Surface Tensions: Framing the Flow of a Poetry-Film Collaboration

Philip Gross, Wyn Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article is a record of collaboration between a poet (Philip Gross) and a filmmaker (Wyn Mason) - one undertaken in a particularly visible, observed situation, becoming conscious of itself through several people's gaze, from the perspectives of the visual and the verbal artist, of the critic and creative maker. It is also an investigation of the ways this process can be understood; telling it from the poet's and the filmmaker's sides of the interface, in the language and thought processes that come naturally to each. The interplay between concepts, metaphors and visual images are part of the subject of the piece. The article tracks the collaborative process throughout each stage of development, from initial exploratory conversations through to final publication. The initial objective was to make a poetry-film, but it became apparent that although the participants in theory thoroughly embraced the idea of collaboration, in practice each used various strategies to stay within the realm of their own medium. At several stages it took the intervention of a third party (notably the critical observer, Kevin Mills) to enable a creative reconceiving of the project and the form of the work itself. The final creative output that emerged was not a poetry-film, but took the form of an interactive website (Flow and Frame), which includes poetry and film clips that combine randomly in any number of ways. For the website to take form it was necessary for both participants to sacrifice something - in the filmmaker's case, the authorial control usually bestowed upon a film director; in the poet, the habits of narrative and of lyric description of specific scenes. In the process new creative energies were released. True synergy could only be achieved when the collaborators were prepared to loosen their grip upon the known, upon familiar methodologies and practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew writing: the international journal for the practice and theory of creative writing
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Aug 2013


  • poetry-film
  • new media
  • poetry
  • collaboration
  • interactive web-based art
  • mixed-media
  • criticism
  • academic writing


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