Creative Insurgency

For the last year, I’ve been quietly calling in an artistic collaborator for my poetry, so I was ecstatic when my US-based friend, Cecilia, said yes to throwing her hat into the creative ring with mine. Even more ecstatic because we’d met in a collaborator’s pop-up group on Facebook at the start of the year.

Since late March, we have been producing photo-poems under the project name ‘Creative Insurgency’ and for more than 60 days now, we have created an original piece of digital poetry-art a day. It was our way of rebelling against the creative inertia we had both been suffering and it’s been a delight over the last few months to see our individual (and collective) confidence grow.

You can read the very first post here with more background to the project.

I’ve been working from a succession of bags of cut-up pages from Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler. Each bag contains 20 pages, cut into thirds, from which a chapter of poems are created by random draw (Cecilia defined a chapter as 14 photo-poems).

The first four chapters of poems were inspired by Cecilia’s photos and a random draw of two fragments to create the poems. Over time the words and the images came to mesh together in a symbiotic and seamless way.

We are currently working through Chapter 5 and the reverse process, where I’m providing the poem first (still from random draws of fragments) and Cecilia is then pairing the photo. It’s been a bit rough going, changing the process, and at this stage we are unsure if we will stick with it. Regardless of what we decide, I am glad we chose to explore the option. Working alongside Cecilia has broadened and deepened my appreciation of photography, not just as a visual medium (which has included learning colour palettes) but as a narrative engine and catalyst.

The digital part of the project is just the start, with physical cards to come in the future, with random drops of them across the world. For now, you can follow Creative Insurgency exclusively on Instagram.

Here is a taste of some of my favourite poems, in chapter order.

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Postcardia-cum-Poetica #75

Image is from Erich Hartmann, Paris (1982) via Magnum Photos. Words from If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.

Postcardia-cum-Poetica #74

Excited to break the seal on the newest pack of postcards, this time from Camilla D’Errico. This is Caught Pink Handed (2008) with words from Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night, A Traveler.

Postcardia-cum-Poetica #73

This is the last of the trial cards I made for my postcard tarot readings: image cut from a magazine, with words from Colum McCann’s Thirteen Ways of Looking.

Postcardia-cum-Poetica #72

The second of my postcard treats was a box of 100 cards from Magnum Photos. This is René Burri’s 1964 photo of dead lotus leaves on Kunming Lake in the grounds of the summer palace near Beijing. Words from Women Who Run With The Wolves.

Postcardia-cum-Poetica #70

Last week I comfort bought stacks of postcards. There’s possibly only one other person I know who would engage in such a practice (and who is likely to receive all of said postcards across the next year!!)

I had fallen out of the ritual of sitting down on a Tuesday afternoon and doing a postcard. So, I treated myself to some shiny new ones.

This is Long Yak (2008) from Mark Ryden. Words from Women Who Run With The Wolves (these were the snippets that fell out when I tipped one bag into another bag of fragments!!)