Friday, January 6, 2023

collaborating for #change


Greetings, Poetry folk!  I do hope we've all had the winter holiday time we needed most, and if anything got in the way (cough cough Covid) I hope we were able to take something unexpected and positive from it.

It's the first Friday of the month, and the INKLINGS are writing to a challenge set by me.  As you may know I was playing with ideas of #change from the end of October through the middle of December, and then I was a walking talking bundle of #change--but I'm not done with my little art project, and now this challenge can become part of it.



I asked the group to "Write a poem which weighs the pros and cons of #change. Here are some poems for inspiration: 

For extra fun, use any form, but consider starting in one form and gradually transitioning in the course of the poem to a quite different form." 


This was perhaps overchallenging for the time of year, so in our meeting on Sunday we changed gears and decided to do something Live and Unscripted. Mary Lee reminded us of the Poetry Sisters' Exquisite Corpse experiment and we did the same, passing one line at a time through the Zoom chat until we had six lines. They looked like this:


And then we gave ourselves permission to use the lines as raw material, which is #change and transformation in itself. I will be so fascinated to see what 5 other ways come of this more-than-a-parlor-game! Here's mine, heavily influenced by a poem you may also have been grabbed by at Poem-a-Day back in July, "Do not trust the eraser" by Rosamund S. King. 




Before I link you to the other INKLINGS and to our host today, let me mention something that I've been noodling on for a couple of years know how a musical artist makes a song, and then not too long after or even simultaneously other versions and remixes of the song, "featuring" this or that other artist, start to appear? (Not to mention all kinds of musical parody pieces; thank you Randy Rainbow.) Also, of course, jazz.


I've been wondering how that process could work for poetry. I do see more and more collaborations happening, co-authoring, and I know that we all sometimes write "after" another poem or poet--but what if that approach became normal and common as it is in popular music? What if we wrote expecting that someone would read our poem and call us up to say "Hey, I have a great idea for remixing that 3rd stanza," or if we wrote a poem like mine above and then texted over to Rosamund and said, "Thanks for your influence; would you like to get together and jam, make this into something alive?" And by this stage I'm wondering if the real problem is not "can it work?" but "can a tradition of precious artistic ownership give way to a practice of generous artistic collaborative process?" I'd love to know anyone's thoughts on this, or if this is totally happening somewhere that I'm just not plugged into.


Happy New Year and thanks to CatherINKLING Flynn, who is rounding us up at Reading to the Core, and here's where you can see the rest of the takes on our 6 changeable lines! 


Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche



  1. I have enjoyed reading all the variations of your challenge and the resulting exquisite corpse. I love the idea of generous collaboration in poetry (and in many parts of life).

  2. First of all, your unusually-placed punctuation makes so much more sense to me than Rosamund's. I love that you taught me how to read your poem with the placement of capital letters and punctuation. I was in collaboration with you as I read!

    Your last stanza is my favorite. "Move.../the stones, use the stones." Yes!

    And as for your question, I'm not sure if "the practice of generous artistic collaborative process" is happening somewhere beyond Poetry Friday and our various critique/collaboration groups, but I did like what Seth Godin had to say in his daily blog post today: ( "The only thing that allows creators to create is the work that came before. When we create, we add to that work so that others can do the same." Not quite what you are proposing, but reminding us that we're all in this together.

  3. Sometimes when you mix up a poem, I say, "Huh?" Then "Oh, duh!" The twisting of lines like the changing of leaves in the wind reminds me that poetry is playful.

  4. How wonderful! It's like a poetry party here. Yes! Let's remix and riff and have fun with the words, lines, stanzas. I love how all the commands in this poem come down to, "use the stones." Somehow it's beautiful and made me smile at the same time. Perfect.

  5. I love reading all of the variations of these poems and what you all started with! Amazing!

  6. This was fun to read about, Heidi (and other Inklings). Thanks for sharing your collaborative process. I think it takes a certain mindset and group to make collaboration work out for the best. Carol from The Apples in My Orchard.

  7. Last first: You absolutely are already collaborating as witnessed by your Inklings exquisite corpse poem! You're smack in the middle of it!

    Next, yes, I love the idea of collaborating - a poetry sandbox where everyone brings their pail and shovel and builds together. Maybe a padlet with a monthly prompt?

    And finally, your poem... an aside: my OLW this year is "deeply" - so I slowed down and read over and over, your words, your lines, looked hard at the punctuation, the placement and order of words in lines. Maybe form follows content? I could feel the bump and pivot of change as I wandered over your poem, letting the wind buffet me, pausing at those unmoved, moveable stones. Thank you, Heidi!

  8. This is such a fascinating poem, Heidi, and really rewards multiple reads. "use the stones"...ahhhh.... what a perfect ending. I've been reading Austin Kleon's book "Show Your Work" and your questions/thoughts seem to mesh with some of what he says about generously sharing your work. You always give me something to think about. Thank you!

  9. Heidi, as usual your words make me pause and reflect. The idea of a "practice of generous artistic collaborative process" is so fascinating to me. I am a team player and love to interact with others. The exquisite poem format makes that happen so what you suggest is not daring but a peaceful flow of friendship on a winter's day. Perhaps, a Zoom meet up is in order. I am pausing here to reread your amazing poem of punctuation highgligts.

  10. Spacing and punctuation changes can give such texture and meaning to a poem. I love the changes you made to the original corpse, and I look forward to see what you do with riffing and remixing your poetry this year.

  11. I love what you've done, Heidi, read it aloud, ha, fun! It isn't quite the same but your poem has reminded me of the first time I encountered Gwendolyn Brooks' "Speech to the Young. . ." and that final line, "live in the along". I loved the unusual, almost the question to those growing up to enjoy the surprises. Your poem did that to me, too, first "What is she doing here?" Then, I looked again, wow! As for the collaboration, it feels as if your Inklings got close to doing that this time, at least sharing lines. Sounds like something that could take one to new & intriguing places. Thanks!

  12. Poetry shared is always so much fun - and I am loving how you all shared an idea - even words/lines - then made your own distinct poems, true to your own voices.

  13. Sorry you were sick, Heidi.
    A great idea to help yourselves out by creating raw material to play with! Your method of poetry play is very freeing.

  14. Once again I am in awe of your courageous creativity, Heidi! Your reimagining of our lines is proof that there are riches to be found when we push beyond convention, when we step off the old path. Hope you're feeling better.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!