Friday, December 30, 2016

Sarah St Vincent Welch - the experience of Project 366 (Project 365+1)

A friend died in a head-on car crash a year ago. Cathy was a runner, and she was driving home from an event that was a goal for her, that she had planned and trained for, that she exhilarated in completing. She was with her best friend, Helen, and she died too. I cannot yet comprehend it, and probably never will. Like with the deaths of other friends and colleagues, my response eventually was, to just try and live. To do things. Like a great dark clumsy submerged creature asleep, I stirred, listening, what could I do, what could I do?

Just before New Year 2016 Lizz Murphy told me about Project 366, and hell, Kit and Anna were getting it going (friends from Sydney in the 1980s). Why not do it I thought? I had been feeling other calls, having moved from Sydney in the late 80s for study and work, the association and allegiances of that time in Sydney so dear, Poets Union, the workshops of No Regrets, Left and Feminist, and poetry readings in Newtown and Redfern, and I decided, yes, I will try to do this post a day thing, be with these dear people, meet new ones. Me, someone who writes, but doesn’t publish very much, doesn’t send my work out through fear that it’s not good enough, who has mainly written short fiction and an unpublished novel, and part of another, whose prose is poetic, poetry is prosey, who doesn’t know where to try to be with my writing.

Kit suggested I think whether I could manage the post a day thing, and I figured if a photo could count too if no words were there for me that day (which seemed quite possible) I would try.  I have managed to post a poem and image every day. For me to keep producing something however small or light has meant a great deal to me, and to be connected to  other poets and artists, to be part of their day as they are part of mine, has been so good. Over the year I have thought if this participation in Project 366 is the major creative output in my life, then I am happy. I am blessed. And I thank this Project 366 (aka Project 365 + 1) community and especially Kit and Anna and everyone who has done some administering and helping out over the year, everyone who has been so generous with their creativity and friendship.

I wake and the first thing I do is read what is new on the project, and often it is the last thing I do as I go to sleep. Dylan, my husband, has joined recently and I have watched others’ appreciation of his connection with animals and landscapes, and seen him walk and find and wander, finding time in his busy work life, to find and make images. Project 366 is such a good space.

At first I wanted to document all the connections and currents and responses I felt and perceived in all the poems and art, but realised I wouldn’t be able to do a post a day if I did that. I would have loved to have done that.

I feel more legitimacy as a writer through this project. I have become more comfortable with showing pieces in this way. I have attempted new forms for me, sought advice when I didn’t quite get how to make them. I have become interested in rhyme, something I have disdained in the past. I am more attune to my own patterns of creating. I have been doing other creative work, as we all have, along with this project. But Project 366 is a current running through it all, and I have felt to be in great, generous, kind company. I have always wanted to comment and respond and engage more, but am often staggering to the line with my poem at 11.59 pm. Often in awe of others.

In terms of practice I notice I sometimes travel over the same territory again, re-remembering, and I realise that is OK.

The photographic element has surprised me. The ease of using the iphone as a camera, and its unexpected quality, has enabled the image project to travel with me and be something in itself. I have noticed how much I enjoy details and textures, how much I dwell on them whether I am taking a photo, writing a poem, or not. How much joy that observation brings me. Shadows and dreams were what I told Kit 2016 would be about, and it has been, as well as other things. I often turn to my recent catch of images to find inspiration for a poem, match them with the inspiration of others’ poems or art, to see how they might work off each other.

I didn’t want my quick visual capture of images to override what I was trying with words, which is a more laborious process sometimes, more fearful. Then I realised the photos weren’t just an illustration but part of the project, my noticing and capturing and framing in the visual world a parallel journey to the one in language, perhaps the same journey. I am often thinking about the same things, even subliminally, when noticing that potential photo, framing it, or asking for a poem, for words to form.

I admire the groups political poems, and want to find the voice for my own. I go there sometimes, but it wrecks me emotionally, and I have to go back to nature, memory etc to rebalance, to be able to create again the next day.


  1. the covering territory eternal return business is v interesting ... after I posted my 'truth' poem yesterday ... I had a hunt back through the file and saw that, over the year, I had had three other poems with titles with 'truth' in them -- and that truth got used a lot elsewhere as well ... I guess you could call that a theme ! the point is that in this kind of day-to-day work we've been doing there's necessarily a lot of spontaneity -- and that actually means not knowing what yr doing or where today's work fits one or two steps up the organisational hierarchy that makes, for instance, a m/s or a performance work ... which is why Project 52 is a natural, and I think necessary, next step

  2. I do agree : Project 52 is a natural, and I think necessary, next step