Press free Press - Cremin & Ormonde discuss Ways of Describing Cuts

A generous and interesting responsive analysis of my recently published collaboration with Sarah Kelly has been tended to by Becky Cremin and Ryan Ormonde at Press Free Press:

"S Kelly & SJ Fowler / Robert Hampson - press free press RESPOND:

A new monthly series of active reading. Each month we choose two publications available to read in the Poetry Library - the selection is based on browsing and instinct. We are mostly interested in reading new work. In the library we each have 20 minutes to READ each publication. Outside the library we TALK and WRITE in response: TALKING (5 minutes) / WRITING (5 minutes) / READING each other / repeat x 4. Resulting 12 documents are unedited recordings of live TALKING and unedited transcriptions of live WRITING. 

1) S Kelly & SJ Fowler, 'Ways of Describing Cuts' / Robert Hampson, 'Out of Sight'


Thinking about physicality first, the object and how voice manifests itself in this object. It’s apt then that we think about single and plural voice and how this can manifest itself physically. Kelly and Fowler are in dialogue with each other, they are also in opposition; physically they come together at “drowning”, the physical space between them once vast is “cut” and merged. This action of cutting through the space to come together interests me. I wonder how they physically dealt with space, whether it is related to distance, or time, or a marker of separation between voice?

Hampson’s physicality comes in a slant, a block of slanted text justified and strong on the page, yet there is a difference between how it acts 


“how it acts” – is it one act – is it a single appearance? As with Fowler/Kelly there is still a sense of the linear. As with Mc Cafferye’s ‘Lag’ the text between commas presents a separate image or proposition, but it begins like a film treatment and ends with a full stop. In Hampson’s piece we always consider the text in relation to our understanding of a block of prose – a rather abstract detached notion – how about in Kelly/Fowler? Are we reading the text on its own terms or in relation to an existing model? Is the fact of two poets sharing the same book presented as a new


reading experience? The sharing and action of sharing is of concern, as are they sharing or working against each other? Perhaps what is more necessary to consider is not that there are two voices, but these two voices both claim the “I”. There is then a shifting “I” in the text which flits between female and male. Both voices are claiming the “I” for themselves; what impact does this have on the text and our experience of it? The “I” in this text speaks to each other, moves between each other; I’m interested in whether the “I” stays whole


Also, what does this do to the reader? A reader is often assuming the I of the text, relating to it. Should we pick a side here? We are asked to identify with both sides of a poetic dialogue but also to replace our notion of poet with “dialogue between two poets”. There is something exciting in this dialogue as it exposes process to a point and we feel each voice constricting and liberating the other. However, we still wonder about the directions the writing(s) takes when moving away from or towards this structure.


We are comparing a book with multiple pages with a single fold. A similarity that springs to mind is how in both cases there is resistance to the provided structure, so the dialogue between SJ Fowler and S Kelly is not played out on opposite pages but across an invisible horizontal divide that can disappear, and Hampson's text is printed across the fold and at an angle with the page, disrupting the visual experience of reading, from opening the fold to encountering the text, to reading the text.                                                                                                      cont'd....