Laid in narrow tissues or in in soft theta curving of the innocence
of narrow issues; in curves of nonsense lie in no sense in soft
curving rows of tissue curves of of innocence narrow soft curves
from O: egg – insomnia by a. rawlings
It seems only yesterday that angela rawlings was Poet-in-Residence and collaborating with local and international poets for the monumental Gibberbird. Here she updates us on her journey and talks cycles, structures, the physical nature of poetry and her contribution to Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect.
The notion of circularity is prominent in your work, from breathing, sleeping and waking, to the environment such as moons, tides, orbits and migrations. Could you describe your connection to this theme?
“Circles and circles and circles again the girl’s in” – Tori Amos
Cycles. We’ve used the notion of identity numerous repetitions of form within biological and ecological entities. Our bodies are intimate with cycles, as we’re tied into circadian rhythms, menstruation, life spans. Witnessing cycles demonstrates an interest in the mechanics of life processes — and here, I intend life to refer to both biotic and abiotic entities. Are not planetary cycles also demonstrated in a type of ecology?
Your piece Ligature in G makes use of the circuits and interconnectivity of words and letters, bringing focus to both meaning and form. Could you talk us through the piece and how it came to be?
Ligature connects the first two letters of each word with the previous word’s two ending letters. As an additional governing structure, every word contains the letter G (with its ever attractive near-circle form). With the emphasis so heavily torqued to emphasize word similarity rather than syntax, readers are presented with a spaceless text that requests an engaged, focused reading. The discovery of words invites, then, the further consideration for the reader: how do these words relate to one another contextually? We are trained, as young readers, to search for narrative, for story, as the primary mode of relatability and interconnection in text-driven works. So this syntax-less ligature offers a reader the possibility to tease out narrative from what connects where, and/or to question the over-reliance on narrative structures in our engagements with text, with life. Someone who views the text outside of narrative might further extrapolate — if reflecting on the circular structure of the poem — an interrogation of cyclic ‘truth’ as well. Are the structures we’ve inherited or intuited as ‘fact’ (here using cycles as our example) the sole way of reading, viewing, comprehending?
“Is what you think you show who I think you are?” — Caroline Bergvall
It is fantastic to have you return to the Queensland Poetry Festival in artefact form. The physicality of poetry has often been referenced in your work. How do you identify with poetry-as-material?
Great question, Pascalle. And great, too, to be present at this festival (though wish I could bodily join the celebration!).
If we consider the material properties of most languages to be visual (letter-shapes), aural (speech), tactile (Braille, as an example), and kinetic (sign languages, as examples), then textual exploration that tends to enliven me will often highlight one or more of these aspects — for the purpose of drawing attention to linguistic materiality, or in obvious partnership with a semantic content. I’m drawn to work, as well, where the form or structure of a work appears to have conscientious relationship with the content.
What have you been up to since you were the Arts Queensland Poet in Residence in 2012?
I returned to Iceland and spent months preparing the online launch of Gibber, the literary result of my Queensland poetry residency. Aside from that, I’ve been in a long-term exploration of Death.