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Radical Butchery Studio

Futurists believed that the constraints of syntax were inappropriate to modern life and that it did not truly represent the mind of the poet…However, the Futurists were not truly abolishing syntax. White points out that since “The OED defines ‘syntax’ as ‘the arrangement of words in their proper forms) by which their connection and relation in a sentence are shown”. The Futurists were not destroying syntax in that sense. Marinetti in truth advocated a number of “substantial, but nevertheless selective modifications to existing syntax” and that the “Russian Futurists’ idea that they were ‘shaking syntax loose’” is more accurate…”

— Literary Futurism: Aspects of the First Avant Garde. White, John J. 1990, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Why did I choose the words Radical and Butchery? Especially Butchery.

I work as a freelance editor and have for many years. I have been editing novels, academic articles, news stories and poetry. As a result of many years of editing, I found I was becoming more and more ruthless. My instincts were becoming sharper, to the point where I observed “I just knew,” what to do with the texts that were put in front of me. It was becoming less “cerebral,” and more like a composer or painter.

Applying these skills to my own poetry was a revelation. I noticed that whereas early in my career, I would feel quite at sea with my poetry when editing, I did not need to think about it as much. In fact, I began to get downright fast-and-loose. I observed that I was less afraid about preserving those precious bits & pieces of my poems, that previously I would be loathe to even imagine losing.

This is when I got even more ruthless with my own work. I began to play with everything. I have always been into the idea of working with texts in the body of a poem. I was too “frightened”, before. I started plonking them in and working with that paradigm.

Things shifted. They do. I got even more ruthless, breaking the poems into verse chunks, and switching them about, and I found it worked! Keeping ideas of tension, flow, movement in mind, I found these methods beginning to serve me well. Allowing myself the freedom to do this, actually began to enable a voice that felt more ‘authentic’, which is what I am always striving for.

On my upcoming Studio, I am hoping that by giving ourselves permission to embark on this, we will also have fun! I like the image of the butcher too. It is a forceful one and not without emotion. It also implies different ‘parts’, equally vital coming apart from the whole, to be re-organized, re-purposed…is every part saved/eaten? What kind of butcher are you? Are you a loving butcher? What tools are your favourite? Are you a creative butcher, who then likes to make unusual displays of the meat?

Liberate your craft by running amok with the editor’s axe on Sascha Akhtar’s Radical Butchery Studio. Book online or ring us on 020 7582 1679.

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