A note on: in Amsterdam to watch Diamanda Dramm, a timeline of our collaboration

Timelines are rubbish. But, when one hasn’t the words for something mysterious, perhaps formulas come into their own.

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Monday March 26th 2018 : in Dublin, for Phonica, musicians and poets performing together. I feel sick and drift out of attention. Diamanda Dramm plays though and I see her work very powerfully set itself aside as something else. She dragons up on people. I have no context for the technique talent of being a violionist or whatever, but she’s using (bad) old poetry alongside, singing. She’s no wearing any shoes. I do a thing which people seem to see, I eat an apple etc… and afterward meet her and her father, who is also a (brilliant, I later find, researching) musician. They are both very nice, to go with the talent. How attractive are collaborations with other humans when they don’t do what you do and can confound what you do and realise your own suspicions about your work being pointless and sad and an endless arrangement of jumbled words very very few people care to read. How motivating.

March to September, spring to autumn 2018 : Diamanda and I begin a correspondence. She sends me an audio recording of her setting one of my poems, The Tradition, to herself and song. It’s quite moving, to have this kind of gift. I reciprocate and send her poems. I bury them away after sending, they are not going to be published elsewhere, I don’t read them once the email attachment attaches and the email disappears. But they seem to land somewhere. I keep getting audio files back, putting them on my mp3 player. Somehow something I once marked down is resurrected, edited, interpreted, better than before, like a dead pet returned to life. Diamanda is putting together a tour, a solo one woman show, which knits music written for her by Garth Knox with Dutch creation myths and of course a massive wooden lungbox that is her violin and how she plays it. She includes some of my poems, which is stranger still.

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October 13th 2018 : Diamanda and I meet for a second time and collaborate for European Poetry Festival. The digital curtain is drawn back and will the exchange of poems into songs be able to keep its jelly walls intact? It seems so. It’s fun, Diamanda is a brilliant performer and we make fun of it.

November 29th 2018 : I travel to Amsterdam for one night to witness the start of Diamanda’s Violin Spaces tour at Bimhuis. It is clearly a marked moment in her career. The venue is quite extraordinary, set over the water, huge letters denoting itself, which I see in the distance walking towards it in a rainstorm which is pleasing. It’s a blackbox jazzclub. Diamanda is clearly famed in Holland and Europe in general. Her separation of herself from her skill with the violin is admirable, but she still has that skill and that separates us in a profitable way. I arrive a little early and see that some of my visual poems, specifically my Scribbling and Scrawling, which Diamanda obtusely requested is projected onto the stage and over her face, for significant portions of the show. This is the most graceful and considerate use of my visual works ever. The show itself is mesmerising. I’m quite wordless, but write some things during it. The energy it requires, the multiplicity of skills, the idiosyncrasy, the technique, it’s bizarre. Three or four times during the show, the opening, near the closing, in its heart, are my texts. The resurrection of the dead pet has now become a human, or pet, the dead poet pet, the collective platonic resurrection. I did once write these words, likely in my pants, sat on my bed, a long time past, in a tiny corner, but I might’ve well as not have. But here they are sung back to me. I feel the show, without sounding insane, is at times for me, and I am moved. How did I end up with this fortune that this stupid stuff lives on in the mouths of others? Diamanda is rightly celebrated and mobbed afterwards. Garth Knox has travelled, like me, to support. It’s a really resonant, transitory experience.

Here’s more info on Diamanda’s show https://diamandadramm.com/spaces/

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