and publishes poetry films.
Please tweet @magmapoetry to add links to this page.
Buy the print issue of Magma 78 here.