Friday, 10 September 2010
I've been thinking about handwriting and the importance of touch in what we do at arthur+martha. I guess Lois takes this for granted, because she has a textiles background. But as a writer, I rarely notice the quality of the writing itself, the mark. The shaky inked lines, written by older people in hospital beds, often speak as volubly as the poems themselves.
I'm kitterpawed, as they say in Ireland. I grew up in Northern Ireland around great religious anxiety that wormed thru all. For a short period when I was a child, I tried writing with my right hand because I thought it'd please God. No one told me to do it, but I picked up the idea half-intuitively. My older brother had been a lefthander taught to use his right.
Those childish words on a schoolbook page were important enough to be contested. A fingerprint, a cross to vote, a signature, your mark, an autograph. The witnessing signatures to a peace treaty, or an arrest warrant, these marks have import too. The human trace is the basic stuff of liberty and expression.
What happens when they are removed? We write now without handwriting: Microsoft or Apple our imprinteur.
Early this year, I edited an edition of the online magazine Ekleksographia. The work in it emphasises the handmade, the haptic. The makers of the work included are poets and artists who trace a lineage of lines thru to William Blake, the great handmaker in English lit. Bob Cobbing is of this family too, and the Outsider artists. And so too are the makers in PATIENCE, who fought bravely with pain and distress to leave their marks on a page for us.