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

spm, . the tricking post . blows up the idea of the love letter. what is it about this form that drew you in and when did you realise you were on to something truly amazing?

i’ve always adored the love letter, or rather it’s modern counterpart, the love text. there’s something so highly personable about them. and yes, i have gone through entire relationships saving every text message in an effort to map the trajectory of the relationship. but there’s the rub right there – people don’t write letters anymore. we text. we tweet. we status update. at the most we email. but we don’t actually write. not letters. and not by longhand it seems.

so the idea of writing letters for the public space seemed appropriate. but no-one wants to read about a normal life – we have twitter and facebook for that. no, they want to read about the car crash that is your life. and better slow motion car crash than the break up of a relationship.

i wouldn’t say i knew i was on to anything truly amazing either. well… not until the letters were written and posted up in public spaces. that’s when people started addressing them to other people. to be honest i never expected people to do that. there was a certain thrill when they did though. so i’d say it was people’s reactions that amazed me, not the letters themselves… which is kinda how i live my life: i’m constantly amazed by the people who surround me and whom find themselves attracted to what i do.


so people have actually addressed these letters to other people and sent them off? that is wild. are there any specific stories you can tell about that? how did you first find out?

addressed is the right term, yes, but the letters were already posted, as it were. i lugged 36ix plus A0 print outs through the midnight streets of post-industrial hoon ridden newcastle, indisputably our nation’s most cultural city. i posted the letters at intervals, already determined by a map i had developed back home. i love maps you see. jung always told me that in order to achieve happiness in adulthood, you should mimic that which brought you the greatest joy as a child. as a child, i loved drawing maps. i would have married a map if marriage had (& now was/is/ever when) been something i had thought about it. but it wasn’t. cartography was, however. i obsessed over imaginary maps of imaginary worlds. so armed with my own i ventured forth to complete what was then known as The Trickster’s Bible, The Trickster’s mask you see on the cover here a marker as to where to post a poem as act of vandalism. all predetermined. a bad move, considering how hillock newcastle wills it.

elaboration is a friend here.

i obsess over street art more than maps. although the 2wo are the same. i had recently discovered a performative form of street art: parkour. the parkour logic was simple – let us travel through the city in the least moves possible, even if that means we flip & climb & sidewind over the pedestrians & furniture. the leader of parkour path is called a traceur, or tracer in olde mOther tongue. they trace the path of least resistance. to travel, 1ne must know how to compile tricks. tricks build up into moves. a move can comprise of many tricks, a trick evolving in difficulty & stratagem from A to B to C, naturally. the traceur learns their tricks from the holy tome of parkour, The Tricking Bible.

can you begin to see how the horizon arrived here now?

so… what would happen if instead of travelling through the city with ease, you were travelling with disease, a septic heart, a stalker’s want & need for that which is imaginary. what if The Trickster, the loveable loki, that dear old poe crow, mr miserable with being a god with only the power to cause mayhem & not thunderbolts, gotta hold of The Tricking Bible. what if they used it to clamber & stumble faster after you. what if in their wake they ached their bleeding heart across the landscape. what if every secret you had forged together suddenly spilt out & became public.

notice the lack of rhetoric. this wasn’t a hypothetical. it was hyper unethical.

the bible remained. it was holy then. now, it’s for the masses. the gods are all dying anyway.

so yes… the letters were posted that night. the following morning they addressing had occurred. i first found out by retracing my own traceur but in reverse. comrade in crime, foreword writer & the most feared man in electrocabaret, mr tomás ford accompanied both at night & the following day. by this point – & a near fatal arrest by the fuzz on the very last poem posted – he hated my guts. which was understandable. i hated me too by this point – exertion & effort are my least favourite things you see. but when we saw the blue texta scrawl of some poor unfortunate souls name after the dear ________, mr ford’s life lit back up. he gushed all over the pavement & my shoes. as mentioned before, this is what i strive for more than anything: the reactions people have to what i do.

no, i did not expect these people to address the post & resend it, i suppose, but i was glad they did. i have photos somewhere i can dig out for you if you so like.

does that make sense? i’m sure there are gaps – there should always be gaps. that’s why we write poetry… to give the gaps something to say.

. the tricking post . is available now at Black Rider Press

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