Wednesday, 3 September 2008


I've been thinking about the difference between poets and prose writers working in a 'public' way. A public artist I spoke to a year or so ago said he always works with poets because it's easier. They write in such a condensed way you can fit it onto a physical sculpture much more easily. Fair enough, maybe, if we're talking about physical public art. I could make endless arguments about why prose writers can work as effectively, but as a prose writer myself, I feel slightly on the back foot and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's just that, because it's such a condensed and transportable form, poetry has been the more used literary form in this area of work.

I have just started a lovely project on the Greenwich Peninsula with the fantastic poet, Aoife Mannix. We're blogging about the process and sharing our writing as we go along (visit the blog here if you want to have a look). Again, I feel a bit of a pang that I'm not a poet. I want to be able to write something people can take in in one gulp (though I appreciate it will take them longer than that to digest it). I guess I need to accept the difference between the forms, and find ways to tell and present stories in a way that makes sense to me and how I work.

I'm working with the artist Neville Gabie at the moment on a project in Bristol called BS1. We've appointed the novelist Donna Daley-Clarke to respond to the building of a new shopping centre in central Bristol. I was really keen to appoint a prose writer to explore exactly this issue - how can prose writers work in this field? I'll be thinking more about that as the BS1 project draws to an end later this autumn.

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