Open field poetics

There are elements of creative work that involve instant reaction and quick adaptation to the environment. Making artistic work can often be a dialogue of call and response that builds rhythm and a collaborative existence between people, materials, technology of whatever is inhabiting the space at the same time. 

For me this dialogue is a constantly evolving exchange, building and dismantling, morphing and rejigging repeatedly. I was reminded of this process a few years ago when I attended a creative writing masterclass lead by Iain Sinclair. Iain is a writer and filmmaker inspired by pyschogeology, 1960’s London and the Beat Generation Poets and for me, his masterclass delivery was as creatively inspired as the topics he was discussing. 

Below are my notes, responses and key moments written in the style of them Beat Generation Poets and left unedited.             

The talk had a kind of rhythm. Navigating through remnants of post-war East London and settling in a mist of preprinted captions and quotes that read like sweeping lists of poetic consciousness. The delivery perfectly synchronised with the material. Making sense in another time. And now. Jack Kerouac captured episodes from reality that were ‘enriched and high octane.’ Sinclair says on Kerouac he was an ‘inspired celebrator of the ordinary.‘ He coughs. Swiss American photographer Robert Frank would capture things spontaneously. He clears his throat. No framing. Just the energy of the moment. He wanted to make stuff on his own terms. Had the patience to wait for the time to click. Like choreographic process, being ruthless and keeping only the bare essentials. Further talk of the Beat Generation; not just drugs, drink and liberation. Black mountain poets. Charles Olson. An era to artistically advance its predecessors. Time taken and delicately captured. Things that are happening on the edge, that might become something. The ephemerality of live performance. Ginsberg comes into topic – at one point seeking wisdom and change. Road trip with Peter Orlovsky. Radio beamed circumnavigation. Scribbling ‘I don’t do anything schematic, its relevant data that comes into the landscape.’ Or something like that. Happenings reduced to language. William Burroughs calls it a virus-language, contracted by the use of images. David Lynch. Bob Dylan. Andy Warhol. We are all creating an image vine, and no image is happening in isolation. A branch is a word. So what are the leaves? Photography, yeah it really is like capturing a future that is there already. Manipulating time. Manipulating image. Manipulating time. I talk about the discovery of authenticity in improvised performance. Capturing a moment as it leaves, and leaving a moment you want to capture. Dance. Movement phrases. Cut up like film editing. Put words together that make a different kind of sense. Sinclair on Burroughs ‘he exists as shadow and substance‘…image melts into further image….image fights sound. It does. Which do you see first? Can you see something different if you look again and again and again and again and again. Originality lies in repetition. A photograph used to be the material of a process. A negotiation with light. Eyes shift across the room. Various questions about opinion and London and questions for no reason. Everything is instantaneous, too quick. Society has become cannibalistic. Novel into film, into second adaptation, into musical. Now what? A published book goes from on-screen type up to carbon copy print-up. Process. Too Quick. Disengaging. Movement and muscle memory. Writing with the body. Physicality of language, again. We clap.

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