Monthly Archives: March 2013

What collaboration looks like.

Kerry Barber - a 40 week journal Corrected (1)-1 copy

Here’s a little teaser from Fools Love: 40 Week Journal. A few days ago, Kerry sent me an email with the title 40 week journal corrections. There was a PDF attached.

Now, I can take feedback like a champ, but corrections? Now? The film is set to screen this weekend, and I certainly don’t have time to be making changes, and WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, CORRECTIONS? There are no MISTAKES in this poem! This is not a test!

So, yeah, my hackles went up.

Kerry, an expert in dealing with sensitive artist types, had anticipated my stiff-backed response. “I don’t want you to change your poem-” the first line of the email, “but some of the details aren’t true to life.”

I bemoaned the vagaries of long-distance collaboration. Readied my speech on poetic license and on how fictionalization can add a comfortable buffer zone between an artist and her piece. Especially when it’s emotionally charged. I had a feeling she knew this. I recalled times when I was about to read a new poem or story and suffered an eleventh-hour panic attack, believing that everything needed to be different-Iambic hexameter enforced, names changed to protect the guilty.

Then just read the rest of the damn email.

“I just want my daughter to understand exactly what happened, one day when she’s old enough. I want a copy of your poem with all the facts straight.” I opened the PDF. What I found was a running commentary, and the inclusion of a few dates. There were no big red X marks, no F- at the top. I hadn’t failed. Kerry didn’t want to change the poem, but this was her poem, her story, facilitated by me. She needed to put her mark on it. The last word- for the record. I could appreciate that.

Update on “Fools Love: 40 Week Journal” at Dawson short film fest.

w_Fools Love

Dawson City International Short Film Fest 2013 program is online! Fools Love is part of the Cold Cuts section of the festival, under the Yukon and Beyond heading, and will screen on March 29. 

Kerry had already completed the film when she contacted me to see if I had any poetry on young, foolish love that she could use as voiceover. Much to my surprise, I had a ton. Turns out the only time I really write about love, it’s of the foolish variety. So I sent her everything I had. But this piece is very close to Kerry’s heart, being somewhat auto-biographical, and It soon became obvious that we were going to have to write something that told Kerry’s story.

This was a challenge. Nearly all my writing is auto-biographical. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to get into strange character’s heads, because most of my characters are an extension of me. Now I was going to get inside a real person’s head, a friend who had suffered a serious betrayal at a vulnerable time in her life. Arguably, the most vulnerable time of her life.  I told Kerry to write out the entire story and send it to me, to not worry about spelling or punctuation or structure. I wanted the Journal entry version. Raw.

And that is exactly what I received: a sprawling email complete with irrational anger, petty thoughts, and the odd F-bomb. Kerry is a brutally honest and fearless storyteller. The email also contained some useful, 20/20 vision hindsight on the forty week journey I was about to chronicle. A talented artist, Kerry gave me her blog address, so I was able to take a look at how she expressed herself visually during this time. After a look through this material, I was primed.

That’s all I want to say right now, since I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. Working on the poem was difficult and emotionally wrenching and really, really rewarding. I’m honoured to have been included. Big thanks to Kerry, and I wish I could be there for your sparkly moment. You’re going to kill ’em.