The line has been following me around
It is always coming up behind me
Pointing the way forward
Showing me where I've been
Going over and above
But now I'm drawing a line
under all that
1. In 2016, for the ‘Noted’ and ‘You Are Here’ Festivals, glass artist Harriet Schwarzrock and I collaborated on a project called ‘Light Lines’. This involved turning my poetry into lines of light made from heat-worked neon — the process helped align my visual and literary practices…
Line of Fire
During my work on a collaborative project called ‘Light Lines’ with glass artist Harriet Schwarzrock for the 2016 ‘Noted’ and ‘You Are Here’ Festivals, which involved turning my poetry into lines of light made from heat-worked neon — I made some discoveries that helped align my visual and literary practices.
I practised making lines — holding the thin glass tubes — so fragile — so straight and hollow — blow tube tucked behind my back teeth — feet squared up in front of the ribbon torch with its long tongue of flames — and held my long glass blade in it is blaze — turning — ever turning — slowly — deliberately — consistently and I watch the glass slowly take on the colour of sunset — first the palest apricot cloud and then a peach mist and finally the reflection of the sun itself — its fiery glow — until the whole thing is a shaft of light — a radiant beam turning in my hands — glowing orange and starting to melt and sag — the turn wobbling and losing itself — and then my steady breath stream to keep it constant — to stop it closing up and sealing shut — and the quick courageous arm swing to twist and turn the molten glass into a spiral of curves and bends — a sort of conversation in air — of hand-waving — a gestural jazz. And making these lines — that would then be lit again — in repetition — filled with all manner of gasses — Neon — Argon — Krypton — ready to re-trace my gestures in electric buzz — I re-turned to the poem I had pre-prepared and realised it could not be spun as it was — it would not sit in neat rows — a tidy alphabet of print and gap — margin and page — it would have to be sculptural — it would have to dance a little — it would have to sway its hips — it would have to lean and tilt — it would have to almost collapse — it would have to be propped and spun and life breathed into it — and what is more it would have to burn — it must be committed first to fire — before it could glow.
The turn of the line — has all poets on its hook — and yet a line turns all the time — turns tail — turns sour — turns away. But it also turns tinker tailor soldier spy — it turns lead to gold and water to wine. The line transforms as it turns — brings a little of what’s been left behind to what’s in front. It is a blanket stitch that goes back to go forward — that catches itself up. It binds unlike together — makes a new seam — it is the essence of collage — of assemblage — it is a semblance of what was or is or will be — it resembles — but it also dissembles — jumbles — mumbles — dismembers — misremembers — it re-turns an oddity.
3. Cut on the dotted line
For the artist follows the line as much as the line follows her -- the line in this way is always dotted -- always a trajectory -- a show of movement -- an indication only. It is never quite solid -- tentative -- always transitory -- a transition -- a transgression. It is a series of open doors -- little doorways or windows through which come light and noise and voices -- through which to escape -- through which to look and see differently. The line is a series of stops and starts -- of dashes -- hesitations -- a series of barricades and bridges -- canals and channels. The line corals -- contains -- explains -- detains -- but it also lets things slip out and away.
The line builds on itself/ it is in a constant state of germination/ it is DNA/ the line holds the hand of other lines/ brings friends along/ has an extended family/ encourages pro-creation. But the line can also cut short/ come to a dead end/ be truncated/ stopped in its tracks/ fall off a cliff. The line is sometimes an orphan
Widowed at the bottom of a well/left at the altar/ altered beyond repair
The line can be severed/ disinherited/ left blank/ bankrupted
Vanquished/ Vanished/ A Vanishing/
5. Be line
The line wants to branch out < is sick of being merely horizontal < wants to play Picasso < seeks out depth. When I run a drawing class I hand out pipe-cleaners to remind the class that the line is a thing < something in air < in space < the line moves away and towards > This is something concrete < the line has volume < occupies space >< carves out a domain >< maps a terrain> < outlines boundary >
I also get the class to draw the line in different states to remember that the line has a quality as well as substance | has attitude | spunk = character -- it feels its way forward --- that because it moves it must move in a particular way ¬ slowly ≥ definitely⎡ it may slide to its margin ⊃ or slink ⎠or glide ∠ get someone to draw a sparky line ^ or a tired line⎛ or a jocular line⎨it is easy done — a line can be lame or limp or limber -,---‘---``--`’` can run or drift or leak. The line can go boldly # !@&^%! ! can erupt * hesitate ~ hold itself back) It can sink or swim . . . .
It's time to draw the line