Flight Mode

Jen Webb, Shé Hawke

Research output: Textual Creative WorksPoem/s


Poetry is typically considered a solitary art, where individuals avoid the contaminating effects of a Bloomian ‘influence’, and work alone, charting their own paths through “the world of private emotion”. This can be considered a lingering trace of John Locke’s concept of language: that ‘words, in their primary or immediate signification, stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them’—a concept that continues to have some traction, two centuries on.
All the same, poets frequently collaborate: less often as co-authors; very often as beta readers of each other’s work, and in the give and take of images, ideas and attitudes. Published works by individual poets reflects this sort of relationality: a poem typically appears in a journal or anthology under one author’s name but due to the effect of juxtaposition, it reads in a loose conversation with other poems. Occasionally poets co-author work; a famous example is Ralentir Travaux (1930), by André Breton, Paul Eluard and René Char; but only a handful of other collaborations have found their way to publication.
Similarly rare is a third mode of collaboration: joint publications of two discrete voices between one set of covers. An early example is Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads. Australian examples include Jamie Grant and Graeme Kinross-Smith’s Turn Left at Any Time With Care (1975), and Radar by Kevin Brophy and Nathan Curnow (2012). Reviewers sometimes seem to struggle to identify why and how the parts fit together but, responding to Radar, Dan Disney reaches for “Rimbaud’s cri de cœur, ‘Je suis l’autre’”. Though we do not make such a claim about our joint publication, which braids together different poetic styles in different voices, they join in the interstices crafted by shared experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Typeco-authored collection
Media of outputtextual
PublisherRecent Work Press
Number of pages89
Place of PublicationCanberra
VolumeRWP 82
ISBN (Print)9780648936749
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


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