Becoming more selves, or: Tapestry poetry

Partners in rhyme

Sangeetha (Mindfills blog) and I have been writing poetry together for two years. We’ve done several series of poetry together, including:

Tapestry poetry

Recently, I discovered a form of collaborative poetry designed by a pair of poets, one from India (Shernaz Wadia) and the other from Israel (Avril Meallem)… Just like Sangeetha and me!

‘Tapestry Poetry’, which they developed, works like this:

Each poet composes a poem on a title chosen by one of them. The poems are then exchanged and have to be woven into one seamless, flowing piece that can stand on its own. Being a collaborative effort, the editing becomes a to and fro process until both writers are satisfied with the resulting ‘Tapestry’. The basic rules are:

  • Each individual poem has to be of 9 lines;
  • Only the person who gives the title has the option of actually using it in the poem. This is to avoid repetition;
  • The majority of words of the original poems should be kept but grammatical changes allowed. (e.g. singular to plural, verb tenses, etc.);
  • Adjectives and adverbs can be replaced with others more befitting the Tapestry but retaining the original flavor;
  • All 9 lines of each poem are to be used in the Tapestry, which effectively makes it an 18 line poem.

Our individual tapestry poems

Of course, Sangeetha and I decided to give this new poetry form a shot; and I came up with a title for our poem: ‘Becoming more selves’

‘Becoming more selves’ by David

Was a time I thought all lives
Cut from born to die
Through mists audience members cried
Past my dry minded line of sight

One night I realized
Those sparkling drops refracted light
Through selves contained in piles of slides
Identities spliced and respliced
Projected upon the sky

‘Becoming more selves’ by Sangeetha

Time wakes me up, quite rudely I must say
Claims I should look at who I am and who I need to be
Titles, labels, symbols, epitaphs, rush out of the past
With shoulds and coulds trying their best to sculpt an enlightened me
My goals demand I dress up in the medals that I've won
Wisdom tells me to tread life with feet as bare as they come
Change sits back and smirks while I try my new avataar out
I step into new shoes, roles...taller, wiser, no doubt 
In every single myself that I choose to be, I find I'd like to be very me.

Our joint tapestry poem(s)

‘Becoming more selves’ #1 by Sangeetha & David

Our first tapestry poem was by the book:

Was a time I thought all lives
~those sparkling drops of refracted light~
projected upon the sky
claimed I should look at who I am and who I need to be,
past my dry-minded line of sight.

With titles, labels, symbols, epitaphs rushing out of pasts,
with shoulds and coulds trying their best to sculpt an enlightened me,
identities spliced and respliced...

One night, Time woke me up, quite rudely I must say,
through selves contained in piles of slides,
through mists audience members criedโ€ฆ

My goals demanding I dress up in the medals that I've won;
wisdom telling me to tread life with feet as bare as they come;
change sitting back and smirking while I tried my new avatar out;
That one night, I realized:
Cut from born to die,
I ought step into new shoes, roles... taller and wiser, no doubt, 
for in every single self I choose to be, I find I'd like to be: very me.

‘Becoming more selves’ #2 by Sangeetha & David

Our second tapestry poem was born of a mistake I made…

See, at first, I didn’t realize that we were supposed to keep the lines from our two original poems whole when weaving our combined tapestry poem. So, we ended up fashioning a second tapestry poem, using all the words from both of our individual poems but ignoring the original lines:

Cut from born to die,
titles, labels, symbols, epitaphs, identities ~ spliced and respliced;
all past lives with shoulds and coulds;
Was a time I thought to sculpt my new avatar; I realized
I'd like to be taller; dress up in the medals that I'd won,
while stepping into newfound roles... that I'd even change my goalsโ€ฆ

Audience members doubted, smirked, rushed rudely in my line of sight-
sat back, and projected their dry-minded claims, demanding I contain
my every single self in one should...
'No! Say,' I cried- 'I must choose to be who I am-
look at who I need to be- my very best of selves!'
Sparkling drops refracted light through the night sky
through those mists of life,
upon piles of slides,
wisdom woke me up quite in time-
an enlightened me, a wiser me tread out
with feet as bare as they come; shoes off,
now I tell myself to try.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

28 thoughts on “Becoming more selves, or: Tapestry poetry”

  1. An interesting exercise. At one time Nina and I would exchange a magnetic poem, each doing a line until we came up with something we liked. You and Sangeetha have a very fruitful collaboration. “Cut from born to die”–that is very close to the bone. (K)

  2. Truly fresh and beautiful

    ๐Ÿ˜wisdom telling me to tread life with feet as bare as they come๐Ÿ˜

    Why oh why is wisdom always like this!!!

    The brilliance of two hearts in a duet capturing our imagination

      1. Thank you David ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’› for your lovely compliment.
        It is a joy and privilege to read a beautiful like yours David.

  3. Don’t know how ye guys keep coming with such fresh ideas & new material! ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”I’m in awe, seriously! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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