Jeff Hilson and me at the Rich Mix in 2012, following the reading of our collaboration 'Honda Hands'. Photo courtesy of Alexander Kell.
The Ship’s Orchestra
Between 1979 and 1981 in Norwich I collaborated with Peter F. Stacey and a young Stevie Wishart in The Ship’s Orchestra, a new music-poetry unit that varied in size from duos to orchestra. (We also sang folk music together). We performed collaborations as well as pieces by Cage and Christopher Fox. Watch a recent marvellous video of Stevie here.
With Patricia Farrell
Largely worked as Ship of Fools, Patricia Farrell and I have published many booklets of our image-text collaborations, beginning with Mesopotamia in 1987, and continuing to today. (See Publications page for a listing.) A page from Fucking Time, London, 1994 is displayed at the bottom of this page. Ship of Fools had an exhibtion of its works at Edge Hill University in 2017 and here is a link to some photos of that.
With Jo Blowers
A number of pieces in and around Twentieth Century Blues were either developed or written especially for dance, movement and music performances, in collaboration with dancer and choreographer Jo Blowers, particularly poems from the ‘For Jo Blowers’ strand of that work.
As can be seen from Blues 63, which includes partial descriptions of two performances, I considered making these themselves part of the numbering. Performance details are incomplete but include, both full-scale presentations that sometimes did not involve me (marked below ‘No RS’) and also ‘chamber-style’ improvisations consisting of the two of us.
Full scale performances
27 May 1993: ‘Shutters’ (‘a movement based mixed-media work performed by six women. It includes voice, sound projections, steam and pyrotechnical images. It is about women, and the forms which have arisen out of the process of its making are both lyrical and violent’ (JB)). Performers: Polly Hudson, Josephine Liesk, Tracey West, Eava-Mama Mutka, Fernada Amaral, Lisa Harley. Photography: Aeden Kelly. Nosepaint at Woodwork, Vauxhall Spring Gardens, London. No RS.
24 September 1993: ‘Killing Boxes’ (early version of ‘Weightless Witnesses’, see below), The Art Funktion, The Shaw Room, The Peacocks, Woking, Surrey.
18 February 1994: ‘Weightless Witnesses’/‘Killing Boxes’, ‘Some of the piece is structured, but most is improvised. There are other sections, not shown this evening, that involve more voices and an installation with pyrotechnical images’. (JB). RS (Text and performance), Music by Gus Garside (bass and electronics), Movement: Jo Blowers and Tracey West. Directed by Jo Blowers, Chisenhale Dance Space, London.
17 June 1995: ‘Free Fists’, chiefly book 12 of The Lores (30), with Patricia Farrell (slides: images and documentary photographs), Writers Forum Workshop, Mornington Place, London. Combined with launch of Free Fists.
Both ‘Weightless Witnesses/Killing Boxes’ and ‘Shutters’ received full scale productions during the Arts Festivals at Brooklands College, Weybridge, Surrey, at least in 1993 and 1994; this is what I describe in Blues 63 (below).
18 July 1993: ‘Shutters’, Vertical Images, Mornington Place, London.
13 November 1993: ‘Killing Boxes’, Equipage/Microbrigade ‘20 poets in a 6 hour reading’, King’s College, Cambridge.
18 December 1993: unknown text, Sound and Language Party, Community Music, London.
1 May 1994: ‘Schräge Musik’, Live Art at The Café Gallery, Southwark Park, London. Lol Coxhill was on the same bill.
14 November 1995: ‘Shutters’, and ‘Weightless Witnesses’. Ship of Fools at the Falkland Arms, London. Combined with launch of The Book of British Soil (with Patricia Farrell).
22 September 1996: probably including ‘Fucking Time’, 15, Torriano Meeting House, London.
17 November 1998: ‘New Killing Boxes’, (final version of ‘Weightless Witnesses’) consisting of 20, 28, 55; ‘Entries’, consisting of 34, 52; Rose Theatre, Edge Hill College of Higher Education. This is described in Blues 63, here:
Reading while Jo improvised at Edge Hill last year, a surprise visit. Ventriloquial deletions. I’d forgotten that it was agreed that Jo would speak part of the text, and I was slightly wrong-footed when I heard her quote, ‘He’s my commanding view,’ and I realised that Jo’s suspicion that she had been working for months with drafts of the poem was correct, since that line was no longer in the text, but was again for the text of its realisation: ‘Entries, Empty Diary 1996[’]
6 May 2013: 'Excitation for Jo Blowers', a public rehearsal in the Occupy Room of the Bluecoat, Liverpool, with Patricia Farrell as second voice.
Twice in the autumn of 2014 Jo Blowers, Steve Boyland and I performed a three voice piece (a text from A Translated Man treated) at 8 Water Street and Stoem and Golden Sky. See photos and details here.
On February 3rd 2016 Jo Blowers (with others) read 'Shutters' as part of the prelude to Inhabit, a three year dance project. (See here.)
With Bob Cobbing
First there was Codes and Diodes (Writers Forum 1991), a processual piece using the text and left-overs from my poetic introduction to Processual.
Then, a year before Cobbing’s death, there was Blatent Blather/ Virulent Whoops, a text written between Juky and October 2001, whose text may be read here. A video of Patricia Farrell and I reading a revival of the text at The Other Room may be visible soon on The Other Room website.
With Scott Thurston
Turns (Ship of Fools/The Radiator) 2003 was a slow to-and fro-ing collaboration undertaken over several years.
With Rupert Loydell
Risk Assessment (Damaged Goods, 2006) was a fast email exchange. I still have copies available free. Please email.
Sections of the text may be read here.
With Pete Clarke
With the Liverpool painter and print-maker (see his site here) I have been making prints which have been exhibited in the Poetry Library, Edinburgh and the National Gallery, Edinburgh (as part of the AHRC project Text Beyond Poetry, and at Kuntstraum Dreizwanzig in Cologne in Pete’s solo show. One of our prints, 'Twisted Scree' is displayed near the bottom of this page. It was runner-up for the 2013 Adrian Henri Prize. In April 2013 we mounted an exhibition, Manifest, at Edge Hill University. Details here.
In 2015 Pete produced these new prints. Here.
With Thomas Ingmire
Largely through the generous offices of David Annwn I have been working with the American calligrapher Thomas Ingmire, whose work may be seen here and here.
His adaptation of my poem ‘Afghanistan’ from Warrant Error may be seen here, but scroll to the bottom of the page.
With Jeff Hilson
Working very fast Jeff Hilson and I wrote ‘Honda Hands’ for the 2012 Rich Mix Collaboration. The performance may be seen and heard (and even believed) here.
With Zoe Skoulding
Zoe and I brought to life one of the creatures of René Van Valckenborch’s European Union of Imaginary Authors, the Cypriot poet Gurkan Arnavut. Here is Zoe reading the poems. (I was ill the night of the reading.) The poems are due for publication in Shearsman magazine.
With Robert Hampson
Liverpool Hugs and Kisses (published in 2015). See here for details and video.
With Dozens of others of the EUOIA
I am currently collaborating with many writers to bring the EUOIA to life. These are Jason Argleton, Joanne Ashcroft, Alan Baker, James Byrne, Alys Conran, Kelvin Corcoran, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Patricia Farrell, S. J. Fowler, Allen Fisher, Robert Hampson, Jeff Hilson, God’s Rude Wireless, Tom Jenks, Frances Kruk, Rupert Loydell, Steve McCaffery, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Sandeep Parmar, Simon Perril, Jèssica Pujol i Duran, Zoë Skoulding, Damir Šodan, Philip Terry, Scott Thurston, and René Van Valckenborch (and nearly all of them are real!)
See the previous page on Van Valckenborch for context and here.
With Ian McMillan
So here you can read our texts in their intertwinedness, on 3am Magazine. These two improvisational texts were written simultaneously between the hours of 19.00-20.00 on Monday 23rd January 2017, one in Liverpool, the other in Barnsley.
And here you can watch the brief video of Ian McMillan and Robert Sheppard reading their simultaneous writing in simultaneous rendition at the Leeds North by North West in early 2017.