bout bloody time
this is a strange one to write/ its a piece of news/ ostensibly that means its current/ but its mostly historical/ its a project/ its a project thats finished now/ which is strange because it was a project that was very alivefeeling/ now theres a fullstop on it//
Lenni Sanders and I have released our EP, bout bloody time, on bandcamp.
And it’s there for you to download, for £3, if you want. Or stream for free (which is what I usually do with bandcamp albums if I’m honest). And I’m very proud of it, actually.
theres a how/ more than theres a why/ to our writing this/ maybe that makes it shallow/ but we still did it//
In June 2014 me and Lenni were invited, by Steve Dearden of The Writing Squad to perform at Manchester Literature Festival. And we said yes. And then we had to figure out how on earth we’d come up with a forty-minute set. But first we threw worrying aside and did what we knew we could do. We wrote. Only that’s a lie because first we talked about writing. Or how we’d write the thing, because that was our main concern. We got given the why. The why was handed to us: we had a gig: we had the timeslot: we had to fill that. The hard part, or at least one of them, needing a reason to write, was handled already.
If you make stuff you’ll know how terrifying and paralysing free reign can be. And just knowing we had forty minutes our reign couldn’t have been much freer. That’s like handing someone seventy years and saying ‘live a life’. That’s pressure and fear. That’s why babies cry.
the first step then was to restrict ourselves/ give ourselves a form/ so we couldnt wander too far from the path/ so that we actually had a path/ so that we had the how/ lessened the pressure with rules//
We’d written together before. Less experimented. But our first proper collaborative writing form experiment went well. It’s here for all the world to see. And we wanted to continue. To do some more new. Because if we’re writing let’s make it an exploration.
We picked emails. Because we were living in the same house on the same page but on different timelines and in different places. And we’d always have access to emails. We’d never end up being too far from our laptops, even if I was in London for a week and Lenni was in the Lakes.
And we resolved to write. And really, those were our two rules: everything we wrote for the project we shared with each other in emails, and we kept writing. We went back and forth. Every new email was a challenge to write another in response. And it worked.
And we ended up with a lot of words.
I have a word document called MLF raw 260814, which is the content of all those emails copied and pasted out.
Which is 5640 words.
so then we had that/ the raw material/ and it was very raw/ not a single piece/ tens of seperate unrelated poems/ some repeated imagery/ echoes/ of mood/ of ideas/ less a stream of consciousness than just a consciousness/ waiting to be poured out into a stream//
we needed to figure out how to pour it/ so we printed it out/ got our hands on some scissors/ which is where i think the real experimentation started//
and the point ive not stressed enough yet was how much this was alive/ this was a living piece of poetry we were making/ this was a consciousness/ reading through that pile of cut up poems/ mashed about/ separated/ stirred around/ some paragraphs/ some single words/ lines/ dates/ addresses/ bits of speech/ bits of thought/ story/ history/ with every last bit of it sharing some part of the same existence/ it was like lenni and me had created some shared consciousness/ every bit lenni/ every bit me/ god it felt fantastic//
And gradually, again over emails, we pieced it together. Our first run through together actually reading the full script aloud was in a Wetherspoons on London Rd, Manchester. The next morning, we performed at Manchester Central Library as part of Manchester Literature Festival. It was all really great.
Then there were talks from Steve about getting the piece recorded.
We said yes.
We recorded in January, and now we have the EP. Which is out and we’re at the end of history.
weve put a full stop on it now/ except we havent/ were talking about touring it/ making a book/chapbook/paper record of sorts/ merch/ actual physical objects bearing the sounds from our mouths/ tapes/vinyl/cds/ all that jazz/ despite all that the piece is finished/ we arent writing it anymore/ so its not dead/ but its not growing anymore/ its left home/ we can invite it round for supper sometime/ tell acquaintances about it at parties/ hope they want to buy it/ which breaks the analogy/ hope they want to listen to it/ and that they will/ this frozen finished object that weve sent out into the world isnt done with/ its still there/ if its on the internet now i can only assume it will be forever//
and ill miss the living and growing of it/ and ill be proud of what we made//
And it’s ok though, I’m making other things.
Sincere thanks to Steve, Danny, Jennie, MLF, Fuzzy, Manchester, Chapel FM, and everyone who helped and encouraged.