I have never been very successful at collaborative writing. My few attempts at joint composition of poetry have not yielded much fruit, so I'm fascinated when other poets and writers do it. Perhaps I'm too much of a control freak in my writing; though it has to be said that collaboration in this area isn't that prevalent, and there may be good reasons for this.

Interscriptions, jointly credited to John Hall and Peter Hughes, and just published by the Knives Forks & Spoons Press, may be a special case, in that both poets are also visual artists. Hall works with text as a visual element (the cover of his Reality Street "textual adventure", Apricot Pages, shows some of this), while Hughes is an accomplished painter as well as a poet.



The note at the back explains that the images (which contain text) were exchanged as jpeg files between the authors during a period of about four weeks in 2008. The quatrains on the facing page to each image were added later. But there is no information as to which author originated which image nor how the quatrains were written.

An educated guess would suggest that the more painterly imagery (eg the background in the above image, or the mysteriously subtle landscape used on the cover) started with Hughes, in response to which Hall superimposed textual diversions. Sometimes there is continuity from one page to the next, typically achieved by zooming in on a detail of a previous background image while the text morphs and amplifies. At other points there are radical discontinuities, which I don't always find successful; sometimes I would have liked further exploration of the possibilities of a particular image-world before moving on.

The non-visual quatrains would appear to form a running commentary on the process.

It's an interesting and often beautiful experiment, and the enterprising Knives Forks & Spoons Press deserves credit for producing this and other adventurous, full-colour books at reasonable prices.

Apologies that there hasn't been much activity on this blog over the past month. I had hoped that my enforced consignment to barracks would have produced more; but I have been distracted by other priorities, including editing, typesetting and designing the final three Reality Street books of 2011, set to be published this autumn. There will be more about this, and other topics, very shortly.