POPULATION 148 Seth McKelvey & Chelsea Rice
The original poem is below.
The City of Between
narrow is the way
Between City Limits
Center lane yellow light Aristotelean Aristotle
inverted blink of a hubcap
inversed silver blink
flick the switch
turn one 0 to 1 or one one to zero
This poem spun out of a road trip I took with God one night. Intentional missed turns and sightless wandering along unfamiliar streets led me to the town of Between, Georgia, which struck me as profoundly appropriate to the poetics I had been thinking heavily upon at the time. The things I saw or didn't see in the dark there in that little town and the thoughts born(e) on those streets eventually made their way into this poem.
As for collaboration, I've been seeking a way to make difficult poems more accessible. I think difficult, confusing, opaque poetry is important, significant, and valuable, but rarely do I like reading it. This collaboration is one attempt to marry these two opposing aesthetics. I find it easier to listen to a musical utterance of a poem, such as this one, over and over, than I do rereading such a poem multiple times. I think this effect is very useful, as it allows the words more time to tumble around and marinate in one's mind before attention is diverted elsewhere.
This was our third collaboration together. I let Chelsea in on what I was thinking about the poem, and read it aloud for her a few times. She then composed the music in an effort to draw out the enjoyment of the words and deepen layering. I also asked Chelsea to read parts of the poem along with me, in an attempt to give up some portion of my own authorial control. However, as I wrote the poem in its entirety, is not meant as a dialogue, but rather two aspects of a single voice . Thus the reader for this poem exists somewhere in the space "between" Chelsea and myself. Our union of man and wife, two becoming one, certainly comes to mind when I think of this poem and collaboration. (SM)