The Trickster’s Mask: an interview with Scott-Patrick Mitchell (part ii)

Part i of my interview with SPM, left us talking about images of letters being posted around hoon-ridden Newcastle… so where to from here? Read on tricksters, read on!

I would love to see a photo or two! And I love the idea of gaps; the holes and silences in this world are so often overlooked. What role do these gaps play in your creative process? What is at the heart of invention for SPM?

the heart of invention is a brooding mass of potential. but in order to access that mass, and bridge the gaps, i find my creative process – and sometimes my life at large – is defined by rule-sets.

now, these are by no means definitive rule-sets, such as if A occurs then B is most likely to be followed by C, but only if the outcome is D. rather, they are a lot faster and loose, the most essential rule that i abide by at all times, and have done since i started writing poetry, being the simplest golden rule of all: be the experiment.

there is no point wondering what will happen if 1ne were to do something. wondering is akin to wandering, yes, but if you wander too far will you remember where you started from, accurately? therefore, 1ne should commit to making a thing happen if there is a wonderment about it, and the only that can occur is by giving yourself over – entirely – to the creative process. this rule has seen me spend my entire undergrad course reading no poetry written prior to the 20th century, to see what effect the cannon would have if it were relieved of its need to influence – to see if what its absence would yield and how my poetry would differ as a result. this rule is also responsible for me listening only to music exclusively from northern europe for the last half of 2006ix, plus spending a year inside a living art project called The Chaochamber, at which point i lived with a chaos magician while he attempted to make the southern hemisphere’s largest attractor of chaos. needless to say, when the imaginary pet black cat we pretended to have actually became a real black cat, which was followed by a string of black cats coming into our thereafter, you begin to see the wonder and excitement of giving yourself over to the experiment, irrespective of how crazy that experiment may appear from the outside. life is far too dull otherwise not to live it with a sense of giddy abandon, don’t you think? and i gladly give art and poetry and fashion and film as much room as it needs in my world in the hope that i can be transported, often. and i am (plus i always find my way home).

but this rule, this be the experiment, is also responsible for all 3hree of my major collections to date, plus many others still being finely tuned. other rules, similar to this rule, are more instinctive than anything and include such rules as when in doubt, give (which is actually a lyric from a bjork song) or strive to be unique, never modern (because modern is common in this modern age) or you’ll know when it is wrong and my current favourite, the success of a day is measured in poetry.

the punctuated enjambment is also a result of this rule. as are all the other elements i construct inside my poems. my poetry, as a result, has developed an acoustical ecology of its own. by being, by making myself consciously present, consciously part of the poetry and the experiments it yields, i find the dark mass of potential defines its self more and more. the gaps between it and the pages on which it appears are spanned with more rules as they make themselves apparent. and it’s interesting, because while people typically find that rules box something in, ebb the potential of it growing, i am finding that the complete opposite is occurring – the rules provide more opportunities to escape the heart of invention. it’s not something i am trying to access after all… it’s something i’m trying to escape, it seems, or slip away from in the hope of providing those on the other side of the gaps with as many routes by which to access it.

which leads us back, again, to cartography.

the need to map is a need to remember. yes, we plot as we progress. but the map only makes sense when we have reached the destination. it’s only in ending that we appreciate the path back to the beginning. and since we constantly feel a need to begin something, we instinctively know that in doing so, we will end somewhere. i am 1ne of those people for whom the ending of a project – but not always a poem – has a definition even before it has begun. i begin with the end in mind. i know what shape it should take. it’s then a process of plotting a path in 2wo parts, 1ne that simultaneously begins from the start and moves back from the end. the convergence of these 2wo parts of the same path occurs in the middleground, the largest gap of all – that which is unknown, unheard, unseen until you arrive there. this is what the heart of invention yields – a structure across the space.

and the view from such a space is breathtaking, like poetry – it takes the breath and runs away with it.

or at least that’s what The Trickster has taught me. 1ne should always let oneself escape or runaway from oneself. it’s that sense of losing yourself to the process, to the act, to the experiment, to the project, that is the most satisfying of what we do – yes, it yields poetry and other people’s reactions. yes, it yields books and publicity. yes, it causes us to exert ourselves and use effort in the process. yes, it can exhaust us. yes, it pushes us on to create and take leaps of faith. but nothing is more exciting than being in the actual midst of it, of living it. after all, it’s why we always ask someone why they made something, what caused their act of creation – we want to move along their converging paths and catch a glimpse of that exhilarating middleground, the largest gap of all, and experience that rush of stepping out into the unknown and watching it define itself, materialise, actualise, provide a parkour for the soul, letting us leap and clamber over the landscape we discover there, just like the person who created it did when they first discovered it themselves.


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