nicky melville, is one of the three artists we commissioned creative researchers to cut through the corpus of a major research project that took place between 2019 and 2021. Read on to learn more about melville, his process and view his series of poetic responses.
About this series of poetic responses and the creative process
As a politically engaged poet working in so-called ‘late capitalism,’ I have an interest in capital, finance and neoliberalism, and how they affect me, other people and the planet; as a precarious worker, I have an interest in day-to-day cash and living expenses. How these units fit together and lubricate the cogs of society is a daily (pre)occupation.
I have read about blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies off and on over the years and understand these new economic mechanisms to pose a threat to the hegemony of fiat money (traditional currencies such as dollars and pounds). Smart Donations – a project utilising blockchain technologies to deliver funds to charities under various conditions – attempts to bypass banks to deliver money to the needy quickly, efficiently and without go-betweens.
The Principal Investigator, Chris Speed, invited me to apply some of my typical poetic techniques to try and make sense of, and poetry from, the research and reports behind the project. There are three main modes to my working process: appropriation (the use of found text to make into poetry), visual poetry, and lyric experiment. For Telling Tales of Engagement (the title of the creative responses project) I focused on the first two modes. Generally, my work, be it visual, appropriated, or lyrical, takes aim at and interrogates the imperatives of capitalism, to try to reveal the machinations working between and around the politics and ideologies of the communications that assail us on a daily basis.
“…my work, be it visual, appropriated, or lyrical, takes aim at and interrogates the imperatives of capitalism, to try to reveal the machinations working between and around the politics and ideologies of the communications that assail us on a daily basis.”Nicky Melville on his body of work for Telling Tales of Engagement: Poetic Expressions of Smart Donations with Oxfam
I will comb through and synthesize a vast array of information, often picking out key words – ‘cuts,’ ‘together,’ or ‘blockchain’ as here – and isolate the terms together to see what might be revealed. Appropriation, then, places words in a new context and can change the meaning of the original words to say something else, but using the same language. Visual poetry might draw attention in a different way by looking at a small number of words more closely.
The pieces which are on display here include experimental sonnets made from dicotyledons (a word that changes by one letter each time) and a couple of rogue anagrams; a chain of letters where the end of a word forms the start of the next word, so you’re not really sure at first what word is what; and all the instances of the word blockchain from the Smart Donations report with part of the phrase that surrounded it in the report. These poems – blockchain blocks, blockchain letters and blockchain sonnets – build on the idea of connections, in an attempt to mirror associations with blocks and chains and suggest, figuratively and visually, the new way that financial tech flows around the digital world.
“These poems – blockchain blocks, blockchain letters and blockchain sonnets – build on the idea of connections, in an attempt to mirror associations with blocks and chains and suggest, figuratively and visually, the new way that financial tech flows around the digital world.”Nicky Melville about his methods for Telling Tales of Engagement: Poetic Expressions of Smart Donations with Oxfam
Read and watch the melville’s three poetic responses:
Copyright © Nicky Melville, 2021
The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved. No part may be copied, stored, or reproduced without the prior permission from the publisher.
ABOUT THE POET
nicky (nick-e) melville is a poet, creative writing teacher, musician and occasional artist. For over twenty years, he has been developing a range of peripheral and small press publications in a variety of forms and genres: found poetry and erasures, visual poetry, lyric experiment, conceptual and post-conceptual writing, and a badge. His work takes aim at and interrogates the imperatives of capitalism, politics and ideology. melville’s first book, selections and dissections (Otoliths Press, 2010) is a collection of visual poetry and his most recent book, ABBODIES COLD : SPECTRE (Sad Press, 2020), explores the neoliberal and fascist elements of Brexit through the lens of ABBA songs, aliens and James Bond. (This About the Poet text was taken from the Blue Diode Publishing page for his published work, Decade of Cu ts, www.bluediode.co.uk/product-page/decade-of-cu-ts-isbn-9781916405158.)