note_19 D is for danger; live your danger, live dangerous. Victoria Vol. 3

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Trying to locate the original manuscript of my novel of 78 fragments, I came across a lot of things. One of them was this; a nicely calibrated collaboration with my dear friend Simon English for Grant Watson’s Victoria which must have been hand-produced in 1998? Unbound, A3, in editions of 200 it seems, a warm and civil experience all around, and in happy company.

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D is Guy Mannes-Abbott, Double and Twist is Simon English (Ph GMA)

D or ‘d’ actually, was a very early e.things text from autumn 1997. The circle of what were the first hundred formed when I wrote D-Plus in summer 1999 and realised that a two year arc was almost done (hence the Essential Things exhibition). Sing, Song was the penultimate text, which was exhibited, published, read quite often and always a favourite, but did not fully resolve its form on the page. That is; these first hundred e.things were very deliberately continuous streams of text in a particular font, from a single line or so to sixty or seventy lines. They were Steinian in their singular grammatical liberties, though I was and am (contra GS) a believer in the comma, the use of rhythmic stops is very distinctive even if it has roots in teenage imbibing of Gertrude’s writing and thought (unrealised in humble truth until I gave a talk at the AA in 2016 on the love and work she and Alice engaged in and for the umpteenth time re-read that lecture).

I only understood this properly when Angela read Sing, Song out at Gregorio’s one night and of course was not able to read the unmarked rhythmic signals. Nobody else, including silent readers, could! The formal freedom was important to me with those early texts, massively condensed as they were, but this was a problem. It proved the last of that first hundred because something new was developing. When I read it next and Angela was present, the text was realised and that brought pleasure but also writerly panic about this newly-realised limit too. Subsequent e.things shrank to serial verse-like forms (the Wolfgangs, and Ghazals for Gertrude), did indulge graphic and other formal tools, and grew into videos, portraits and essays as well as wall-texts. Sing, Song stayed as it was; I don’t like playing around with form retrospectively. I also don’t like the way so much declaredly innovative poetry is so thin; only playing around with form to mask a vacuity…

I meant a lot by this ‘living your danger’, mainly a writing understood as nothing less than art. I won’t prose-it-up now, but suffice to say that risk is all. Risk everything always, nothing else is worth clogging up the work or wasting anyone’s time with (especially a mind that thinks itself ‘well-stocked’; spend it, get out beyond its horizons before you start pulease!). Spend everything you know or think you know; don’t ‘save’ ideas, story, ‘material’, emotion, anything. Spend or work it and you discover what it is, for one thing, and its limits, but whatever it is also transforms in the process (ofc), and marks the world forever in its moment. Or that would be the minimal threshold, right? Of course, it means taking risks in everything else you do, too, but you know that.

In the end was the word…

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