Thursday, 13 January 2011

Flames of Creation

At the beginning of this week, @marousia and I embarked upon a poetry duet. We wanted to create a poem together but, rather than engaging in any meticulous planning, we merely agreed that we would go ahead.

Having identified ‘dragons’ as the only pre-meditated theme, we decided to build our poem publicly on Twitter using the hashtag #spacedragon.

Although I had previously collaborated on various academic papers, books, workshops etc I had never engaged in something so spontaneous. I felt excited, yet a little anxious: how would we begin our poem? And would my words be ‘up to the mark’?

After a little hesitation on my behalf, a posting arrived in my Twitter timeline from @marousia: ‘White dragon soars / past gilded domes / in the land / of perpetual summer’, followed by a further posting that said, simply, ‘Your turn’. Our poetic dance had begun.

Though our chosen style of writing was certainly influenced by contemporary Japanese verse it did not fall into any distinct poetic classification. It felt to be a blend of Renku (collaborative linked verse) and a rogue form of gogyohka (five lines - each line a speaking breath).

As our dragon-poem began to breathe and grow in people’s timelines, a number of them stepped onto the dance floor and joined us, courtesy of their encouraging comments and kind re-tweets. This was the beauty of creating in front of an audience, their soft applause providing ongoing encouragement for us both.

Over the space of three days (two writing ‘sessions’ of about three hours each), our collaborative poem evolved in the spaces between the huge time differential that separated us (@marousia lives in Melbourne, I live in England). There had been no preconceived writing plan to follow yet, amazingly, we danced to a tune that played simultaneously in both our hearts: same rhythm, same style, same tempo all wrapped up in a huge sense of fun. We waltzed with our words as though we had been dancing partners for a very long time, as each subsequent line of poetry became a marker on the dance floor for the next poetic step.

Perhaps even more astonishingly we, somehow, knew the direction of the poem, feeding off each other’s lines and setting each other up for the next contribution. And when @marousia posted the 23rd line of our collaboration we both knew that no further words were necessary. Our poem was now complete. We have called it ‘Flames of Creation’.

Flames of Creation

White dragon soars / past gilded domes / in the land / of perpetual summer

Fire streams / laced with dreams / roar / into the sunlight

White scales / kissed by sunbeams / spark / with many hues /miniature rainbows

Down below / people gasp / as falling cinders / become golden flowers / in their gardens

The air was thick / smokey frangipani scent / honeyeaters drank / sweet sticky nectar

Like twisting smoke / the dragon turns / its fiery eyes / burn like hot steel

From the east / a fleck appears / a song wafts / on the wind / white dragon smiles

Clouds shudder / the sky / begins to simmer / eons have passed / the moment has come

Red Phoenix arrives / soaring between / golden pink clouds / dazzling / people below

Wing-lash / a storm of flames / and falling ash / the beasts / are dancing

Dragon swirls / a rondo / bows his head / swoops an arc / towards the ground

The hillside / tilts and trembles / as he lands / people scatter / beneath his fiery breath

Mayhem / through the crooked village streets/ white dragon laughs / on a tower balcony / appears a wizard

Avada Kedavra / turquoise comets spin and zing / in the wizard's eyes / the dragon takes / a mighty breath

And spirals up / flying eastward / diamond tears fall from dragon's eyes / people scramble / Phoenix drops a feather

Wizard's wand / catches sunbeams in each swish / skies blacken / thundercrash / the phoenix falls

People gasp / electricity crackles / in their hair / silver sparkles in the air / Wizard smiles

The dying bird / screams in pain / sweet gasps of frankincense / flitter like final kisses / from its beak

Eyes glaze over / Phoenix stretches wings / iridescent flames / magenta, green and white / a pile of ashes

Whilst on a mountain top / in Tyana / an egg cracks / in a nest of / scented embers

A tiny beak / with a golden hook / emerges from the crack / Dragon senses magic / swiftly flies / towards Tyana

Dragon arrives / peels of laughter / cascade down the mountain / then stillness / rebirth

Dragon's breath / gently tickles feathers / red wings and white entwined / yin and yang / forever bonded


  1. Wow...Awesome. Quite creative and vivid masha Allah..Enjoyed reading every word. What an amazing collaborative creative effort, Peter.

  2. Thank you for your lovely, positive comments.Very much appreciated. So pleased you enjoyed our poetic duet.

  3. What a wonderful exercise, Peter. It really does feel like a verbal waltz, doesn't it? My favorite lines: Whilst on a mountain top / in Tyana / an egg cracks / in a nest of / scented embers

    A tiny beak / with a golden hook / emerges from the crack / Dragon senses magic / swiftly flies / towards Tyana

    I can hear the egg crack somehow, and see the golden hook, also love the idea of a Dragon hearing magic.

    Well done. Thanks for the lovely post.

  4. Thanks for your lovely comments, Heidi. So pleased you connected with it. It was such a pleasure creating 'Flames' with @marousia. She is such a brilliant dancing partner.

  5. Fantastic Duet Peter and Marousia. Well done. Very passionate.

  6. Thank you Quirina. And thank you for your tweeted comments too. I really appreciate them all.

  7. Many thanks Sean. It certainly felt as though @marousia & I were writing in complete harmony as we created our poem.

  8. That was beautiful to read! It's especially nice reading both blogs too; I missed the emergence on Twitter and this conveys some of the energy that must have been swirling! Wonderful :o)

  9. Thanks for your lovely comments, Helen. There did feel to be a lot of energy created by & between @marousia & myself as our poem gradually emerged - and so much synchronicity, as if we were unconsciously plugged into each other's thought channels.