Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Wednesday Word of the Week: 'Collaboration'

The internal working space we have as part our intranet is called 'Collaborate'. It helps us share knowledge and work together. That's not why I've picked this word. It's because since Christmas my outside-work collaborative muscles have been getting some exercise preparing for my activity holiday next week - working with three other writers based in North East England (Andy Croft, Linda France and W.N.Herbert) and four Bulgarian poets (Kristin Dimitrov, Georgi Gospodinov, Nadya Radulova and VBV) to create a book of our poems for Bulgaria. Naturally we created a blog some time a go to help track our collaboration. And naturally, as some of us love a good or even a bad pun, we called it Blogaria. You can follow the process so far at (Next week I'll either be posting less or more because I'll be on leave in Velingrad.)

The word collaborate (see wikipedia definition here ) is often used in the arts of course. It's interesting to note the emphasis put on equality and the likely deliberate absence of leadership in the collaborative process. It's also interesting that it has a paradoxical or negative meaning too of 'cooperating treasonably', perhaps where there is a power disparity. This is important for artistic collaboration. If I got too hung up on the status or brilliance of some of my Bulgarian collaborators it would probably inhibit the process. It's a word to be treated with respect though - something profound happens in collaboration, to do with the devotion of one's one skills and self to something else that is no longer 'yours' - although you still need to own it. If you can't do that, or are paying lipservice, treason may slip in somewhere.

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