Tag Archives: Collaboration

On Collaboration in Poetry, pt. 3: Ideas, Schmideas

Next week, Joshua Young and I will be releasing The Diegesis through Gold Wake Press on February 15.

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the value of collaboration in poetry.
In Part 2, I talked about how awesome it is not to have any time for anything.

I’ve focused on these subjects because they’ve been the most surprising (and exciting) aspects of collaboration. Today we’re going to round out the trilogy by talking about the nature of ideas.

Why are we going to talk about ideas? Because, well, it’s a good idea to.

If a writer isn’t complaining about not having enough time, they’re complaining about not having any good ideas. It’s always something with us damn writers.

You are guilty of this. I am guilty of this. Admit the guilt, and let’s move on.

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On Collaboration in Poetry, pt. 2: Hey Brother, Can You Spare Some Time?

In a few short weeks, Joshua Young and I will be releasing The Diegesis through Gold Wake Press on February 15.

Last week, I started talking about the value of collaboration in poetry and how Josh and I first came to work together. I left off by saying, essentially, that although I agreed to work with Josh on this project, I had given myself no time to do so.

So let’s explore that thought further, this silly concept of time. By all accounts, it appears to be a very precious commodity. If this were David Lynch’s version of Dune, I could almost hear people whispering it seductively: time … sweet sweet time. 

Most of us look at time completely wrong. We all say that we don’t have enough of it, that we’ll take care of this or that project as soon as (a) we get a moment, (b) we get past some arbitrary date on a calendar, (c) work settles down, or (d) pigs fly. Now, planning ahead is a good thing—I’ve learned these past few years as a freelancer how easy it is to overcommit, believe me. But the secret is that if we really want to do something we can always find the time.

I’ve learned that a lot of the work I end up being most fond of is produced during stolen moments, periods of my life where I supposedly don’t have the time for anything.

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On Collaboration in Poetry, pt. 1

In a few short weeks, Joshua Young and I will be releasing The Diegesis through Gold Wake Press on February 15.

The collection marks my first full-length release of any kind. Well, at least with my name on it. The life of a professional copy writer means that you get to make a lot of things that you’re not necessarily credited for.

And that’s fine. In all honesty, I’d like to reserve my name for the things that mean the most to me anyway. In the case of The Diegesis, I have the honor of sharing a byline with someone who is far more creatively driven than myself, and the fact that this collection even exists is a testament to his ability to inspire creativity in others.

I say this because, I can assure you, without this guy around to kick my ass into action I still wouldn’t have my name on a book. Here’s to collaboration, then. With our book just around the corner, I figured now would be a good time to explore the value of creative collaboration, and why it’s one of my favorite ways to work.

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Yay. Yellow and I made another awesome Frankenstory:

Sitting sickly on the sidewalk, Lou looks both ways before deciding his destiny. Making notes in a tattered book, Lou steadies his hand and he maps out his moves. One scribble at a time Lou writes what he knows, scrawling: I know there are many kinds of lettuce, but not why the memory of a season can be condensed into the angles of sunbeams on the living room floor. I know I have waited two seasons to reproduce the effect, but like sports and soil, some of life just can’t hold. Lou takes all of this in stride. Musing on his notes, he veers off – thinking for a minute about how video games reproduce childhood – how he was both the barrel and the hammer. And now, forever climbing ladders, our hero is approaching the killscreen. Now he understands that coming full circle can never return him to the same point, that a beam of light strikes indifferent eyes in different ways.



Wow. This time Yellow and I have outdone ourselves.

Words and pacing, the ability to set the correct beat, to ease the transition from present into past. I watch this and wonder if it’s better to look back while moving forward or to move back while looking forward. We moved in circles when we were younger, making stories out of the twists and turns of life. Thinking of this, and wondering if one can untangles one’s self from the gyre of “tenses,” I mused that maybe the past had presented an opportunity for a future disaster, but as long as I had Mr. Fusion & a flux capacitor, a giant speaker & Huey Lewis and the News, I could arrive back in time for my favorite ending. It’s funny, I thought for a moment, how much we focus on beginnings, making room for their possibility, when it’s the endings that take the most work. Planning ahead for the past, I’m readying for a grand finale.


Frankenstories, collected

Yellow and I have done a lot of awesome Frankenstories together, but I have only posted a few of them. Shame on me. It was really cool going back and looking at all of them. A few I had forgotten completely, so it was like reading them for the first time. Here they are, for all your viewing pleasure:

Story completed, 11/11/09

Up late and early, she’s crowded by the unintended. Listing the unlistable, she marks it down with perfect pacing, her graphite scrawls urging the words – life, she says, is more that this cashewed twist of fate. Exposed, these twenty-four ninja monkeys were tired of adorning lunchboxes and their matching thermoses. The exposure was unbearable, exacerbated by their bear of a manager, so they took to Bayer and beer, slipping away into the night not out of stealth but of atrophy. This dissolution weights waterlogged words on her tongue, but she manages to eek out the tiniest of words, saying carefully, as though she might lose it, “slow” – not slow down or slowly, but “slow,” she said it again. She knew their minds worked like ants on Labor Day, and never understood how banana eating, lunchbox toting monkeys could ever become ninjas in the first place. At least they weren’t turtles, she thought. No one would ever believe that nonsense.

Story Completed 11/4/09

It wasn’t the result of the idea as much as the novelty of it. I contemplated it forlornly for weeks. Usually, I’d just muster my loyal hound from his slumber and whisper to his oversized ears in German, “They’ve erhalten ihre zahl!” But, of course, when someone’s got your number, there’s no need to dial nine. Sleep is never deep enough to keep thoughts like this at bay, and so with dreams left trapped in his teeth he grunted, ” If I must floss this notion from my mind with the subtlety of a carwash, I will, for the cold desperation of your sleepy eyes has awakened me to your folly.” The TV ants colluded with the antenna, and the dog tailed the trail all the way to the ground. It’s good, he thought, just to know that waking like can be so ordinarily inordinate, so consistently sporadic. “Ich habe einen traum,” he grumbled at last, a dream manifested in itself.

Story completed 10/19/09:

I will put these words to the test to see what works best. I willed petty hords to digress to ease their conquest. Distilled Betty scorns the conquest to please the princess. Chilled insects mourn the digest, teasing the intellect. Her’s wallowed, hole full, the princess swapped sill. Widows to the sole, muddied up and toed, the wood’s not making it. Instead, the slabs pine for what is now dread. Sleep away slab head in your pine solved bed. Head sheen earring clean mister solves a thing. Fixated on a triple x, a semicolon’s broken stretch. Triple solvent solution potion, broken notion head-scratch commotion. Make no motion when riding the pine. “Low shun!” the princess mooed slough. No swapping the board, pining over what’s not – makes no motions when it’s no angle you know. The hair’s no angles for the dread, but the widows still reject the void.

Story completed 10/2/09:

He sat in the living room, his portable music player playing the same four songs on repeat, and wondered aloud to himself a very serious issue. “Why,” said he, wiping the suds from his mouth,” am I so lazy today? Days passed, he wondered again about his lack of drive, “Why haven’t I mastered my fate?” Looking down, empty boxes scattered about, Little Debbie glared back, her gingham grin seemed to ask, “Can a Cosmic Brownie change a zebra’s stripes?” He posited that this may verily be true, and resolved to feed a cosmic brownie to a zebra. Perhaps (if nothing else) it could run so fast that it turned gray. “But first,” he said absentmindedly, “Where might I find the right one?” All these questions but still, it’s not all chocolate and white cream filling, he knew that. To-do lists be damned, he pulled paper from the drawer and began to plan: 1. Ask more of myself. 2. Ask less.

Story Completed 9/24/09:

Look at you, sitting there with your silly t-shirt, allowing its poorly-hatched slogan to act as your proxy. You like the attention (don’t you?) when people stop you on the street and say “Hey man! Awesome shirt!” Well, it is not. your place to decide such things so you pick up your bag and keep moving. You pass many men, all with shirts, all looking awkwardly in your direction, and you think to yourself, pianos without keys string together silent songs.” You remember the horizontal harp laying inside the baby grand, and the mallet tucked snugly inside your pocket. With these implements you can puzzle out a tune, but the words ring as hollow as the haphazard tripe written on your shirt Silence, you think, is more than the empty space after speaking, so you pull the marker from your pocket and face the mirror, focusing as you write against the reflection, “Pianos without strings key solvent songs.”

Story Completed 9/23/09:

You can’t be that without first being this. The sign bearing these words hung low across the room shadowing the perfect rows of chairs inside the door. As the crowd entered they took to their badges reading “this” and “that” and every so often felt compelled to abuse their authority. It’s truly amazing what the license to designate signification can do to a person, and though they’d have liked to think they were above such trips down egotism lane, they weren’t. Fortunately being “this” is much easier than it sounds. Gathering their coats, the crowd moved out into the sun, ready to abandon their thisness and take on the challenge of thatness. “I am more than this!” they cried to stunned strangers. who, moments before, were innocently walking by, carrying their box-store baubles, their over-priced and poorly stitched fashion accessories. One was so shaken that upon returning home she began a grassroots canned food drive for the local chapter of the grammar police.

Story completed 9/22/09:

Moments after I came face to face with the anthropomorphic clock, I realized that I was running late for my date with destiny. No tiger wrangler will leave me, I thought, and I raced over to stage where the show was about to begin. I smoothed my hair, donned my biggest smile, and as he called to the striped beast I remembered the advice my father (or was it my mother wearing a mustache?) once said to me. “Son,” he (she) said, “You know it’s a cruel world we live in when thousands of balloons everywhere are untwisted by clowns.” But there is nowhere to go in times like this. You sit down, you reflect, you recover from the 64oz Slurpee, and you say to that destiny you’ve been chasing so long, “Some were made for tigers, but I’m for the monkeys all the way.”

Story completed 9/22/09:

I understand now that it was a bad idea. At the time, of course, I didn’t. But the way I see it, if Gina “Chicken Legs” Parker didn’t want to be gnawed, she would have chosen a different nickname. Given the fact that she was named Grizzelda at birth, it’s difficult with a nickname to go anywhere but up. Bracketed by crowds of people unwilling to hear her meek cries, she took the podium once more. “This,” she began, ” is an artist’s depiction of Angelina Jolie crossbred with a pencil.” The Powerpoint presentation dazzled the crowd with a few kinda cool dissolves and sound effects, but at the Q & A session the only question anyone wanted to ask was “If the chickens rally, who will catch the eggs?” The answer, not for those of yolky, yellow heart, would buoy the crowd to greatness. She cried out, “Break your shells but save your souls!” Her nickname, finally, had come to fruition.

Story completed 9/22/09:

Black paint and phantom capes, that’s all it takes to join this group. Throngs of surly gents bound together, dark masses of matted hair, sharpened eyes, lanky limbs, this group is wondering aloud in your direction, so you reflexively check your zipper, wipe the corners of your mouth, and run your tongue across your teeth. Nope, not that; your grooming is impeccable once again. Angus, the group leader, seems to be the director of the collective gaze, his minions bowed with gratitude and sorrow. Their face paint dripped black tears off chalky cheeks as he boomed, “We’ve no place for balloons is this battle.” The squirrels scampered in fear of the dawning doom. . Dogs and cats formed an uneasy alliance, but as the hours ticked by the dogs vanished. Night settled, the dogs’ howls grew more desperate and infrequent, and come morning, only the canines’ canines littered the ground, and all was still.


Yellow and I made this, and also this.

You should make your own and share your links in the comments.