Call for Submissions: Mutating the Signature
With our group I think it’s never been super easy to write new songs mainly because all four of us contribute to the writing, so each piece kind of has to run a gauntlet with each member taking whacks at the thing. A great majority of the songs don’t survive the hazing, but we do work really hard at pushing ourselves to a different space each time — we kind of like trying to mutate the signature.
— Guy Picciotto, Fugazi
Some artistic pursuits — film, music, theater, glass-making — require more than one participant. Others — such as poems, short stories and paintings — seem to demand solitary struggle. To put forth the notion that a group might write a sonnet or paint a portrait is to invite conflict with established views of the artist and artistic creation. We recognize and celebrate the possibilities that this conflict offers. To assume certain arts must solely, and by definition, be the product of a singular, lonely process is to be arbitrarily cut off from the vital promise of collaboration.
The first qarrtsiluni theme for 2009 is “Mutating the Signature,” with guest editors Dana Guthrie Martin and Nathan Moore. We’re issuing the call for submissions now, a month before the end of the current issue, because of the extra work involved in preparing a submission. The deadline is January 15, and the issue will run from January through March if we get enough material. What Nathan and Dana are asking contributors to do is work collaboratively to hone and shape their submissions, and also to submit process notes:
We define collaborative work as two or more writers working on a specific written piece, a writer and an artist working together on an ekphrastic piece, or two or more artists working together on a piece of visual art. In short, we want submissions where two or more contributors are actively working together. We are not interested in passive collaborations, such as pulling a photo off the internet and writing a poem in response to it. All parties involved in the collaboration should be working together in the creation of the final piece.
Because process is so important to collaboration, for this issue, we are asking that you share process notes in addition to your submissions. How did you work together to create the piece? What stumbling blocks did you encounter? What survived the hazing, what didn’t, and why? How did you feel your signature was mutated by those with whom you were collaborating? What did you learn from the experience? In this way not only do we get the finished piece, but we get the swing of the hammer and the rasp of the saw as well.
With this issue of qarrtsiluni, we want to emphasize the gnarly, brilliant, iterative, process-oriented mess that is the heart of any collaborative artistic endeavor. We hope you will join us.
Please limit submissions of poetry to five poems. Essays and stories should be less than 3,000 words, and process notes should be less than 500 words. We will continue our pattern of publishing audio versions of text pieces, and will work with authors after acceptance to produce such recordings. But we also welcome submissions of audio — for example, combinations of original music and spoken word. And video is another medium that seems ideal for creative collaboration. Please see our general guidelines for details on how to submit.
The editors for this issue have collaborated extensively on poetry over the past six months, publishing the results on their respective blogs as well as on The Poetry Collaborative site, which Dana took the lead role in launching earlier this year. This marks her second editing stint for qarrtsiluni — she also edited our Hidden Messages issue a year ago with co-editor Carey Wallace. Three of her poems have appeared in past issues of qarrtsiluni, one of them a collaboration with filmmaker Donna Kuhn, and her poems have also been published in Boxcar Poetry Review, Coconut, Fence, Failbetter and Weave Magazine, among others.
Nathan Moore is a newcomer to qarrtsiluni; we have a poem he co-authored with Dana in the publication queue for the current issue. He is a father of three, a poet and a painter. He spent seven years working full time in a photograph factory while getting an undergraduate degree in English literature at Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania, then spent the next six years working on a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In 2000 he found The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and left the academy. He writes a weekly collaborative prompt feature for Read Write Poem.
— Dave Bonta and Beth Adams
Update/Afterthought: If you need help finding a collaboration partner, feel free to use the comments thread to post a “wanted” notice.