This summer, I’m taking part in the excellent Throw Away Lines project, organised by Malcolm Blythe of writers’ collective 26. The project was born when original curator and debris aficionado Andy Hayes decided to commission “stories inspired by rain-swept, wind-strewn, handwritten notes found on London’s streets.”
This alchemical approach colours a lot of what 26 do. Pick a starting point and expand upon it until a whole new piece of stand-alone art is created. Many members are copywriters in real life, a job which often entails more paring down than expansion, so it’s great to see what their minds conjure up when the brief is such an open one.
For my part, I was thrilled to receive the following scrap:
It was incomprehensible to me, and since it was in a non-Roman alphabet, I had no hope of popping it into some automatic translator. That temptation was removed. I didn’t even know WHICH alphabet it was in. Freedom.
I decided to look at the shape of the words instead, and which English words they could be mapped onto, and this began to take the form of made-up names. My final poem is called “Lesser-Known Saints of the Hellfire Club”, and features false biographies of these imaginary characters. It can be seen on the Throwaway Lines website, along with a host of magnificent stories.