Mute Hearts – a collaborative Twine poem

In the first week of this residency I was trying to organise collaborations for other writers, but after a few days it was definitely time to get in on the action myself. On Twitter, Jane Cocks (@jatosha) replied to my call for collaborative partners – she had been playing around with Twine, and I remembered that in her residency, Jen Mills had produced a Choose Your Own Adventure type of story using this software.

We agreed to work on a branching poem. I’d love it if you had a read (and play with) the resulting piece, “Mute Hearts”.

I wrote the first line while thinking of the big dumps of snow we’ve had down here in Hobart over the last few weeks, and then we each wrote a line responding to it, and then a line responding to those two – and so on. There are eight different poems here, and you can click on different words in each line to flow on to varying options.

I had a great time; partly because I was exploring new territory, and partly because it was more playful than my regular writing practice. I didn’t agonise over the wording as I normally would with poetry, and this was quite liberating – it felt a little like when I’ve had to produce poems on the spot in performance contexts. There was something about the form that freed me up to have fun and let the phrasing go.

I’m grateful for Jane’s efforts and friendly willingness to be involved in a project like this, and also for her leet Twine skills that enabled this poem to be published online. For me, it’s encouraged the idea of running a continuous collaborative practice alongside my regular, solitary and laborious one; approaching some people directly, perhaps, but also putting the offer out on social media to see what other random and productive connections could be made.

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