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‘When you write, breathe deeply. It is a craft, it is a gesture of a worker’ (2021)

‘When you write, breathe deeply. It is a craft, it is a gesture of a worker. And when you read what you’ve written, go back to breathing this way, until you feel like there is a rhythm. Text need to learn to dance’ (Rivera Cusicanqui S, Ch’ixinakax utxiwa : On practices and discourses of decolonisation, 2020, pxxviii) 

For many years writing stopped me breathing. I’d gulp for air when I tried to write. Like fighting for survival against what I was trying to bring to life on the page. The pressure of it. It was not work but something less honourable. It was not craft but something that dualled my mind/body. It was not dancing, in a dark room with friends close and many strangers, but something utterly self-conscious. Its changed now and is changing. I can feel a beat, the pulse of friends and strangers. Can feel myself joining in rather than fearing to stand out, feel it as a weaving of different things I take on and hold with gratitude. Smaller and more simply, a contribution. (Helen) 

Breathe in, breathe out, then begin. The words spill from the pen in quick succession, scratching out a train of thought in a rapid, unstoppable rhythm. No time to stop, no time to think, no time to catch your breath, the dance goes on. Then pen pirouettes, leaps, and dives, all with a frenetic dynamism that cannot be explained. As the words keep coming, the pen keeps dancing, tracing out the movements of ideas as they take shape. As suddenly as it began, the music stops and the pen is still. (Stuart) 

We breathe, and we repeat. Our rhythms change. We follow the words trying to not lose them. As in a race, we run with them, but also we rest… to take our breath back and see how the words sound, in the synesthetic body we are, how the body reacts and we hear again its rhythm. How the silences, pauses, acceleration, emphasis, ideas and feelings works. We are looking for the rhythm to appear in the page, like training for a long race, we repeat, we run after the words until that 5k, 10k or more ‘K’s are closer, in our rhythm, in our pulse, in our constant beat, beating. (Victoria) 

Dancing to a rhythm is something I often feel incapable of doing. I do however feel something like what I imagine it to be like when working with dialogue from some of my blindfolded navigations. Here, an attention to the relationality of words arises, whose sense and intention evaporates outside of the context in which those words were spoken, enabling alternative patterns, meanings, and rhythms to surface. Attending to this prosodic stream of information situates the body in language (dancing?). (Ben) 

I take on breath, as Cusicanqui prescribes, feeling the rush of air through my nostrils, my chest shifting picking up, my shoulders lower from where they had sat previously - bunched up towards my earlobes. When I write I usually feel tense, the details or associations flurrying by which I attempt to catch as they fall. They, the images, the feeling tones, the connections, the ideas are the things which I think of as dancing, as the shimmering stuff that will dance together in the writing, rhythmically and recursively flashing up as I think, type scribble… Now! There’s a rhythm getting going – here come my signature moves; an awkward shuffle, a head bob, a sway. Let’s take in some more Cusicanqui breaths and see whether I can pick up some rhythm, dance with the text, sidle up to the dancefloor. (Laura)