kevin mcpherson eckhoff has written and published some stuff, but mostly he reads other people’s books to his 2 boyos and teaches mopes and milks goats. Oh, and he has a very quote-comedy-unquote album called Joke Killer.
Their collaborative poems “HOW TO WRITE A POEM” and “TO WOO TEARS” appear in the thirty-seventh issue of Touch the Donkey.
Q: Tell me about “HOW TO WRITE A POEM” and “TO WOO TEARS.”
K2: “How to write a poem” and “to woo tears” are four-eye poems about being the giver and also the receiver, taking life’s sadness and wantingness and painting a wash of love over ideas of obedience and other such god and parent complexities. Our collaboration was a kevinsight proposed shortly after Kimberlent him the writings of Richard Rohr, whose work felt like fresh, inspired, heart-harmonizing interpretations of scripture. For several months we each wrote individual poems reflecting on the themes of Rohr's weekly words, and then took turns mashing our lines together! In the making of each these mix-ups, there are a total of 3 poems: his and hers, and then the offspring, of course!
Q: How do these poems compare with the individual projects or poems you’ve each been working on lately?
K2: My individual poems oh and I’m writing are mostly sad and lonely lustrous subtropical salt caked verses at the moment in my head while being inundated, while these are happy and hopeful, if not explicitly, then implicitly by relatives and friends in post-covid/, by the fact of their collaborative Oh-my-guts spirit! /-together-again/ too many things /-frenzy/: sketches, screenplays, short fiction experiments, translations, buttfaces!
Q: What first prompted the collaborations between the two of you? Is this all you’ve done so far, or have there and/or will there be further?
K2: This series of collaborations was prompted by a bouncy kind of belief relief in the joy-power of sharing word energies that rough and tumble the mix of egoic stoic and evolving thoughts within the immanence of this god-shaped not-hole that we are. Yes and we don’t know! Yes and we don't know!
Q: Were there any models for this particular collaboration? How did you decide on approach or form?
K2: Kimberley, did you have any particular models for this collaboration?
Hmmm. Not consciously, but I retrospectively see the model of the risen Christ embedded in creation… As longshore currents travel, they pick up sediment and transport it down the beach in a process known as longshore drift. Longshore drift can form long, narrow outcroppings of land called spits, as well as barrier islands, long islands located parallel to the coast. Barrier islands constantly change as longshore currents keep picking up, moving and redepositing sand. I'm a bit of a drifter… And you, Kevin, what patterns, paths, pals inspired you to collect words in this collab?
Probably the main patterns/paths for this collab would be a junk drawer of disconnected or one-off poems done with writer-friends like Jake Kennedy and Jonathan Ball, although none had followed quite the same process. There’s a certain dialogic energy with these, and sometimes a kind of overlapping and quilting of our two voices into one. This nature might be more obvious in pieces other than these two in TtD. In some ways, the poems are extensions of our text-based exchanges about spirituality and everyday life, and as such, Kimberley, you were a main source of inspiration through your invitation to share Rohr’s meditations with me, through your openness to share your own work, and through your willingness to explore organic ways of wording together! (Dammit, I just read yours now and it’s so much better than mine… Now i have to rewrite mine)
(Awww no it isn't!) I also wanted to add you as a model or inspiration because of your can-do candid creative initiative and other-empowerment in suggesting that we write out of our responses to weekly readings. That was kindling! So, Kevin next question, how did you decide on approach or form?
(You go first this time! I won't read your response before I respond. Also I think we should keep all the brackets and dammits ;)
Did I decide?! Died side I’d? Sighed eye dye? We deed seed? Was it I that proposed the collab and proposed approach? For my own poems, I couldn’t always resist my typical loopy language goofs, but also strove for a kind kind of sincerity—not always with consistent results! There was the urge to honour the original inciting texts and find resonance in my own beliefs and daily livings. I suppose these pieces are like a triple collab, responding initially to Rohr’s words, then to one another’s: a three-ingredient potato salad! As for the poem mashing, how did we decide to take turns head cheffing them? Not sure I had any premeditated forms… it was a lot of mix and taste and remix, bake and taste and, if bitter or off, start over! How’d I land on this stupid cooking metaphor?! And Kimbers, how form or approach was your decide on and what?!
(Whoops I accidentally skimmed your answer and then waited till I forgot before cooking up my own response). My side lacked decisive. Cautiously meddling pretty word arrangements produced a short- and long-stemmed chop and chunky bouquet. Lightly and with impulse and feeling, not with a lot of thought. Thought produced some remixes from the kevin side that I find most lovely and reading through the collection again I hope to dissect as darlingly my own writing as a practice I can attribute to what I learned from our collaboration. Flowers and food are great metaphors... we keep very busy arranging and mixing in life with the best petals and produce, we are so blessed to do so.
Q: Are the formal strategies and conversations shifting throughout the process of attempting a manuscript? How are you seeing the poems impacting each other, if at all?
K2: Formalities and convos for this project have stalled while other life things get sorted. My google docs has gone into the cloud, and so without looking back at the poems to remember fully I'd say they impacted each other just as we as a creative triad did; never running out of material or words to add or repeat. There is repetition in the poems as in the meditations for as culture shifts, bodies age, and our worlds change, life still revolves on its axis, the one constant: love, which emits waves so that even though we cycle in the same space not one cycle is the same. We still write about the centre, nature sings about it and seekers still find it. That was me kimberley; kevin do you have anything to add?
I second all the what you said! I’m not sure we’ve gotten to a point where the poems lucidly envision an overall manuscript yet, although the potential seems clear given the premise and practice. I’m sure the strategies of process and form will shift in ways that organically evolve and inform new poems—I just suspect we’re not deep enough into the project to recognize these shifts. Or perhaps such manoeuvres are subtler and more difficult to perceive than what feel like the larger, more obvious ones inspired by constant shifts in our inner and outer worlds: changing seasons, family dynamics, cultural happenings, job demands, communitying, our understandings of our faiths, etc. I appreciate your words like “axis” and “waves” and “cycle” and “centre”… they make me think of a solar system with all of these outer elements as planets and moons and comets, and unseen inner forces like gravities, UV light, and cosmic rays, and at our core is this sun, a belief in god as love that powers everything, but even that is hurtling through space at a crazy velocity on its own trajectory to who knows where. And our poems are what happens when our solar systems intersect, the overlapping of atmospheres, confluence of electromagnetic radiation, the collision of asteroids. Just please don’t ask how our newly confirmed alien friends factor into this silly analogy!
Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize either of your own works? What particular works can’t either of you help but return to?
K2: Kai pai! You start these ones Kevin; maybe aliens will somehow inform your answer to this next set of questions ;)
Okay! I’m a bad reader. Horrible. My reading practice is lazy and random and embarrassing… I only get to a few books each year—contending with endless essays during the academic year kinda burns me out… patheticsadface emoji. But I love reading to my boys! Axe Cop, Lord of the Rings, Dr Seuss, Bone, Amulet, anything Star Wars… but there’s also some aspect of performance there (i.e. doing character voices) which changes the reading action for me, makes it more enticing and rewarding, as does relishing the boys’ reactions to plot twists and tensions. Also, attending readings generally energizes my work more than reading books… perhaps my drive is fuelled by community? I recently read and loved Lizard Telepathy, Fox Telepathy by Yoshinori Henguchi, and some of my perennial return-to-ers include Dianne Williams and Lisa Robertson and bpNichol and Flarfers and Queneau…
(I don't know if I'll get to this quickly :) but I will!)
(No rush ever! Enjoy your folks!)
I read on the toilet or holding a book in one hand and a hose in the other; but rarely am I sitting or watering for long. At the moment I have a few books on hand from authors who share the same landscape as me, and I keep coming back to these because I love this place I call home now:
“Called here by some other beatAnd I love to hear “chocolate lilies, shooting stars, columbine, and the oh so delicate calipso orchid” (Virginia Dansereau) as if they are friends we have in common.
in my blood
by blue sky & turquoise”~Michelle Doege