Difference, Distance, and Collaboration in 'Speaking Geographies' and 'Speedfactory'

 

How do multiple poets speak at once, and what purpose can it serve? Poetry collaborations can involve sophisticated layerings of voice and impositions of meaning, depending on the intentions of the poets involved. In this article, a theory of ‘palimpsestuous’ poetic voices will be substantiated in the case of poetry collections where these voices fluctuate and come together to selectively promote certain ideas or issues. Two poetry collaborations—Speedfactory by Bernard Cohen, John Kinsella, McKenzie Wark, and Terri-ann White, and Speaking Geographies, an on-going poetry project by this article’s authors Siobhan Hodge and Rosalind McFarlane—will be examined in detail. In the case of these two collections, environmentalist concerns are particularly highlighted by their engagements with poetic voices. As this article will demonstrate, collaborations offer poets unique opportunities to set up contrasts between the personal and the communal, coming together with great effect to promote or condemn issues or values.

 

 

Keywords: creative collaboration—poetry—palimpsest—voice—environment

 

Critical assessments of both collaboration and ecocriticism often discuss aspects of voice. This takes on additional ramifications when considering how collaborative poetry works are created. When writers share or send out poems, what is lost and what can be gained? And what, if anything, does the environment get, or have to do, with the process? This article aims to use both collaboration criticism and ecocritical thought to analyse symbolic engagements with the process of collaboration itself in two collaborative creative works: Speedfactory, a collaborative poetic ‘game’ between Bernard Cohen, John Kinsella, McKenzie Wark, and Terri-ann White published in 2002; and Speaking Geographies, an on-going collaboration between Siobhan Hodge and Rosalind McFarlane that draws on many aspects of Speedfactory. Using these two works, we argue that collaboration introduces a special kind of conscious performativity to these texts and their voices. This has specific ecocritical consequences, in that not only do such collaborations create the potential for a space in which voices become more collaborative, extending beyond fixed personal human identities, but also can be excellent stages to articulate environmentalist concerns.

When writing about voice in texts, Elizabeth Nelson notes that what is often missing from this discussion is the malleability that voice can have within text. She argues that:

Rather than being a transtextual persona, one mask through which the author speaks again and again regardless of theme, genre, or audience, voice can and sometimes does suit itself to a particular text. In such instances, the vision of the text calls forth the voice needed to express that vision (2013: 334).

Nelson articulates the idea that not only can authors have voices, but texts can too. Indeed it is the very text itself which may call forth, or require, a certain voice for expression. This is especially pertinent to the creation of collaborative works, as it implies that there may be a very specific voice created for and by collaborative works. In fact, authors may even be invited to ­re-write or re-speak each other’s voices, which is certainly the case in both Speedfactory and Speaking Geographies. This then engages with what Nelson sees as:

‘[W]riting down’ – a movement towards the depths of the ideas and images active in the work—in which writing, reading, and re-writing are valuable means by which researchers think through preliminary ideas, assumptions, and intuitions and are to articulate their hopes, dreams, and fantasies of the research outcome and significance. (2013: 331)

As the opposite of ‘writing up’, ‘writing down’ engages specifically with the process of creation and the process of writing. Such a progression is foregrounded in many collaborative works; the authors create together and by doing so also edit and form the collection through conscious combination of writing and re-writing with each other. In such instances, the voice of these collections is also strongly influenced by the fact that both the outcome and significance are overtly created together through this ‘writing down’ process. Voices in these kinds of collaborative projects are therefore not collapsed and rendered amorphous, but rather are occasionally forged together into more clearly delineated and communally held ideas and intentions. Rather than renouncing textual control by via incorporation of multiple voices, collaborative poetics can encourage and reinforce the creation of one unified voice in particular matters, especially pertaining to the environments within and outside the collection, as in Speedfactory and Speaking Geographies.

One way in which we can consider how voice in a collaborative collection might emerge is by using Sarah Dillon’s idea of ‘“[p]alimpsestuousness”—a simultaneous relation of intimacy and separation—[that] provides a model for this form, preserving as it does the distinctness of its texts, while at the same time allowing for their essential contamination and interdependence’ (2007: 3). For Dillon, the figure of the palimpsest—a manuscript that is scraped ‘clean’ and then written on again—is a very specific form of relation that engages with both separation and intimacy where each are mutually constituted by the other. A palimpsest is precisely made up of this relationship between intimacy and separation; without it the manuscript ceases to be a palimpsest. It is the essential nature of this relation that we argue also constitutes voice in collaborative works. This collaborative voice is described as ‘palimpsestuous’ since it must always contain the intimacy of several authors, but at the same time must never collapse the difference and distance between these different creators. Selective spaces within collaborative collections offer poets the ability to speak in more overtly individual tones, but come together in others. However, the way in which this is done can vary from project to project.

In addition it should be asked what might the ‘palimpsestuous’ collaborative ‘voice’ of a collection offer to the field of ecocriticism? What would a voice that foregrounds its own partiality, its relationship to distance and intimacy, and ultimately its own creation, offer when considered from an ecocritical standpoint? Della Pollock seems to offer a possibility in her discussion of performative writing. For Pollock:

Performative writing is evocative. It operates metaphorically to render absence present—to bring the reader into contact with ‘other-worlds’, to [sic] those aspects and dimensions of our world that are other to the text as such by re-making them. Performative writing evokes worlds that are other-wise intangible, unlocatable: worlds of memory, pleasure, sensation, imagination, affect, and in-sight. Whereas a mimetic/realist perspective tends to reify absent referents in language, thus sustaining an illusion of full presence, a performative perspective tends to favor the generative and ludic capacities of language and language encounters—the interplay of reader and writer in the joint production of meaning. It does not describe, in a narrowly reportorial sense, an objectively verifiable event or process but uses language like paint to create what is self-evidently a version of what was, what is, and/or what might be. (1998: 80)

Pollock considers performative writing a necessarily large area and while she offers six possible characteristics or ‘excursions’ into this writing, she appears less concerned with pinning down what precisely performative writing is, and is instead invested in what this writing may be able to do. For Pollock, writing becomes performative when: it starts to create versions of what might have been or what might still be; when it becomes a form of event through its generative and ludic nature; and when it foregrounds its own sense of process. This series of definitions fits well with collaborative writing in that the collections examined here also foreground their own processes. While such projects may not be as overtly performative as writing that is specifically created to be read aloud, they are still performative in that they enact their own processes of creation on the page, something which we argue can be seen specifically in the voice of collaborative works as they perform their palimpsestuous natures, a result of their creation, on the page.

Adele Bealer, a reader of Pollock, argues that performance and performative texts could have a special relationship with and significance for ecocriticism. For Bealer, ‘performance theory recognizes that performance occurs between the constructions of nature and culture, in the very moment of their coconstruction’ (2012: 7) and this makes it eminently useful for ecocriticism; texts that engage with both performativity and ecocriticism can point to this very moment of construction and the resultant ramifications for nature and culture. Bealer focuses on the performer/writer and audience relationship, but her theorisation also allows for flexibility to consider doubled or multiple authors where the performance occurs between the authors, as well as the authors and their reader/s. She also points to the ways in which place, a central aspect of ecocriticism, becomes an important aspect of performative writing as:

Places serve here as spaces for performance in which time is made visible and history becomes a material actor in its own construction. Personal narratives performed in these conjunctive environments dialogically confront the forces that shaped those performances and those spaces; transgression becomes possible across the boundaries between past and present, and intervention is invited between writerly performances and readerly responses. (2012: 14)

In both Speedfactory and Speaking Geographies temporal and physical locations frame much of the collections’ critical engagements. In these instances in particular, manipulations of voice appear most prominently. Consequently it can be argued that in such collaborative practices, engagements between space and voice can be consciously applied in critical ways, with the primary intention in the case of both of these texts being to critique human exploitation of nature. Place for Bealer becomes open and performative when used in specific ways through personal narratives that bring into the foreground the ways in which these places and performances have been shaped. Indeed for her:

Environmental writing often features personal narrative grounded, literally, in a specific confluence of historic time and contemporary even in some specific place, intimately and extensively experienced through everyday contact over some duration of time. Knowledge of place is always performance-centred. (2012: 14)

In this article we wish to explore the ways in which places become deliberately performative through the use of collaborative voice, with its intimacy and separation, and how such voices can be used in creative ways to enact an ecocritical form of writing.


Speedfactory

Published in 2002, Speedfactory is a series of genre-crossing exchanges, sent allegedly in accordance to rules of exchange and word limits, but the identities of the authors are still subject to slippage. Speedfactory’s structure contains clearly outlined rules, established before the poems begin, and separated according to named chapters. Each collaborative step is outlined, but the actual points of dissemination, integration and re-interpretation are less clear. Each speaker in Speedfactory consciously maps out their losses of barriers even as new boundaries are being marked. The urgency of travel and the barrage of images and ideas that demand negotiation, as seen in Speedfactory, are reworked into something more immediately personal between two familiar speakers, grounded in remembered, imagined, and intended meeting places. The rules for Speedfactory and its layers of voice are clear, but much less so here: space is traversed, but the means and motivations are constantly shifting, layering over one another. This creates a very distinct form of collaborative voice for the collection, one reminiscent of Dillon’s idea of palimpsestuousness, which becomes performative as the collection enacts its own process of thinking between and through the poems.

As a collaborative process, Speedfactory is simultaneously attributive and ambiguous, creating its very distinctive sense of voice. Each section is attributed to members of the poetry collective, but within those sections there are no clear marks of ownership. Numerous ‘I’s populate the text. Quotations, memories, stories, theoretical debates and literary figures all feature prominently in a pastiche of simultaneously intense and fleeting encounters. Pronouns are constantly being swapped, yet the project is intrinsically linked by its rapid movement, constant transitions, and burgeoning sense of connectivity even in the face of so many swift fragments. The fact that each section does have an attribution, but that this naming is not continued within the section, suggests that while a collective sense of acknowledgement is required, a specific form of ownership is not. Indeed this fits also with Dillon’s idea of palimpsestuousness as there is a form of separation between the poets and their work, as well as an acknowledgement of their intimacy in this work. Even as each section creates a sense of distance through naming, this is broken down when the work within these sections bleeds into each other. Such an act also creates a sense of collaborative voice that is performative as it creates this sense of palimpsestuous voice directly in front of the reader—in both its act as a creative act between poet, and in the way this is consciously performed for the reader—there is a sense that what is being created is temporal, unfinished and experiential more than settled, directly referential or certain.

The environment is not an immediate concern of Speedfactory, however the collection’s thorough problematising of the acts of moving through places is nonetheless showcased in this collaboration. In ‘Game #3’ by McKenzie Wark and Terri-ann White, the first-person speaker ruminates on links between aeroplanes and books, and the way in which information travels:

Travel isn’t valuable until thresholds are crossed or
discomforts carried across borders. Until you find the
time to consider why you are heading this way. With a
good book, a new and engaging one by a beloved writer,
at Heathrow, I sit for hours and clock up some of the
twenty-seven hours to reach my destination. Watching
and listening to the Poms, particularly on the public
address, and their visitors. This is now an urgent
boarding call. Run, miscreants! (Speedfactory: 51)

The wry humour in the speaker’s observation is compounded into a more serious series of comments later in the collection, also by Wark. In a separate section titled ‘The [Thing]’ even more thresholds are highlighted, drawing lines between multiple people and places, bodies and forms:

The backyard and pool. The balance. The bare bones of
that dream. The benefactor Baroness. The blankness of the
Australian canvas. The body rubbed against a particular
speed. The breath-point.

The canals throwing up their stuff. The cinematic
apparatus. The clots travelling to your lungs. The colours
so. The coming together of a centralised state. The conic
root. The corpses of long since dried-up felt pens. The
crack up. The cubic space of the tooth. (Speedfactory: 121)

In both of these opening stanzas, water appears as a linking point, yet this is not water in its natural form. Rather, it is to be channelled and utilised for human convenience and amusement, instead of left to its own devices and natural patterns. In the introduction to their book Thinking with Water, Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis note that:

Where they are not being immediately managed or contested, when they are not unexpectedly flooding or washing away human lives and livelihoods, waters are often conveniently forgotten and assumed to be malleable resources. (2013: 3)

In Speedfactory waters link, but only in a way that is controlled by human actions—canals and pools are both created to hold water for human purposes. Similarly, the processes of poetic construction in Speedfactory are neither gentle nor wholly natural, but the apparently hectic decisions of poets working within a hurried framework. However, this manipulative space is not presented free from critique, nor is the framework for the collaboration necessarily restrictive. In the first section of ‘Game #1’, the ‘rules’ for writing Speedfactory are organically built into the speaker’s narrative: ‘This book does not have a point at which it is authored, / but a vector, these lines between.’ (Speedfactory: 9)  Again this contributes to a sense of voice in the collection that is more about its own forms of creation, of becoming something as it is written and then read, than being a polished ‘object’.

The collaborative voices of the collection swell to encompass even more bodies and voices, delineated grammatically via frequent full-stops, and a persistent focus on personifying all that comes into contact with this shifting narrative voice. As this section continues, the collaborative process becomes more urgent and even more firmly linked with notions of danger:

The faster it gets. The fear of being jumped upon. The
fibre of American music. The film that simply everyone
hated. The force of airbrakes which all pilots no doubt
wish for. The forests become a standing reserve. The
former furniture factory turned speed terminal. The
fundamental determination of writing. (Speedfactory: 122)  

The collaboration is geared towards not only racing through a myriad of ideas and anxieties, but also to write its own meanings through their performance of voice. The compounding images of Speedfactory build currency for the poets and also for the means by which their voices are moving and engaging with one another. However, this is neither a simple nor victimless process. In ‘Game #4’ John Kinsella and Terri-ann White reflect a more anxious environment upon which the speakers’ voices are played out:

           … Miles upon miles of tarpaulins covering
people’s precious living spaces, their collections of
comfort. The albums of photographs that will now and
forever curl at the edges, look less because of the tint of
dampness. I am being blown away this way and that. Decide
against an obituary for anyone at all, but especially not
for me. The smooth surfaces of a box seem appealing; I
need rest, need to remake this trajectory of flesh, of
complementarity, of equivalent measurement. Where to<
from here? The bush track seems an option at last, for the
first time. Getting lost in deserts is no great drama, more a
communicating impulse, a madness worth owning. This
desert is big enough for the both of us, but let’s walk in
opposite directions …(Speedfactory: 80)

Liquid recurs as a point of concern, shifting the speaker’s perceptions of events and spurring on further breakage, yet ironically resulting in further connections with another speaker. Chen, MacLeod and Neimanis note this when they discuss ‘water’s capacity to connect and combine’ (2013: 6), but not always in comforting or welcome ways. This section of Speedfactory acknowledges the presence of the other ‘player’ in the collaborative project, as well as the ability for the speaker to shift the focus of their creative endeavour at will. However, the bodily and environmental images work together to demand yet more movement. Rather than being purely acted upon, the environmental setting becomes an active participant in the poetic speakers’ ambiguous dialogue, redirecting the flow of discussion and inspiring a more transparent relationship among the poets, and between the poets and their audiences, thereby becoming a performative place in this work, a direct result of the collaborative voice.   
 

Speaking Geographies

Speaking Geographies, a collaborative poetry project in-progress by the present authors, Siobhan Hodge and Rosalind McFarlane, is thematically and stylistically focused on the processes of transmission, as well as their impacts on the outside world. Structurally and thematically, the collection is creatively geared towards exploring the implications of travel and collaboration for the natural world, as well as the poetic speakers’ changing senses of responsibility and connectivity. In addition, the collection engages with issues linked to collaborative processes and performative voice. Speaking Geographies is inherently ambiguous when it comes to identifying the originary writer/s and voices of most poems. This works alongside environmental foci to encourage further interrogations of connections and shared responsibilities.

Though not yet published, Speaking Geographies has been composed via a series of letters, postcards and in emails, exchanged as entire pieces, stanzas, partial lines, and fragments to be assembled by the other recipient poet into a new piece, and in a different location. Upon receipt, the poems are remixed and sent back to the source poet, for another remix or further edits. The number of exchanges varies from poem to poem, and some pieces are returned unaltered, however the revisions, whether they have occurred and where, are never marked. Rather, the extent to which each poem, line, word or space has been altered and the process by which that happens, is always ambiguous, is embedded in the poem's palimpsest and because of that arguably suggestive and present. As the poems are created, revised, rewritten, re-spliced and redrawn they foreground their process of creation, one that is overtly performative and intricate, creating a self-conscious cycle that displays a palimpsestuous collaborative voice.

Even through the creation of this fragmented performative voice, Speaking Geographies is preoccupied with ideas of loss in many forms: voice, identity, language, culture, direction, to name a few. The first poems to broach this issue are focused on missing transmissions from the collection itself, before moving on to less personally-orientated foci and acknowledging the broader systems of environmental destruction in which they have been complicit or to which they have been made witnesses. An entire section of Speaking Geographies is dedicated to the letters that were never received and whose contents were not recorded prior to sending. Such poems are representative of the vulnerability of the letter in transit and also potential loss of meaning that could occur at any stage in the interpretative process. Rather than mourning this loss, it must be recycled and renewed into something beneficial, outlined in the poem 'Missing Letters':           

            In the aftermath
detritus lacks
several, known elements.
Some fragments have yet
to surface, porous
or locked, from passage.
Doorbell echo. Slipped
or shoved—each move
is set and scene,
staged elsewhere. Caught
fibres of another,
blues and blacks unread
but somehow
shared. Exhalation
is only loss if
it is the last.
Still, we have reference
to share that missed
exchange, and I suspect
that there was nothing there
we didn’t know already.  

The cumbersome rhythm and grammatical slippage of commas and en-dashes highlight that something has been hastily brought together, pulled out of the wreckage. This is a turbulent collaborative creation, made from pieces of lost voices that have been re-bound in a self-conscious way. Even poems that have been lost must be recovered in some way, in keeping with the collection’s structural and thematic focus on recycling. In addition, a voice has been ‘recovered’ from the wreckage, noted in the third-to-last line that assists in recovering a sense of communal knowledge in the final line. This is a poem of triumph against decay, highlighting the importance of voice in making such a stance. However, the avoidable nature of the loss is also something to be critiqued, particularly since it was foregrounded in an earlier poem in the collection:           

Would you like a tracking number?

Mangle your words and tuck
delicate feelings behind scratch marks,
ink runs and bent corners:
the postmark as censure.
 
Storms make a puddle of your letterbox,
the straight sentences of bills infiltrated:
ads for a new life fuse
delayed missives and cautionary love
letters between damp sheets.
 
Finger print away—the date’s a stamp and
communication is failing at the point of delivery—
postal worker a fluro absence:
the numbers fell off outside.

And you stole this letter anyway,
producing blackmarket packets:
the briefest of grammar fixes
and a pinch of delicately edged
purloined pronouns.

Loss and theft, as well as conscious risk, are linked with the collaborative process in terms of its voice. The speakers lament the loss of each astray letter, but almost relish the sense of opportunity that each generates, but this is also retrospectively revealed to be a conceit. Voice in this section is more singular and accusing, in keeping with the uncertainty of this early stage. The speakers have taken a risk in the early throes of the project, but towards the end have come to recognise it as such. Later poems show a more fully communal, hospitable, and enmeshed voice, still critical but much more collaborative in tone. In this poem, the storms capable of disrupting the collaboration are not conscripted as a pathetic fallacy device, but as a separate, non-anthropomorphic element capable of leaving its own mark on the collection’s content and shaping what can or cannot be said. Discussing storms as a form of transformation in colonial Australian writing, Paul Carter notes how:

If clear and settled skies were associated with Progress, with political order and clear-sightedness, then storms signified the breakdown of order and rebellion ...  Stormy weather precipitated the breakdown of character. Social divisions grew ragged and haemorrhaged. What had been enclosed was disclosed; what imprisoned, released (1996: 262-3).

Here the collection draws on storms both as literal actors (washing away addresses and words, causing letters, postcards, and poetry lines to be lost) and figuratively, as that which breaks down borders between things. In this way the collaborative voice aims to acknowledge the way 'performance occurs between the constructions of nature and culture, in the very moment of their coconstruction' (Bealer 2012: 7). This has also been undertaken to critique views that mistake one for the other, or that do not recognise the ways in which both of these are created through texts, literally and symbolically, in ways that have a significant influence not only on the text itself, but its reception and the ways in which it interacts with the world.

The next poem to appear in this sequence stages the next step in this thought; the environment is linked with the process of loss and recovery, breakage, and manipulation of damaged texts. By shifting away from the personal, human inconvenience and creative concern of a lost text, 'Washed Margins' draws on imagery of 1950s Hong Kong, as well as the sepia ink drawn from cuttlefish, to reflect another, more geographical, process of questionable progress and communication. Simultaneously, a more unified collaborative voice is presented, united in discomfort at this image of environmental tension:           

Washed Margins

Sepia postcard: record these lies
colour banked, no reserve
we deplete and there are
ramps onto refuse.
This hillside a spine that cracks: vertebrae give in to concrete pressure,
we hold ourselves as pages turn
to be pressed into curls behind glaze
and we cannot erase ourselves.<
Perhaps like cuttlefish sepia pigment
we will wander bent margins, feeling each crease
like a kiss and a curse.
Ferry fans, frilled lizard bluff
forget
slopes lost in this darkness of unlit harbour
no Avenue of Stars—yet
and we’re buried in smudged white spaces—the heft of an inked progress.
Bridges have snaked over quiet water
and we run to each new end
finding cursive under changing skies, fifty years of history industry
smothering geography, filling edges
that we must struggle to toe—
carrying excavation on our backs, turtle-intent
no common ground
and even the sea is being dredged.

The transition between historical periods is enacted on the back of a damaged postcard, signalling not only the shift of lost text, but also the environmental destruction and the rise and fall of buildings on the Hong Kong harbour side. The speakers’ own complaints about missing texts are pushed aside, as the far more broadly ranging implications of rapid urbanisation are revealed through the conduit of the poem itself. The industrialisation of Hong Kong recurs throughout Speaking Geographies as a focal point, representative of intense communal experiences and the collaborative construction of monuments, but also the lamentable degradation of natural areas in the pursuit of such achievements.

Unlike Speedfactory in which connections made between water are often through human-created forms, here the ways in which water is controlled by humans, both physically and textually, becomes one of the most significant aspects of the poem. Any connection made through the water in this poem is troubled by the way this is contaminated, or deliberately imposed, through human construction. This engagement is emphasised by shifts in collaborative voice, articulated on varying stages that alternately celebrate and condemn human engagements with the natural world.

Space is both natural and unnatural, caught between environmentalist concerns and human development, but also working as a symbolic collaborative space for the increasingly more connected speakers’ voices. This links well with Iain Chambers commentaries on Paul Carter’s work when considering the relationship between space and voice in poetry:

Here place provides not an idle excuse for theoretical departures and homecomings, but rather, in researching and receiving its overlapping narratives and shifting grounds, the glimpse of a delicate geo-graphy, hesitant, incomplete, destined for decay and subsequent reworkings. In this palimpsest of languages, lives and time, the land, in its rugged materiality, insists. Its insistence, however, is not that of a perpetual truth but rather one of a temporal frame whose confines and borders set limits that simultaneously nurture the potential of transit. (2006: 60)

In ‘Washed Margins’, as well as in other poems throughout Speaking Geographies, shifting spaces are emblematic of not only alternating voices, but also a burgeoning sense of human responsibility for wrongs committed against the environment, as well as the urge to cease such harmful activities, and acknowledging the difficulties involved in doing so. By moving between different spaces and times, throughout the collection, the poetic speakers move towards a stronger sense of communal engagement and solidarity with this aim. These palimpsestuous voices evolve to meet the needs of the spaces engaged through acts of listening and directly assessing images, shifting pronouns, and staging a poetic engagement that is simultaneously personal and politically motivated.

As layers of speaking voices and lost/found poems are generated, layers of environmental impacts also start to stack up in the background, creating another layer of criticism and concern which, like Dillon’s idea of palimpsestuousness, is always present in a way that is both separate and intimate. This sense of voice, created through collaboration, becomes performative as it enacts its own creation as a poem, and foregrounds the creation of this place as a performance over time. The co-construction of nature and culture in both processes, influencing places as well as individual poems, become deliberately foregrounded through the poem’s use of collaborative voice. This is not an unproblematised process, however, as the poets question the ways in which human industry is imposed on places, while also questioning the ways in which words help to create, shape, and then ‘record’ this through the poem. Indeed the link between a physical and a textual place becomes unsettling as forms of writing become obvious in the physical landscape, 'finding cursive under changing skies', and the origins of ink and paint in cuttlefish and 'inked progress' suggest a dark side to creation that is based on exploitation of the natural world. It is this critique, enacted through a palimpsestuous collaborative voice that opens up places and culture through textual performance in a way that seeks to present both an ecocritical and collaborative vision of places, voices and texts.


Conclusion

Collaborative writing and ecocritical thought are both invested in the voice of texts, often in innovative ways. By drawing on Nelson’s idea of the malleability of voice and Dillon’s idea of palimpsestuousness, we have argued that collaborative texts form a special sense of voice, and that this foregrounds its own creation. For Bealer the performative potential of texts that deal with personal narratives and place is an exciting development for ecocritical studies, and here we have linked this with the collaborative voice of two texts, Speedfactory and Speaking Geographies. In foregrounding their own creation deliberately by concentrating on voice and often place, these collections investigate the moments of co-creation between nature and culture, poets and other poets, the text and the reader, as well as the collections and the poems themselves. By drawing on the potential in both collaboration and ecocritical thought, these collections aim to create something new that is not necessarily neat or finished, but comes to the reader with all its seams showing, begging to be unpicked, stitched up and worn through. The emerging voices are palimpsestuous, standing together and apart, in the name of environmental concerns in the cases of both poetry collections examined. By self-consciously performing their own creation and that of the places they engage with, Speaking Geographies and Speedfactory invite the reader to be part of the game, even if no one knows all the rules.

 

 

Works cited: 

 

Bealer, A 2012 ‘Reading Out Loud: Performing Ecocriticism as a Practice of the Wild’, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 19: 1, 5-23

Carter, P 1996 The Lie of the Land, London; Boston: Faber and Faber

Chambers, I 2006 ‘The Stones in Language’, Southerly 66: 2, 58-65

Chen, C, MacLeod, J  and Neimanis A 2013 ‘Introduction’, in C Chen, J MacLeod and A Neimanis (eds) Thinking with Water, Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press

Cohen, B, Kinsella, J, Wark, M and White T 2002 Speedfactory, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press

Dillon, S 2007 The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory, London; New York: Continuum

Hodge, S and McFarlane, R Speaking Geographies (unpublished manuscript)

Nelson, E 2013 ‘Writing as Method: Depth Psychological Research and Archetypal Voice’, International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 7: 3, 330-42

Pollock, D 1998 ‘Performing Writing’, in P Phelan and J Lane (eds) The Ends of Performance, New York: NYU Press, 73-103