Hit the Ode x UniSlam Party (The Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome, 1 Feb 2019)

reviewed by Hannah Ledlie

Hit the Ode was launched a decade ago in The Victoria, a popular pub in Birmingham city center, conveniently based near New Street Station. These days, however, the poetry night fills out the Patrick Studio of the Birmingham Hippodrome, but its mission remains the same: to provide a platform for open mic poetry performers, alongside three headline guests. These headliners offer a sample of regional, national and international poetry talent. It’s this last element that really sets Hit the Ode apart. The night’s founder and host, Bohdan Piasecki, commented,

‘When I started, it was one of the very few that had a budget. It was the only one in the UK which had an international guest as part of its format.’

This commitment to bringing audiences work from further afield was especially realised this month, as Hit the Ode collaborated with UniSlam, the UK’s largest team slam and poetry summit. The Hit the Ode x UniSlam Party brought together not only a stellar lineup of six features from across the globe, but close to one hundred student poets from across the country. The spirit of collaboration was palpable throughout the evening. Poets due to compete against each other the next morning came together to enjoy Bohdan’s hilarious ‘emotional warmups’ and showed immense support for everyone on the open mic.

Standout open micers included Jack MacMillan from team Strathclyde, who began by offering an audience member the choice, ‘Dog or Christmas?!’. Fortunately, ‘dog’ was selected, leading to a character poem which was laugh-out-loud funny. MacMillan delivered lines with a charming intensity, like a child revealing some very serious epiphanies:

‘Dogs have excellent hearing, on the account of being dogs… I don’t think dogs like the things we think they like, like us.’

UniSlam alumnus and prelim host at this year’s competition, Kieran Hayes, gave a similarly hilarious performance with his ‘rhyming CV’, gifting us with what might be my favourite line of the entire weekend: ‘I’m so good at photoshop, call me Adobe-Wan Kenobi.’

The first of the headliners, Bibi June, kicked off their set with a piece about bilingualism. Based in Glasgow but originally from Amsterdam, June alternated between Dutch and English and urged the audience, ‘If you have the chance, learn another fucking language’. The piece fluctuated from rhythmic to plainspoken, celebratory to cautioning, as June both honoured the ‘depths of other languages’ and reminded us of the oppressive history of English. Powerful lines like ‘to some people, English still sounds like a whip’ drew sighs and clicks from the audience.

Next to the mic was Antosh Wojcik, a poet who earlier that day had spoken eloquently on a UniSlam panel discussing current issues facing the poetry community. One of the key topics discussed at the event regarded the line between empathising with another perspective and appropriating someone’s experiences. While Wojcik and the rest of the panel agreed it is inappropriate to exploit another individual or community’s struggles for the sake of scoring points or signalling one’s own virtue, Wojcik admitted that he frequently writes about his sister and her struggles with substance abuse and mental illness. He explained that his intention is not to exploit her experiences but to understand them, and that he always tries to locate himself as a character within his poems about her, so that he can be held accountable for his writing. It was encouraging to see that despite being a world-renowned performer, Wojcik still interrogates his motivations for writing about other people’s experiences and is welcoming of further discussion on the topic. His poem at Hit the Ode, ‘A Stoner’s Autopsy of an Automated Dinosaur’, was a wonderfully personal and delicate exploration of his relationship with his sister, demonstrating that an awareness of the politics behind poetry makes for better work.

The third headliner, Vanessa Kisuule, was predictably brilliant; her final poem, ‘Last Night’, was a highlight of the whole evening. Reading from a copy of her stunning collection, A Recipe for Sorcery, I hardly noticed Kisuule had a book in her hand until the end of the set, such was her stage presence. After a particularly impactful line concerning female toilets in clubs –

‘You can take a few minutes to fall apart in here. No questions asked.’

– Kisuule paused to jokingly ask the men in the audience whether the same camaraderie can be found at urinals. There are few poets who can transition from solemnity to comedy and back again so effortlessly, and keep the audience hanging on every word.

Alisha Kadir, the regional poet of the night, represented Birmingham superbly. After opening with a song that demonstrated her talents as a musician, as well as a writer, Kadir delivered multiple poems that ingeniously played with form. I was mesmerised by ‘I watched the sun rise and fall today’, an intricate construction built from a simple repeating phrase which gradually changed and fragmented. When it finally dawned on me that the refrain was altering towards ‘she watched her son rise and fall today’, the air was knocked out of me.

I was particularly excited to see Caleb Femi, as several friends had recommended his work to me, but I hadn’t previously had a chance to see him perform. Femi surpassed all my expectations, his laid-back performance style allowing the quality of his writing to take centre stage. A highlight of the set was a new poem which responded to a frustrating experience with the press. ‘I was all over the papers, well, one paper,’ he explained. What followed was a quiet, steady, but emotionally charged piece, reclaiming an experience which had been manipulated by the media.

The final headliner to take the stage was Melissa Lozada-Olivia. Based in New York, Lozada-Olivia is known internationally for viral Button Poems, including ‘Like Totally Whatever’ and ‘If I Got Paid For All My Emotional Labour’. While these are undeniably strong works (the former won the 2015 National Poetry Slam Championship), I got the sense that they are very much designed for competition. They are fast-paced (to fit into the three-minute limit of slams), feature carefully-rehearsed movements, and crescendo in volume towards their finales. I would speculate that, having moved on to more experimental projects which are unconfined by the slam format, Lozada-Olivia may have slightly lost the emotional attachment to her older, finely-choreographed pieces. Her strongest works at the Hit the Ode were newer ones, where she seemed more connected to the words and performed more freely. Between poems she commented,

‘I’d been falling out of love with poetry but this night’s made me fall in love with it again.’

Credit goes to Hit the Ode’s producer, Aliyah Hasinah, for curating such a wonderful night of spoken word. It was enough to make a seasoned poet fall back in love with poetry, and enough to make a theatre full of stressed students (readying to compete in a national poetry slam) relax and enjoy themselves. As Bohdan joked during his introduction, UniSlam is a competition which ‘does a fantastic job of making everyone forget it’s a competition’, and Hit the Ode played a great role in sustaining this important illusion.

Photo credit: Tyrone Lewis / Process Productions 

Threads by Sandeep Parmar, Nisha Ramayya & Bhanu Kapil

– Reviewed by Becky Varley–Winter

In Threads a collaborative pamphlet on poetry and race from Sandeep Parmar, Bhanu Kapil and Nisha Ramayya – Parmar argues that the history of English lyric poetry is that of an exclusive and excluding club, shaped by colonial violence:

Its border guards are the literary gatekeepers of shared assumptions about experience, language and tradition.

When Parmar returned to England, the country of her birth, she grew aware of this “sovereignty” of English lyric as a “dominant poetic mode”, which “spoke from within a kind of integrated knowingness and belonging.” Confronting this way of writing, she felt herself become “an embodied other, an artefact vitrined alongside those with whom I shared a passing resemblance or some common history”.

The simplest definition of lyric poetry is that a lyric is a short poem, expressing emotion, using a first-person ‘I’, set in what Parmar calls an “epiphanic present” (as opposed to ‘dramatic’ or ‘epic’ poems, which might speak through various characters, or inhabit a longer, slower narrative time). In practice, this definition doesn’t completely hold true: ‘lyric’, ‘dramatic’ and ‘epic’ modes of poetry can and often do overlap (Samuel Beckett’s ‘Not–I‘, for example, could be heard as both dramatic and lyric, centred on a lone voice), and the seemingly straightforward definition of a ‘short personal poem’ doesn’t match the range of texts that ‘lyric’ is used to describe. Lyric poems were originally sung to the lyre, and retain some association with music and song. Regardless of its parameters, critics have argued that lyric, at least as it is traditionally imagined, is too dominant within contemporary poetry. Mark Jeffreys describes the situation of poetry as a “lyric ghetto”, as if poetry itself became a marginalised community after the novel (and, later, film and television) took over as primary narrative forms (Natasha Saje discusses this in Windows and Doors, p. 176).

Threads both critiques and challenges this narrowness, alternating and conversing between three voices. It may well constitute a ‘lyric essay’, like Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which narrates through a you which places the reader into the speaker’s position, rather than a more conventional lyric ‘I’ which speaks without pulling the reader inside its own voice. Sophie Collins’ Small White Monkeys, which interrogates feelings of shame in response to sexual violence, could also be described as a lyric essay – these texts are predominantly written in prose, but focus on the politics of personal emotions and experiences, particularly those that are felt to be taboo or dangerous to express. Threads is comparable to these works, both formally and politically. Formally, it moves between poetry and prose; politically, this generic indeterminacy mirrors its concern with the shifting borders of national identity and personal identity, particularly in the feeling of living between several cultures, never quite being able to go invisible or unnoticed. Ramayya describes feeling a certain solidarity with other people of colour, moving to sit together in predominantly-white rooms, without feeling that they necessarily have anything else in common.

Parmar’s ‘Lyric Violence, The Nomadic Subject and the Fourth Space’, written in dialogue with Bhanu Kapil, is a vital criticism of the reading of lyric poems as contextless, ‘universal’ utterances, outside of history. ‘Universal’ status, Parmar argues, has historically been applied to writing by white men, while writing by women and people of colour was marked ‘other’, demanding context for full understanding. “To my mind,” Parmar writes:

it is impossible to consider the lyric without fully interrogating its inherent promise of universality, its coded whiteness.

I wish there were some key examples at this point, if only to make the argument more vivid: which lyric poems particularly prompted this realisation? Presumably, all of them – that’s the point – and perhaps a sea of whiteness doesn’t demand anything more specific, being assumed the default, barely needing to be pointed out.

Nisha Ramayya, in her essay ‘Threads’, suggests that Parmar’s own reading of Homer’s epic Odyssey at various points during her essay might be one “marker of class and classicism”:

Perhaps reading the Odyssey is a way into assimilation, to certain white places, to certain European cultures; perhaps after solving the riddle and performing the feat, the person of colour is permitted to make her way out.

These problems of representation and inclusion are starkly visible in university syllabi, and Threads often seems to take aim squarely at academics, who must define, willingly or not, a literary ‘canon’ based on what they teach their students. The scope of what many students encounter is at best, limited. “Do you have knowledge of Sanskrit or Arabic? Do you have knowledge of the history of British India, of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh? Have you formed an estimate of their value?” Ramayya writes. She proposes a “tantric poetics” of weaving and reciprocity, which the poems in this pamphlet, by Sandeep Parmar and Bhanu Kapil, correspond to. Their poems relate to the partition of India and Pakistan, and the violence and displacement of this experience; they address family history, cultural memory, and what Kapil describes as the “ghosts and monsters of our stories”.

These histories are always seen double: rather than being entirely familiar, they are ghostly and haunting and monster-like even to Kapil’s speaker (‘monster’ means to show, the monstrous being that which is conspicuous within its surroundings, and thus only safe if kept hidden). Kapil compares memory to a well in the middle of writing, which remains dark even though certain things can be drawn up from it. She writes from a “fourth space” characterised by border-crossing and migration, and by an internal knowledge that her speaker, her “I”, can’t quite take safety for granted. In her sequence titled ‘Avert the Icy Feeling’, she describes visiting the house of a comfortably well-off white American poet:

I like the poet, she’s super nice, but I can’t cope with the unbroken trust – in poetry, in the economics of a household, in family life – that circulates through every part of what she is telling me.

She does not feel safe. She puts her head down on the table and weeps. This feeling of precarity and broken trust is partly to do with race; it is also to do with money, and with the increased fear and risk of writing without inherited wealth. Threads should be read by anyone teaching lyric poetry, but it would be a shame if only academics read it, as the questions it advances relate to the daily writing of poetry too, and to the situation of Britain now (Ramayya writes: “Diversify the Curriculum. Shut Down Detention Centres. Decolonisation Now. Freedom Now”). To me, the three voices in this pamphlet make a compelling case for a kind of lyricism that is not authoritarian, but questioning; the lyric voice as a thread woven among many others. I’m tempted to say that lyric poems have never been universal utterances – that whatever we mean by ‘universal’ and ‘transcendent’ meaning, it is a mirage created by the dominant culture – that poems communicate through fiercely living particulars – but that would be exactly the kind of universal conclusion that I am trying to avoid.

Past Time, (Rideout and inmates of HMP Hewell, Redditch, 19 July 2018)

reviewed by Stella Backhouse

I could, I suppose, belabour this review with navel-gazing observations about how we are all prisoners of something; and that the parallel rises in, on the one hand, obesity, and on the other, eating disorders and food intolerances could be taken as evidence that for many of us, our prison is dietary. I could do that, but I’m not going to because to do so would be to entirely miss the point of Past Time, and the utter joyousness of its performance by a cast of serving prisoners at HMP Hewell.

Billed as “an exploration of the history of prison food”, Past Time was created by Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) as part of the Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850 – 2000 project. Commissioned by the University of Warwick and funded by the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, HMP Hewell and the University of Warwick, it was researched and devised in an astonishing twelve days by the prisoners themselves, facilitated by Rideout’s production team.

Taking the form of snapshots of the life and cuisine of British prisons at various points over a hundred and fifty year period, this was a performance that had it all: satire, laughs, music, mime, audience participation, actual food to try – and an intriguing insight into shifting attitudes in the unseen society beyond the prison walls and their impact on those behind them.

And it was quite a journey. From the mid-nineteenth century, we witnessed prisoners subjected to humiliating régimes, inhumane punishments and starvation diets so lacking in protein that they routinely caught insects to beef up their gruel. Feigning illness to gain access to the marginally better food of the prison hospital was also common.

From the early twentieth century onwards, there were gradual improvements in conditions. Documented in the piece were the accidental role of Victorian fraudster Jabez Spencer Balfour – sentenced to twelve years in Portland Gaol – in the introduction of rations tailored to individual prisoners’ requirements, and the move to healthier food grown on prison farms. In the final set piece, the prisoners, watching England’s infamous penalty shootout in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup on an imaginary TV, placed bets of biscuits and packets of crisps on which player would score.

But in this case, it really was more about the taking part than it was about the winning. There were some terrific individual performances, but what shone through most clearly was the gusto with which the men approached it as an ensemble, the relish with which they took on roles such as judge, prison warder and governor, and their almost-disbelieving delight in making the audience laugh, for example with the satirising of well-known TV advertising campaigns:

This is not just any old rabbit, slung into a pot with a couple of manky carrot peelings and served to you with sod all else. This is HMP rabbit!

And they may be incidental points, but what was also very obvious was firstly, the enduring importance of camaraderie amongst the men for getting through a stretch, and secondly, their intuitive knack for language and performance. In a piece described by Public engagement Officer Flo Swann as “polished improv” rather than formally scripted, the audience was carried along by the men’s phrasing, body language, and comic timing.

I don’t know what I was expecting from a play put on by serving prisoners. But I don’t think it was to see one of the funniest and most enthusiastic shows I’ve seen in a while. At the end of the performance, each man was permitted to say a few words about what participating in it had meant to him. It was clear that for all of them, it had meant a lot. And that says much more than anything I can say here about the magical power of theatre.

 

Image by Natalie Willatt

Saboteur Awards 2018: Spotlight on the Best Collaborative Work Shortlist

The Ambassador’s Reception by Interrobang!? and Poetry AF

The Ambassador’s Reception

There are three things you should know about The Ambassador’s Reception:

1. It is renowned for its exquisite taste.
2. The guests are being spoiled.
3. One of them is a murderer.

Poetry AF and Interrobang!? (winner of the 2017 Saboteur award for Best Regular Night) present The Ambassador’s Reception – a murder mystery in spoken word form, set in the extended Ferrero Rocher universe.

This is a place where the suspects accuse and defend themselves in verse and prose, as the audience look on as if guests at an ambassadorial event. The dress code is formal. The event is immersive. The entrées are deadly.

Featuring some of the brightest talent in the Scottish literary scene, The Ambassador’s Reception was inspired by the ancient art of flyting, crap Nineties advertising, and a really intense game of Cluedo.

Poetry AF are Andrew Blair and Ross McCleary. They put out podcasts and do weird poetry shows.

Interrobang?! was founded by Ricky Monahan Brown and Beth Cochrane. They put on excellent poetry shows but not as weird as Poetry AF’s poetry shows
Why voters think they should win:
This was, quite simply, the most beautiful one-off poetry night I’ve ever been to. A pure joy to experience.
it was the weirdest and greatest spoken word show i have ever seen

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta and Ben Connors

Dean Atta and Ben Connors

Poet Dean Atta and visual artist Ben Connors used The Black Flamingo, a metaphor used within Atta’s work to explore identities of queer people of colour, as the starting point for this collaboration.

Responding to both their own conversations and those with visitors, they created new works in the space over the course of the residency, exploring identity through poetry and visual art. Through the duration of the open studio, an expanding mural populated the walls and Connors illustrated Atta’s poems which were compiled into a zine alongside contributions from audience members.

The project launched with an opening event featuring live performances from Dean Atta, Travis Alabanza and Lasana Shabazz. On days when the pair were not present in the space, audiences responded to a series of creative prompts in the space. The Black Flamingo Open Studio culminated with a closing event on Saturday 27 May.

As part of The Black Flamingo Open Studio, we invited the public to submit work exploring the theme of identity for inclusion in The Black Flamingo zine. We especially welcomed contributions from queer people of colour. Contributors to the zine include Keith Jarrett, Lasana Shabazz, Phoenix Fagbutt and Travis Alabanza, alongside a curated selection of submissions from the public.

Follow Dean Atta on Twitter here, and Ben Connors here

Why voters think it deserves to win:

They work with vital issues relevant to marginalised groups in society, and they do it beautifully!

This was a dynamic collaboration and important collaboration, creating fantastic new work and bringing important voices not often heard or represented on such a national platform as Tate Britain

Experimental Words by Dan Simpson and Dr Sam Illingworth

Sam Illingsworth and Dan Simpson. Photo by Richard Grebby

Experimental Words is a cross-disciplinary science communications-spoken word poetry project. In 2017 we worked with 20 scientists and 20 poets in Edinburgh, Manchester, London, and Canterbury to create 20 new micro-performances. The result? A diverse display of rhyme, rhythm and reason.

Follow Dr Sam Illingworth on Twitter here, and Dan Simpson here.

Watch the intro here

Why voters think it should win:

A truly illuminating example of how poetry can be used to inform, educate, and entertain.

Brilliant, hilarious and moving performances pairing unlikely partners

Heelster-gowdie by Stuart A. Paterson and Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

‘Beul-fo-bhonn/heelster-gowdie’ is a tri-lingual publication across Gaelic, Scots and English – the culmination of a two year collaboration between these two excellent poets. It forms volume 2 of Tapsalteerie’s Biggin Brigs series, which promotes poetic connections across those three languages. The pamphlet is designed to be read from both sides: Stuart A Paterson’s original poems and their translations start from one side, while Marcas Mac an Tuairneir’s original poems and their translations start from the other.

Stuart A Paterson is a widely-published and award winning Scottish poet and performer. Most recently BBC Scotland’s poet in residence, Stuart has gone from strength-to-strength since Tapsalteerie published his collection “Aye” in 2016, cementing his position as one of the foremost Scots language poets of his generation. He won Saboteur Award for Best Pamphlet in 2016 for ‘Border Lines’.

Marcas Mac an Tuairneir is an award-winning Gaelic writer of poetry, prose, drama and journalism, hailing from York. He is the Gaelic editor for Poets’ Republic magazine and has two full-length poetry collections behind him: Deò in 2013, and Lus na Tùise in 2016.

You can follow Stuart A Paterson on Twitter here.

Why voters think they should win:

Two incredibly talented poets, working with two beautiful indigenous languages – a treat and a thing to treasure

As this help to keep the Gaelic & Scots languages alive & contemporary

Inheritance by Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris (Mother’s Milk Books)

Inheritance, is a poetry diet about womanhood, identity, motherhood and marriage. Being a mother can be incredible in many ways: awe-inspiring and tender, whilst also anxiety-inducing and isolating. This collection is about finding a sense of self when your body and mind are both ragged.

The historical connection between the female personae also attempts to articulate how powerful sisterhood can be; how thereaputic and restorative.

Ruth Stacey is a PhD student working on an imagined poetic memoir of the artist Pamela Colman Smith. Her collaborative pamphlet, Inheritance was published by Mother’s Milk Books in 2017. Stacey’s debut collection, Queen, Jewel, Mistress, was published by Eyewear, 2015. Her poems have appeared in recent poetry anthologies: #metoo (Fairacre Press), Writing Motherhood (Seren) and Hwaet! (Bloodaxe). She works as a lecturer at the University of Worcester and designs the poetry covers at V.Press Poetry.

Katy Wareham Morris is a lecturer in media and culture, with research interests in digital literature, play and identity. She is also a writer, having had her poetry published in literary magazines and journals, and also webzines. Her first collection, Cutting the Green Ribbon is being published by Hesterglock Press in May 2918.

You can follow Katy Wareham Morris on Twitter here, and Ruth Stacey here or on her website.

Why voters think they should win:

A collection of poignant synchronicity evoking the maternal tenderness and physical brutality of motherhood on the heart and body. The honesty and originality of the poems work individually and collectively very well indeed. A memorable and timeless work.

Excellent collaboration combining sharp wit & dirty home truths

Um Poema Errante / A Wandering Poem by Christian Marques & Angharad Hengyu Owen

Reviewed by Jennifer Edgecombe

Um Poema Errante /A Wandering Poem is a bilingual, English-Portuguese collaborative project by poet Christian Marques and graphic artist Angharad Hengyu Owen, tracing an eight-month journey across Europe and Asia. I am reviewing the ‘zine edition’, which is a 32-page, smaller-than-A5 booklet published by the Colliding Lines collective. This accompanies a larger, 200 page production, available on the author’s website, which looks like a thick, glossy, white block of pages – more art-object than book. It is a tantalising, curious project to unfold and review.

The zine edition forces me to jump straight in – through the titleless title page and sparse cover – to the first poem, with the English translation on the left page and the Portuguese translation on the right. The first words read ‘Acknowledgement / Nice’ before leading straight into the first line of the first poem. I do not speak Portuguese but can establish that ‘Reconhecimento’ is the mirrored translation of ‘Acknowledgement’. There appears to be a gap where ‘Nice’ should be. A quick flick through the zine shows that the word ‘Nice’ appears again twice more at the top of two further pages, seemingly without a translation (it may be the place in which the poem is located at the time?). This gap in expectation introduces the rule that Angharad’s design is not simply a mirror of Christian’s work, but is also an aesthetic interpretation of the text itself, just as Christian’s original poems are an effective translation of his experiences while travelling.

Presenting two languages within the text also introduces themes of transition and the migration of subjects. In an online video, Christian notes that the translation led to interesting changes of expression, just as Angharad’s design leads to new meanings surfacing: ‘everything has an effect on everything else’. 

The opening poem, typed as formatted below, contains a pleasing use of white space, creating a secondary poem on the page. Through her use of space, Angharad creates a ‘vertical word tunnel’ using Christian’s words, and applies another layer of meaning and interpretation to the text. The base poem reads:

 

A man, found himself being without knowing

 why              he was

 

         And in an instant, his horizon

             blurred

       out, could no longer be

distinguished.

 

Angharad’s use of space creates this secondary poem:

 

being

he was

 

instant

blurred

no longer

 

I love this ‘poem within a poem’ technique, for it demonstrates the unique partnership between word and design that this book promotes.

Within experimental/design-based poetry, it is important that the layout is relevant to the subject matter. This perhaps doesn’t work as well in the poem on page 10: the layout overtakes meaning and becomes isolating. The English translation looks like a tower block to the left of the page, with the Portuguese text on its right hand side. It runs down the tower’s edge, set out as a more traditional form. The white text on a black background makes it look like a tower at night, with the white words symbolising room lights. The words in the ‘tower’ are spaced out to create this effect:

 

T h e

c       i       t      y

h    i     d     e    s

 

The English translation features the phrase ‘The city hides secrets / alchemical / esoteric / in the transfigured geometries of the old houses’, which justifies the poem’s concrete design. However, the rest of the poem contains quite beautiful imagery which I feel gets lost inside this stylistic form, such as, ‘the wood rots with a wicked appearance / its smell spreads stories’. Personally, I find this example too technically Concrete and gain more of an effect from reading the Portuguese version. Having to establish what the words are through the spaced out design slows me down and therefore distracts from the original wording.

The strength of this book lies in its layers of interpretation between the word, the page and the reader. The poem might not have been designed to look like a tower at night at all. What I distinguish as text in the shape of the moon or a fingerprint, or even a ‘word tunnel’, might not have been the intended effect. This successful collaboration leads to a transcendence of experience for the reader, and is highly effective as both a collection of poetry and a piece of art.