This month in association with 3am magazine and Maintenant the Icelandic Embassy in London is hosting an evening of readings by four Icelandic poets – Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, Ragnhildur Jóhanns, Jón Örn Loðmfjörð and Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl – with responses presented on the evening by eight British poets. As one of the British contributors I’ve been looking at the work of Ragnhildur Jóhanns, whose interview was posted yesterday at maintenant.co.uk > poetry. Here’s an image of one of her poems:
The disruption and reassembly of her cut-up books brings to mind the line drawings I first wrote about here and here and later compiled for AS LINE. These line drawings – lines drawn between things and pages – are attempts to write things down, or keep them, in a way that words cannot. The lines either begin from the page and stretch out until they reach their object, like extruded words that lack the marked separation of language from the materiality of the object; or they begin at things and then land on the page, extending the materiality of the object all the way to the paper and landing there as material things rather than referential words. And of course once the lines have been drawn their original directions no longer show, and so they hover between referentiality and materiality.
For my reading I’m tempted to reserve a small portion of wall space on either side of the room and draw the lines of a poem between them. It’ll mean fixing a blank sheet of paper to one wall and another to the wall immediately opposite (each framed, with no glass) and walking between them drawing a series of unbroken lines from wall to wall. I’ll carry the lines between the walls in a notebook, and as I carry them I will crimp and curl and form them into words. The words will move with me across the room as I write them into position, and as the pencil moves across the page it will move across the room too, and up, and over, in arches and valleys following my hold on the book.
This evening I’ve been experimenting. Below is a spread from my book of line drawings which I’m borrowing for the purpose. I touched the pencil lead to one wall, pushed the book up against the wall and drew a line from wall to page. With the line on the paper I carried the book to the other wall, pushed it against the wall, and drew the line back off the paper and onto the second wall. Between walls, I used the line as words:
(These words aren’t a poem, they’re just temporary words. And ignore the bird, it’s showing through from the page behind.)
I’m not sure yet what will remain after the event to constitute the poem. Words will be written on the pages of the notebook, though I anticipate composing these words in advance to recite and transcribe from memory on the night, so the words themselves are not the entirety of the poem. The poem comprises the words, their movement about the page, the marks they leave at either shore, and the movements of the book about the room which, after all, are the movements of the lines of text.
And I wonder whether the two pages from either wall might ever meet, and whether one day they might be sellotaped together, forcing the pairs of apprehended ends to join and eschew the interim lines of words.