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Writing may be a solitary occupation, but two Medway poets have just shown how collaboration can pay off.

Matt Chamberlain and Spreken came up with the idea of interpreting the other’s images. They each took photos of ordinary things, which the other then wrote about. The one stipulation was that the resulting poem contain something positive (for they had seen too much sadness in their work).

The result is one man’s trash, a collection of 14 poems. A kitchen sink full of not-yet-done washing-up; a house sprayed with racist graffiti; a sign in a car park telling you where to pay; a pair of muddy walking boots: these unpromising pictures inspire some imaginative work. My favourite is ‘Underneath’, the speculation of whatever lives under a bridge (a troll, as there’s something trip-trapping across the bridge – memories of Billy Goat Gruff?) as to who is walking over it and what their lives contain (or don’t). Another that specially appeals is ‘Grey infusion’, the thoughts of a pigeon splashing in a puddle.

The foreword explains that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or hope. Or mirth.”

Spreken has had some of her work on the tube in the Poets on the Underground series, and she co-headlined Paint it Black, a poetry event focusing on mental health, part of Medway’s Paint The Town festival this spring (https://www.paintthetownfestival.co.uk/). Matt Chamberlain has published three collections of poems and performs at open mic nights, festivals etc, most recently at this month’s Vicar’s Picnic festival at Yalding in Kent (see http://vicarspicnic.co.uk/), where he was Festival Laureate.  (I wrote about one of his collections last year (at https://ninevoices.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/lowering-awareness/).)

The collection is published by Wordsmithery (based in Chatham). For an interview with the two authors, speaking on how they write their poetry and how they collaborate, see https://www.wordsmithery.info/one-mans-trash .

So if writer’s block strikes, or you feel your writing needs new inspiration, or is getting you down, try some collaboration like this.

ISBN 978-0-9926853-6-2 RRP £8 (+ £2 P&P from Wordsmithery)