Saturday, 26 July 2008

Kirsten Irving Double-Bill

Fuselit's editor, Kirsty, will be on stage twice today. She's performing at 14 Hour: Afternoon Mutiny, which starts at 3.00pm at St Aloysius Social Club, 20 Phoenix Road, NW1, London. Then, at 7.30pm, there's The Shuffle, hosted in the Studio at The Poetry Cafe on Betterton Street, London again. Works she'll be performing include BangBangSuperGun, Orniphobic roundel and What possess someone to get Myra Hindley and Ian Brady portrait tattoos.

Come soon, come quick, concomitant.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Where have we been?

The entire Cut Out & Keep posse has been on holiday to Cornwall, where we barbecued on the beach, watched hawks, gorged on cream tea and ice cream, walked along clifftop paths at night and attempted to reconstruct the various broken pieces of board games we found in a cupboard in the cottage we were staying in. I should perhaps have mentioned this before we went. What's important, however, is that we are back and planning future content, as well as beginning to put together Fuselit: Aquarium with a September release in mind. The deadline for submissions is up! However, we are now calling for submissions for Fuselit's 14th issue, which will be entitled Mars. Full submission guidelines here.

Things to look out for on this blog in the near future:
  • More poet top trumps.
  • A 'behind the scenes' look at the Fuselit sweatshop.
  • Another back issue of Fuselit rendered as a Make-Your-Own version. This time it will be issue 2, Catapult.
  • More poetry reviews.
  • Commemorative paper plates (possibly).
  • A downloadable, printoffable adventure board game as a build up to the launch of Aquarium.
  • Information about forthcoming shows Kirsty and myself will be performing at.
Keep your ear to the ground!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Plagiarism begins at home

Plagiarism is the bane of any school or university faculty's life, with special officers often assigned to weed out the copy'n'paste brigade and shoot on sight. One lecturer, in fact, told us straight up in week one not to bother because this was her job and she was very, very good at it. So it was with some trepidation, two years ago, that I suggested to my dissertation supervisor I might want to plagiarise for my poetry project.

The idea for Covering Tracks came from an excellent poetry class taught by Daniel Kane, in which Ted Berrigan and his Final Sonnet reared their cheeky heads. In case you're not familiar, Berrigan rounds off his collection of sonnets by lifting and appropriating chunks of another text, dropping them into his poem without a hint of acknowledgement. Not just any old obscure text either. What's one of the most famous fictional closings you can think of? Try Prospero's final speech from The Tempest.

A Final Sonnet
For Chris

How strange to be gone in a minute! A man
Signs a shovel and so he digs Everything
Turns into writing a name for a day
is having a birthday and someone is getting
married and someone is telling a joke my dream
a white tree I dream of the code of the west
But this rough magic I here abjure and
When I have required some heavenly music which even now
I do to work mine end upon their senses
That this aery charm is for I'll break
My staff bury it certain fathoms in the earth
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
It is 5:15 a.m. Dear Chris, hello.

My favourite part is that the content reflects the means. Prospero is surrendering his staff and magical powers, giving up ownership of the island he had appropriated himself only a few years previously. The text in turn is given up to the winds. Yes, granted, Berrigan had little cause to fear Shakespeare's lawyers in the 1960s, but still, a bold move, considering how canonised Shakey is in literature.

Like Berrigan, I wanted to take phrases I liked straight out of other texts and mutate them to my own ends. I decided to use each as the title of a poem and start from there (now you're seeing where FuseLit's spurword schtick originated - I get ridiculous writer's block). Luckily my supervisor was sympathetic and I lived to graduate.

In the age where you can download movies which haven't yet waved a hanky to the cinema (sure, it's illegal but with broadband and a market nothing can stop it), or spoof mercilessly on YouTube, theft of material and plagiarism is all around. Sometimes this is detrimental to the original ,but a lot of the time, it's also very fertile and the 'cutting' taken from the original can become a distinct piece on its own. There's something reassuringly familiar in spotting the reference, but which allows for alienation, comedy, shock or intrigue when the differences begin to manifest themselves. Sometimes it has the effect of an in-joke we're actually in on, sometimes, as in Freud's notion of the uncanny, it's the unfamilar in the familiar that can spook us.

It's also, of course, always satisfying to see the stale notion of The Author get unseated from its plinth. I'm not talking about simply copying the text verbatim and cashing in, but instead about cutting and rearranging, discarding bits, refreshing the material, sampling, trimming, inserting, juxtaposing and collaging. The Lars Ulrichs of this world, precious about their material to the point of Scroogedom, should probably realise that it has to leave the nest to get noticed, and that somewhere along the way, someone else might have a use for it that you didn't intend, but which could prove awesome.


As a sidenote, but not completely unrelated, The Forest just closed submissions for their Stolen Stories project. Hopefully they'll be running another soon. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Speech Rack Ignition

You may have read about my arm injury in the report on the Fox launch party. It's still not right unfortunately - but one of the joys of it is that I have had to to learn the magic of computer speech recognition in order to write.

While it generally works pretty well (and it gets better as it gets used to how you speak), it is fun what a mangle it can make of things - especially if, instead of adopting a robotic Hawkingesque monotone, you speak into it with a bit of passion. Such as you might when reading out literature (or "this trip chef victor chow" to use the software's preferred phrase). So I tried reading out a few passages.

This for starters:
and they're reading never officially things to say thanks to the safety
on the palate busted pilot just a mime chambered all
and his eyes of all the scene of the daemon that is true meaning
and the LAN manager who's treating France's should draw
my soul from out-of-the lines for him on the floor
Shelby listed never mall.
Hold the mouse over here to see where this is from.

Here is another:
April as a congressman free to
our necks out of the gentle and mixing
them into such a stir
until point that's thing
that I can win tickets will cover
the effort to get full senate seat in
illicit life after Judas.
Answer here - though if you're at all familiar with it, the first word should give it away.

It does throw up some interesting phrases - there's something nice about the almost tautological "mixing / them into such a stir" and I'm really looking forward to my illicit life after Judas. I hope it involves the LAN manager from the previous effort.

now enjoying
of Austin the east to use Younglove
the minors and friends in the milk of their duties
to strive to be interested in one can you say to draw
of certain lot Clinton your sister's
nothing untoward
nothing will, of nothing speak again
in happiness I am I cannot keep
my heart and my mouth I love your majesty
according to Michael and memorial no less.
Here is the answer - the speech recognition seems pretty good at picking up the word "nothing" at least. Actually that one was pretty close - and a little less interesting for it. I hope it doesn't learn too quickly!


Just wanted to add - in case you fancy having a play, Word 2003 has speech recognition built in (go 'tools > speech to set it up'), as does *cough* Windows Vista. You can also download a simple application from here as part of the Microsoft speech development kit. I don't know what's available for free for GNU/Linux or Macs, but if anyone does an informative comment would be much appreciated!

You're suppose to use a good quality microphone (preferably USB) but as the object of the enterprise is for it to get as much wrong as possible, it probably doesn't matter.