The Bits That Disappear on the Way
A guest blog post from Sarah James, poet.
The first time I looked at Coventry ring road on a map, it made me think of a lock and key. This rich, if not particularly unusual, metaphor was one idea in my application to be one of the Disappear Here poets.
But like the city itself, the project collaboration process is as much about the things that disappear along the way as those that remain, concretely or in any other material form.
And, if Coventry is rich with history that has left its marks on the city, it is also alive with new developments – just as the Disappear Here poetry collaboration process has been.
Talking with my filmmaker collaborator, Ben Cook, we bounced thoughts and ideas, until some common themes rose to the surface. Elements of time, the seen and the hidden, looping and sound all feature in our background work for the project. I also immersed myself in researching various aspects of the city’s layout, history and geography, as well as spending some time simply soaking up the atmosphere. (The short piece of video research below gives a small taster of this.)
All of these aspects of inspiration have combined to spark poems and scripts that feel far more exciting than some of my earlier protype ideas. As with the city’s history and skyline, many of those elements encountered along the collaboration route that haven’t actively made it into the final pieces are still present in them either as traces, or through their absence. Like the city and ring road, the poetryfilms are also still a work in progress, changing and adapting along the way.
The mesostic poem below is one of many discarded poem drafts. It also contains teasers for two of the poetryfilms that we are now working on. The poem, created using an online generator, takes the current title of one poetryfilm as the spine word running through the mesostic, while the actual words are automatically selected from the text of another poem created for the project.
Although this poem didn’t make it into our final choices for the actual films, one of the things that appeals to me about the form is the way the spine word runs through, like the River Sherbourne through Coventry. Its layout also reminds me of a road-map or bus-route. In this sense, perhaps it’s one map of the collaborative journey. There are others that could be made of this process though, each highlighting different aspects of the city, ring road and collaboration.