Issue 18: Dorothy Alexander
(Tom Raworth Memorial)
I have a memory of Tom Raworth demonstrating a poem that he’d transcribed into the mechanical notation of a metal-pin musical box. I found this notion of transmutation into another medium intriguing and exciting. At this time I was becoming very involved in process as a generator of creative work. My Ph.D., titled Singing the Void, had as one of its main ideas the movement of sound coming out of silence, out of the void, through language/oral tradition to the written word and hypothetically back into silence as visual art or screen-based communication.
In Singing the Void, poems became increasingly visual as a result of process, much of it random, some of it meticulously ordered. In a post-doctoral project exploring the fusion of these experimental techniques with those of oral tradition, original ways of using found processes resulted in vocabularies being mined from prose micro-narratives based on oral memoirs from the Scottish Borders Millennium Project to write short poems from which new vocabularies were then mined to produce more short poems, and this process repeatable ad infinitum. Lips Sigh Red came out of this process; it came out of the memoir of a local woman who was denied a secondary education by her father and sent to work in the mills.
Lips Sigh Red also exists as a filmpoem.
Dorothy Alexander is a writer, filmmaker and former tutor of Creative Writing for the University of Strathclyde. She has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. An enthusiastic proponent of found techniques and visual poetry, she has recently published a novel – The Mauricewood Devils, Freight, 2016. Further information available at www.dorothyalexander.co.uk