Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nathanael O'Reilly - Reflections on Project 366

1. Why were you interested in joining Project 366, and how did you see it relating to your art practice before you got involved? 

I was interested in joining the project because I was intrigued by the challenge of trying to write a poem a day for a month. Previously, I waited for poems to come to me and didn’t want to force creativity. However, I thought that trying something new might help me to get in the habit of writing more often and lead me in new directions. Also, I was chuffed to be invited by Kit and didn’t want to let him down!

2. How does working with other people affect your art practice/ process? Does it also affect / change your style of working? In what way?

I wouldn’t really say I was working with other people, as I composed the poems alone, but being part of a project that required a daily commitment forced me to set aside creative time daily and to always be on the lookout for subject matter. Because I was travelling for part of the month, rather than always writing at my laptop in my study, I found myself writing in a variety of locales, sometimes with pen and paper, and sometimes with my phone. Writing beside a swimming pool on holiday, under a pine tree 8000 feet above sea level in New Mexico, and on a plane to Florida all involved different stimuli and shaped my work in a way that my quiet study at home does not.

3. Has Project 366 been a good way for you to be with others in an art practice community? Does it feel like a community to you? Why?/Why not? How?/How not?

Absolutely. In the past, I have only ever collaborated with one other poet, Lachlan Brown, and that was just a single poem. Being part of Project 366 definitely meant joining a community of fellow artists each producing new work each day. I loved that the group was international and that new works would appear on the blog throughout the day due to many of us living in different hemispheres and time zones. Even though I did not interact with any of the other contributors in person, reading/viewing their works each day created a sense of familiarity and common purpose, and I found myself responding in both obvious and subtle ways to the other contributors’ works. I enjoyed and appreciated the commentary on each others’ works that took place. It was great to have fairly immediate feedback, as opposed to the long waits followed by a “yes” or “no” that one endures when sending work out for publication. I also loved discovering poets who I either was not previously aware of or whose works I had not read much of, and I now have some new favourite contemporary poets.

4. Do you see 366 as a dialogue? If so, in what way? Can you see ways in which it could be more of a dialogue or a better dialogue?

I certainly see it as a dialogue, but one mostly constructed through creative works speaking to each other, rather than a traditional oral or text conversation. I often saw common themes and concerns emerge across time zones and national boundaries, which was intriguing and wonderful. 

5. Has working on daily artmaking through Project 366 affected your work or the way you work? If so, how?

Definitely. I learnt that I can produce new creative works daily without too much difficulty, as long as I have some free time. Because the works were being presented as drafts, rather than final products, I felt free to experiment with subject matter, voice, form, diction, rhyme, repetition and rhythm, which helped me break out of a style and voice that I had developed over time but was becoming tired of using. I see my poetry moving in new directions, which is quite pleasing. 

6. Do you think others in the project have influenced you / affected your ways of working or your subject matter?

Yes and no. I would say that I have been influenced in subtle ways by observing the approaches of others, but I can’t point to a single fellow contributor and say that he or she is my new biggest influence. However, I must say that I am greatly inspired by contributors such as Kit Kelen, Susan Hawthorne, Kevin Brophy and others who are posting a new work every day all year long – that’s a massive feat of creativity.

7. How have you found the cultural diversity in the project so far? Has this had any effect on you? Do you think things could be different / better in this regard?

I really appreciated the fact that we have/had contributors from China, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Australia, NZ and elsewhere. I appreciated seeing the universal elements in the contributors’ works, as well as the differences. I’ve been learning a lot. The cultural diversity has been great, but there could always be more of it.

8. Do you think there's what you could call a learning process going on through the project? If so, could you describe that?

As an individual, there’s definitely a learning process that comes with trying to write daily. One learns about one’s own habits and tendencies, as well as that one might be capable of more variety than previously thought possible. There’s also certainly an ongoing process of learning from other contributors through their works and comments – learning about their subject matter, their techniques, and their lives.

9. How do you see your role in the group?

I saw myself as responsible for contributing something interesting each day, and since I was the only contributor living in North America posting daily in July, I also felt like I should provide a bit of a window into daily life here, or at least my small slice of it.

10. How has participation in Project 366 affected your sense of yourself as an art practitioner?

I learned that I can write much more frequently than I have been in the past, and that the more often I write, the more diverse my subject matter and style becomes, which was a bit of a revelation. During one of the days that I participated in the project, I wrote first drafts of ten new poems, which is definitely a record for me! Through the feedback from other contributors, I also learnt that my work is interesting to readers from a variety of places and cultures, not just to other fellow Australians and/or expats.

11. How would you like to see Project 366 develop for the second half of the year?
I’d like to see it continue in its current form, with new contributors joining each month to travel alongside the veterans for a while.

12. What do you imagine after Project 366? (Both in terms of group art practice with a comparable vehicle and in terms of your own personal practice.)

I’d love to see some kind of anthology come out of the project, as has been discussed, so that the best of the work endures in a traditional printed form, but I’d also love to see another incarnation next year, such as a Project 52. Personally, I plan to continue writing much more often (hopefully daily), and am now interested in pursuing more collaborations in the future, both online and in person. Participating in the project has fundamentally changed my creative writing practice, which is an amazing outcome that I did not foresee.

1 comment:

  1. it would be great, Nat, if you could find us a new correspondent/s for future months to keep the North American window open