Consider this image as a sign of you falling into a dream and going backwards through the debris of these words. Conceptual writing is for the die-hards. Some says it’s writing as it used to be in the beginning – other say it’s the end of literature as we know it. Nevertheless it always brings something joyful and thought-provoking into the otherwise dull and predictable world of artistic consumerism. Liz Worth‘s “Twin Peaks Poetry project” is refreshing in many ways. During her diverse career she covered all sorts of oddities – from Toronto Punk scene to weird fiction. TPPP uncovers the hidden poetry of scripts of Lynch\Frost cult series by recontextualisation of the source material – she breaks it into the different lines and moves it into the different directions. David Lynch would appreciate it. Here’s an example:
we suffered the beach,
too early to tell
what I see.
I’m probably witnessing
a hole, severe as my mind.When, if ever,
will you be able to talk to us?The answer’s in there somewhere.
For your consideration – an interview with Liz Worth:
VB: Why Twin Peaks?
LW: I hadn’t seen it until 2014. I’d heard a lot about it but I didn’t really know what it was about. People would just say, “you need to watch it,” and that was it.
So I went into it open-minded and was really surprised by how it was written. It’s very beautiful and poetic and the whole show is so strange and tense. I felt inspired after just the first episode. I watched more, and it started to do weird things to my head. I knew I wanted to work on some kind of Twin Peaks-inspired project.
I started looking through the scripts and was really excited to see they were just as literary as I’d hoped, that the way the actors deliver their lines also comes through in the way the scripts were written.
VB: What is your “Mission Statement”?
LW: I don’t have a definitive mission statement, though I have had different missions or goals along the way. I believe in fluidity, though, and in evolution, so I don’t try to regiment myself too much in sticking to one vision or mission if I don’t feel it works for me anymore. Sometimes you grow out of these things, or you want to expand, or you find yourself inspired and influenced by different things than before. Right now, my main creative motto is “be weird” and my main focus is to trust my instincts as I’m creating and as I’m choosing projects.
As for Twin Peaks – I’m working out a series of poems per episode. There’s no determined number on how many poems each episode will get – it’s all about how many I can create from each one. Each poems uses words and phrases from the scripts, not just limited to dialogue but also including scripting around setting and mood. It’s a conceptual poetry project that uses the language from Twin Peaks to create something totally of its own.
VB: How it corresponds with your body of work?
LW: It fits in with my body of work in that it’s a natural follow-up to my most recent project, Rewriting Andy Warhol, where I created 451 poems out of Andy Warhol’s a: A Novel. Each page was created into a poem, and each poem uses only words and phrases from its specified page. That project started as a blog and is being published in book form by BookThug this fall.
But even outside of the Warhol project, my Twin Peaks rewrite fits in with my overall sensibilities, I think. Twin Peaks was dark and weird, and had a lot of occult references and surreal moments, which is what made me love it so much. Especially because some of its weirder elements aren’t justified at all – the viewer just has to accept that it happened, even if it doesn’t make any sense. I highly respect that.
My other books, Amphetamine Heart (poetry) and PostApoc (fiction) consciously incorporate all of these same elements and influences. PostApoc especially, because I took a lot of influence from my collection of spell books for some parts of that, and because I wrote in a lot of scenes and images that were strange and uncomfortable but that didn’t always get a huge explanation – they were just there, and they were just happening, and the story kept moving.
I love surrealism in literature and since Twin Peaks brought that to the TV screen, I see that it can also do the same on a literary level.
VB: So it’s more or less natural continuation of your work?
LW: Yes. It’s been my practice for a number of years now to have simultaneous projects on the go, keeping my hands both in fiction and in poetry. While I was working on PostApoc I also got to work on a second poetry collection (tentatively titled The Truth is Told Better This Way) and now, as I’m working on a new novel, I did the Warhol rewrite and now I’ve moved on to Twin Peaks. So it all works together – it’s busy, but I prefer it this way.
VB: Can you say that TPPP transcends upon its material into a kind of parallel reality?
LW: When you are rewriting a text, whether you’re remixing or doing erasure poetry or whatever the approach, there is a departure from the original work. With me, I like to create something as original as possible, but of course within the constraint of the prescribed text.
So there are still parallels, because you can’t help but pick up the way the characters might have spoken, or the way a scene is described, or the overall mood of the work. Those things still come through, absolutely, but they might communicate different messages in the process.
The author’s own filter needs to be taken into account as well. My style and my perspective and my ideas still come through, even if I am reworking someone else’s words. I might fixate on phrases or ideas in a text that someone else might overlook, and vice versa. And I might choose to use those words to communicate certain experiences that others wouldn’t, because writers are always coming from very individual places.
VB: What it can show to the readers – aside from literary qualities?
LW: I do hope that, as these poems go along, they can be seen as standalone works and not simply as a novel idea. Not that there is anything wrong with novelty – I think conceptual writing thrives in novelty – but I also want my poetry to resonate on an emotional level with people, no matter what its source or its aim.
VB: What you can consider as “artistic license” in TPPP?
LW: If the end result is so far removed from the original source, becoming an original work itself, then I feel there is license to move ahead. If I were simply ripping off a TV script to create another TV script, then that would be one thing.
But if I am using these words as a poetic constraint to work within a different medium, and a different intention, then that’s different. Once a poem is complete, I don’t think it’s immediately obvious that it’s built from a Twin Peaks script unless I am using very, very famous phrases, like “fire walk with me,” or referencing characters names.
VB: In the future – will you do the same thing with TP-related books (“Laura Palmers diary” and “Dale Coopers/Diane transcripts”)?
LW: I’m not sure yet. I think it will take quite a while to go through all the scripts. The pilot alone is netting a lot more poems than I was expecting, so I’ll have to see how it all goes and how long it takes to remix all the episodes first.
VB: What do you think about forthcoming continuation of TP? Is it necessary?
LW: I think it’s really interesting. In a way it’s not surprising, because we live in a very nostalgic time and we’ve seen a lot of different reunions and revivals over the past 10 years or so through film, TV, and music with a lot of remakes and comeback tours and all that. I think sometimes people realize there’s been a huge cult following for something for a long time and they want to try to revive an old project because they feel inspired knowing there are still fans out there, and other times they want to capitalize on that or feel it’s a safe bet when there is already a built-in audience.
That being said, I haven’t seen many remakes (or band reunions, for that matter) that managed to capture the essence of what had come before. I do think that sometimes the magic of something lives in a certain time and place and that’s part of the formula that you just can’t get back again once it’s gone.
But it is kind of magical that Laura Palmer told Dale Cooper he would see her again in 25 years. I like that a lot, because it’s happening. Of course it will be interesting to see how the new Twin Peaks does and where the storylines go. I think it’s best to go into it all with an open mind.
Liz Worth books include: Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, 2009; Amphetamine Heart, 2010; PostApoc, 2013; No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol, 2015 (forthcoming).