I generally write free-verse vignettes, satire or slightly skewed humour. Now and again I like to toy with constraints, Oulipo-style. However, once in a while I like to be genuinely experimental – or at least try to be. I have written a few poems using only words made of symbols of elements on the Periodic Table (I might revisit that as more have been named since then…), such as CaPTaIn, SeAsHoRe or PIGeON. Having invented it (as far as I know), I called it ‘elementalism’ because it sounds humorously grand(iloquent). Still, is it really experimental? Maybe, or possibly just a novel, somewhat geeky, playful constraint.
Either way, I was reminded of the joy of messing words around in new ways when I got a copy of Life <Infinite> Death by Will Vigar, which comes in the form of a pack of cards which can be shuffled and read in any order. I won’t go into detail because spoilers, even if it is “an experimental non-linear tale“, but think randomisation, quantum and immortality. I’m rarely a reviewer, but if you like to play thoughtfully and muse on the outcomes, I’d say it’s well worth getting hold of. You may get to add to it yourself, you’ll see what I mean.
Anyhow, once this had gestated for a while, it merged with my interest in games and puzzles – how to create something non-linear, playful and compact that I could produce myself, DIY style? Flip-books were out as too technical for home production, Will had done the card thing, Rory’s Story Cubes have the dice aspect pretty much sewn up (and lovely they are), hmmm… and then I remembered tangrams – those puzzles where many shapes are made by rearranging seven simpler ones. You even get little plastic versions in Christmas crackers. So, I sat down, wrote, selected, played with textbox shapes, printed and scissored. The ‘tan(a)gram’ was born! Double-sided, rearrangeable in many ways, and made on my ordinary everyday printer, there are now two sets with more to come. They shall appear at zine and DIY fairs for tiny money – punk ideals being what they are – and if you fancy your own, get in touch so I can sort out postage.