Posts Tagged ‘Collaboration’

The Power of Collaboration

Tidal RiseSince 2nd grade, from the age of seven (7) I have known instinctively deep down that there were three things I wanted to be when I grew up: a singer, a teacher, and a writer, in that order. However, although I still might not be a “grown up” since I believe we must all fight the impulse to ever really become one, there are a few enduring “take away” lessons I’ve learned in the process of realizing each of these ambitions that stick with me like my AARP card. The happiest moments I’ve been privileged to experience were always shared. In studying music, my goal was to be an operatic diva. But the best things that happened always happened in rehearsals for projects that took us all outside of ourselves and our narrow, singular viewpoints, and gave us a peek at being a part of something larger. Similarly, in teaching, the times when groups of like-minded teachers had the opportunity to work together on big projects that affected the lives of many students for the good of the all form my fondest memories looking back. So, imagine my surprise when, in the highly competitive marketplace of getting into print, an opportunity to collaborate once again presented itself.

On Saturday, September 19, 2015, the results of this literary collaboration will be presented publicly at The Second Poetry Circus. The brainchild of the wickedly talented and extremely energetic Nicelle Davis, The Poetry Circus is a collaborative effortMENU that I am both proud and humbled to be a part of. No less than thirty-three poets/writers have contributed to the gorgeous chapbook that will serve as a sort of “program” to guide the audience through the evening’s presentations. The event, slated to take place at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round in Los Angeles, CA, from 5:30 to 9:30 PM, will feature the poet laureate of Los Angeles, Luis Rodriguez, and offer readings by an incredible lineup of 32 poets, including me! There will be haiku balloons, circus performers, crafts for kids, free carousel rides, a book fair, and literary organizations all coming together to create something larger than the sum of its parts: a chance for people of all backgrounds, preferences, political leanings, and/or religious (or non-religious) persuasions to come together to experience, revel in, and celebrate ART that takes WORD as its medium.

All I can say is that this beautiful dream that is the Poetry Circus proves once again that collaboration offers more inclusion, promises more memorable results, and is a whole lot more fun than competition ever was. Not only that, but it extends to everyone who ever wanted to run away and join the circus the chance to realize that dream and participate in the magic-making that is both the WORD and the circus.Balloon2


Thinking Out Loud

Field Guide: identification of poems in their natural habitat –

Part 1: Videopoeia

The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.
Oscar Wilde

Ideation(n.) the process of generating and communicating new ideas. As a poem is literally a “made thing,” from the Greek, poein: a thing made from the imagination, I thought it would be interesting to take a critical look at how poems develop. To start us off, I “borrowed” a collaborative project, termed a “videopoeia” (coined by Omer Zalmanowitz, the videographer, who is one of the collaborators) — that is, a video-graphic re-presentation of the poet, Carleen Tibbetts, reading her own work aloud. Tentatively titled “Sad Grammar” or “An Idea Plumping in Salt Water,” the piece exemplifies the collaborative nature of “ideation” as it allows for the creation of an entirely new form of creative communication:

Critical thinkingalso termed “higher order thinking skills,” (that is, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, according to Bloom’s taxonomy) the actual “work” in making a poem begins after the initial drafting of a piece. This is where the poet/writer/artist begins to look at his/her own work through the lens of the “critical spirit” Wilde refers to in the opening quote. Toward that aim, I asked each of the collaborators (Carleen Tibbetts, the poet; and Omer Zalmonowitz, the videographer), a short series of questions regarding the creation of the work. Their answers demonstrate critical thinking skills in action:

Question 1: What was the initial impulse for creating this piece?

Carleen: The initial impulse was reading Ron Silliman and looking through my language journal for fragments, sentences, phrases, images, etc. that struck me and then experimenting with a repetitive pattern and then trying to structure the poem as many of his book-length poems are structured: block text format.

Omer: The impulse behind the videography was to capture Carleen’s performance so that the relief image of the performance wouldn’t be lost to those unable to attend the reading and thus, to keep the dimension of Carleen’s performance of the poem be part of the text. I have wanted to make a community of readings, the more readings that are available the better and I have wanted to do so for formal and informal readings since the vocalization, the spoken word, the reading and the performance is invaluable to poetry and it should be kept as part of the process of poetry-making whenever the performative aspect is present, whenever the spoken word of the text takes place on the tip of the tongue.

(Note: these answers epitomize analysis, in that they examine the work, and break it into parts by identifying motives or causes)

Question 2: What are your thoughts about the piece? Is there anything you’d like the audience to know about it?

Carleen: I wasn’t sure how long to make it. It was a first draft, so I just stopped at one page.

Omer: As the photographer/videomaker I am circulating throughout the world the gift of the text that Carleen is embodying, but it is not my poem, my body of text. This videomaking exists as a stamp on the letter — the text — and the envelope: the performance — of Carleen’s poem-making — with this stamp — a mechanical stamp, or in this case, a digital stamp — Carleen can send her text — the poem — in the envelope of her performance to various digital locations by using the digital stamp — the video. In that sense, by using this analogy, I am just the mailman, the postal worker who stamps the parcel. I’ve stamped Carleen’s poem with the ability to circulate it through the world as a video/digital/visual-auditory performative act.

(Note: these answers deliver synthesis, in explaining the production of a unique communication)

Question 3: What are your thoughts about this piece as a cultural artifact? Where will you take it from here?

Carleen: I’d need to gather more language to work into the recursive pattern in order for it to be a long poem, or a VERY long poem, in Silliman’s case!

Omer: I had noticed the complimentary property of the graphic/visual to the auditory — this is nothing unique, language works that way, a sign and a sound, and yet I was surprised how each line’s contour, length, number of letters, syllables, implied rhythm as it relates to the audio performance, how the lines were in themselves performative, already always having a suggested form about them, and yet how open-ended the process was as the possibilities at captioning the poem were plentiful — in that sense, in the captioning, I had tried to mimic the rhythm of the spoken word with the visual presentation of the captions. Even when a writer reads from a block of text, there is idiosyncratic parsing of the words into sound bytes that form sentences over the duration of speech, and although I’ve imposed a foreign parsing of the sentences of the poem onto Carleen’s vocal performance of the poem, it is the reading out loud of the poem, the spoken words, that guided me in the captioning process.

(Note: here we find probative evidence of evaluation,in that both collaborators offer their opinions, by making judgments about information, validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria)

Brainstorms – critical thinking is integral to the making of poems (as well as all artistic works) in that it allows the creator to clarify his/her initial goals (or impulses) in the origination of a work, to examine his/her assumptions, to discern hidden values, and to evaluate his/her conclusions. Over the next few weeks, I will publish a series of posts entitled “thinking out loud,” which will examine the process of poem-making from ideation to publication. I think that critical thinking is just as important as “creativity,” and in fact, probably contributes to the overall definition of what it means to be “creative.” Over the next few weeks, I intend to test that assumption.

Kudos – I would like to thank my colleagues, Carleen Tibbetts and Omer Zalmanowitz, for allowing me to “kick off” this series with the generous contribution of their collaborative work and their thoughts on its inception.

Carleen Tibbetts received her B.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University and her M.A. in English from CSU Northridge.  Her poems have appeared in L.A. Miscellany, The Northridge Review, Redheaded Stepchild Magazine, BluePrint Review, Ancora Imparo, and Zocalo Public Square.

Omer Zalmanowitz is a graduate of Cal State University, Northridge, awarded a B.A. in Music Studies and an M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.  He is interested in literary theory, cultural criticism, performance art, creative writing pedagogy, interdisciplinary studies, and travel writing, and also is interested in acoustics/sound theory.

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