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Duos #1 – Simultaneous Writing and Simultaneous Reading

In the first of the Duos series of collaborative poetry on 3am magazine, new work by Ian McMillan and Robert Sheppard.

Simultaneous Writing and Simultaneous Reading

Liverpool Monday 23rd January 2017: 19.00 onwards… A Man Walked into a Bar

Dirty knowledge in the Hague online. Suicide babies and insults and wildfire. The

A man walked into a bar

people at number 97 flood their rooms with light, bleeding into the night’s open

A man walked into a ‘man walked into a bar’ joke

borders. Pacific start. He’s increasingly uncomfortable building Jerusalem in

A man walked into a fight

England’s green and peasant land in case it wants a US Embassy built there. What is

A man walked into a place where the argument happened

Ian doing? Kith and kin only. Diving below the coral and the decisive shift and the

A man stood in a bar, looking round

Tsunami deal. The breakfast brexity brevity. There is nobody moving through the

A bar enveloped a man in that thing they call HISTORY

rooms in 97, not even a blurry ghost taxing the frosted glass. The global gag has been

An envelope licked itself and surrounded a man

stuffed into the mouth of poetry. What is Ian doing? Actualising embodied

A HISTORY stood aside and watched the envelope fall

rhythmising consciousness again. Sniff. Not prepared for a new push, at 14 degrees

A man walked into a bar and turned a calendar over

below zero (no wonder no one walked out). Forty years ago I was writing a class

A man looked at a calendar and found it had gone backwards

paper on the Gaelic League. The guitar hasn’t moved from against the wall in 97. It’s

A man walked into a calendar and found himself in the past

good, this, because I can develop other things than the usual. I write I, and the

A past walked into HISTORY and found itself slipping in nuance

discourse curls around me, waiting for revelations, but I meant ‘he’. I meant ‘he’ was

A man walked into a bar and everybody turned

walking across the room, an ever-compensated-for falling, if we want to take it that

A man walked into a bar and everybody stared

way. The veteran poet blogs goodbye, a good run, and a lot of fun, his elegy. The

A man walked into a bar and people said YOU ARE THE STRANGER

president has cancelled a trip. A collection of white ducks and lives and livestock.

A man talked into a bar and the bar was listening to a TV on the wall

Sparks need fire. From the corner of a faster moving eye, ducks pepper the lake.

A man talked to himself in a bar as the TV on the wall caught fire

Babies avoiding detection. Patrolling the edge of consciousness. Vigilantes in

A man watched a man throw a man out of a bar

Sherwood Forest unfree from fracking. What is Ian doing? The washed up body

A man watched a man throw a man out of a bar

brings the situation to life. The hope is that today I have brushed aside the rhythm of

Abide with Me walked into a bar

argument, in favour of reiteration. The cat-like demon that descends from the sky to

A man walked into a bar singing Abide with Me

feed on corpses before cremation descends now. The lit windows face the night now,

Abide with me walked into a bar and nobody spoke

have acquired a gloss of irony, as though they have something to tell us in their sheer

A man walked into a hymn and opened his mouth

immobility. They’re in, those humans. On his misogynist bull he rode, triumphant.

A man walked into a bar and gazed at the TV on the wall

Filmed as a long shot we’d look suspicious enough. Pretending to be a vicious killer,

A President of the USA walked out of a TV and said Abide with Me

the fool was arrested. In close up, we’re happily banal, constructing an ordinary day.

A President of the USA walked out of a TV and said I am a zebra

But the fool is not a vicious killer but a fraudulent corner. Policemen whispering in

A man walked into a bar and climbed onto a zebra

the night tell their foreign wives all sorts of national secrets. I wonder what Ian’s

A man walked into Abide With Me and sang

doing. But people often react in a way that’s hectic. People who hold the levers of

A man walked around a bar on the back of a zebra

power look straight at a bank of cameras and lie. Thirty years ago I was moving

A man walked around a bar and sang to a zebra

towards eviction. You’ll see this place in dozens of movies, on TV and in adverts.

A man walked around a bar and stared at an empty TV

Separated from the blues by a slab of vinyl, the people are still not appearing and we

A zebra walked out of a bar and ran down a street

policemen are giving up; there is nothing to whisper to our wives in the night. Candid

A zebra howled at the moon and said WHERE IS AIRFORCE ONE?

commonalities. Sometimes listening to grime is a total headfuck. If not us, then who?

A bar closed down like a flatpack bar and was sold

Me snapped with two Quarrymen, embodied in a fleshly embrace with space. What is

A bar was thrown in the air and twirled like a cheerleader’s baton

Ian doing? It’s 19.37 of a Monday evening in Liverpool, 19.38 before you can say.

A zebra ran round a city and said I AM THE LEADER

Twenty years ago I was doing light executive dusting, and a decade ago I was still

A man hung onto a zebra’s back and felt, you know, unwell.

revising a poem I wrote in 1979. Have the lights in 97 dimmed, as though night

A zebra reared up on its hind legs and said LISTEN TO ME LISTEN TO ME LISTEN TO ME LISTEN TO ME

remembered the stretch of time until morning? (Or was that uncompromising?) Those

A man walked off of a zebra and stood feeling, you know, unwell.

glass tubs of. Dirty knowledge in the Hague online. Suicide babies and insults and

A man walked into a ZeBar

wildfire. The people at number 97 flood their rooms with light, bleeding into the

A man walked into a White House from a TV on the wall.

night’s open borders. Pacific start. He’s increasingly uncomfortable building

A man walked into a White House and wasn’t too visible because he was a zebra. Visible, invisible. White on black on white on black.

Jerusalem in England’s green and peasant land in case it wants a US Embassy built

A man walked into a bide with me.

there. What is Ian doing? Kith and kin only. Diving below the coral and the decisive

A man walked into a bide with me.

shift and the Tsunami deal. The breakfast brexity brevity. There is nobody moving

A man

through the rooms in 97, not even a blurry ghost taxing the frosted glass. The global

A man

gag has been stuffed into the mouth of poetry. What is Ian doing? Actualising

A man walked into a four year Zebra dance

These two improvisational texts were written simultaneously between the hours of 19.00-20.00 on Monday 23rd January 2017, one in Liverpool, the other in Barnsley. The presentation on the page here operates to suggest that simultaneity.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ian McMillan is poet-in-residence for The Academy of Urbanism and Barnsley FC. He presents The Verb every week on BBC Radio 3 and he is a regular on BBC Breakfast, Coast, Pick of the Week, You & Yours, Last Word and The Arts Show. He’s been a castaway on Desert Island Discs. Previously he was resident poet for English National Opera, UK Trade & Investment, Yorkshire TV’s Investigative Poet and Humberside Police’s Beat Poet. His collections with Carcanet include The Changing Problem (1980), Now It Can Be Told (1983) and Dad, the Donkey’s On Fire (1994). His Selected Poems was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The Tale of Walter the Pencil Man (Smokestack, 2014) is a collaboration with cartoonist Tony Husband which tells the story of a young Yorkshire lad caught up in the terrible slaughter of the First World War.

Robert Sheppard is a poet and critic, living in Liverpool. He is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire. Poems have appeared in numerous magazines over the years, and occasionally in other media. His books of poetry include Twentieth Century Blues (2008) from Salt and a selected poems, History or Sleep from Shearsman (2015). His A Translated Man (2013) featured the works of the fictional Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, but, not content with this madness, he collaborated with other poets to create the 28 poets of the European Union of Imaginary Poets (EUOIA), which will be published in the liminal Brexity moment we inhabit by Shearsman as an anthology, Twitters for a Lark. In March 2017 Edge Hill University held a symposium on his work and a book of the papers is in preparation.

ABOUT THE DUOS SERIES
The Enemies Project: Duos is a new series of commissioned collaborative poems and texts in conjunction with 3am magazine. The series will showcase brand new works of avant-garde and literary work between contemporary writers, paired and provoked especially for the enterprise, often across nations and languages. The collaborations will be entirely the work of the writers themselves, no criteria is placed upon the process or text.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, June 2nd, 2017.