'Parley Palaver: Distillations and Reasonings' guest publication – James King and Ann McKay
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During the months of our exchange-of-poetry readings, including our own work, I read to Ann from my Distillations. A Distillation is a poetic form I devised, as of particular relevance to public performance.
Each Distillation ended with a punchy line or two, often resembling a tongue twister. I sketched charcoal drawings to illustrate endings. Before our meetings I emailed Ann the endings and photographs of the drawings. Ann responded with a poem – a Reasoning – and we read our poems to each other when we met next.
Each Distillation usually beings with a short quotation from a text, although occasionally with a quotation from my own work. The first stage of the process is to write a phonetic version of the quotation i.e. break each word into syllables and phonemes, representing sounds independent of meaning.
A selection of these syllables are then chosen and made into interesting sound arrangements. These are then jumbled up, rearranged and reduced further.
Eventually a small selection of syllables with sound connections (e.g. rhyme, assonance, alliteration) are repeated and playfully developed into repetitive patterns. Finally I seek for meaning, adding words soundly linked to words and syllables already present. I am also working towards the discovery of an image which may be illustrated in a drawing. When this emerges the Distillation is ready for sharing.
And at this point Ann would begin her Reasoning.