Samuel guarding the polyphony
Five years ago I devised a project based on seven writing prompts. I sent the prompts to my friends and asked them to reply anonymously.
Thirty-three people responded, each answering at least three of the prompts. My plan was to make a polyphonic prose-poem in seven parts, using fragments of their replies woven together to create a new whole.
These were my prompts:
1. Please tell me about a recent dream you've had.
2. Describe a pivotal experience in your life.
3. Tell me about a house that was important to you when you were a child.
4. Describe a romantic or sexual encounter you've had.
5. Tell me one of your deepest fears or wishes.
6. Describe one of your early memories.
7. Tell me about a crime you've committed or a lie you've told.
In the five years that have passed the fragments have refused to weave together. The trouble is that the responses are so interesting that chopping them up destroys them, and it misses the point too: the replies often sound like delicate confessions. There's a sense of freedom about them and they're often giddy and childlike. Cutting them into pieces robs them of their quality of spontaneity.
I've decided to publish my favourite replies as they were meant to be read: in their entirety, each one the voice of someone I know, though I have no idea whose story is whose.
Like other spring flowers, the pieces will emerge over the coming weeks.