“May 11th”: An Unreleased Collaborative Erasure by Amaranth Borsuk & Andy Fitch

Ryan Bollenbach here. Heavy Feather Review is publishing short pieces on the blog from writers who have collaborated on previous projects in order to give potential collaborators ideas and stoke excitement for The Zachary Doss Friends in Letters Memorial Fellowship (collaboration itself being the biggest takeaway I hope to create from all this). Please read about my late friend Zach and consider creating work for the fellowship. After May 31, I will award $50 to four pairs of writers who have collaborated, winning praise from friends of Zach, Brandi Wells and Leia Penina Wilson—and myself. The friends’/comrades’ work will appear in print in HFR Vol. 11.

I have asked numerous collaborators to contribute a piece about their process, and we’re taking a very liberal definition of collaboration here, so however they wanted to talk about their collaboration is welcome. Translators may make a run at collaboration in this regard. I provided sample questions but these features don’t have to be a one for one interview format, no siree. Collaborators might interview each other, or create some document such as Polaroids from a fake stan, etc. However, some collaborators have chosen to simply answer the questions, which is also great. Deviation is, of course, welcome.

Amaranth Borsuk’s most recent book is The Book (MIT Press, 2018), a brief introduction to the book as object, content, idea, and interface published in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series. Her books of poetry include Pomegranate Eater (Kore Press, 2016); Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012), selected by Paul Hoover for the 2011 Slope Editions Poetry Prize; and Tonal Saw (The Song Cave, 2010), a chapbook-length erasure. Abra (1913 Press, 2016), a book of mutating poems created with Kate Durbin, received an NEA-sponsored Expanded Artists’ Books grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago and was released as a limited-edition book with a free iPad / iPhone app created by Ian Hatcher. The collaboration As We Know (Subito Press, 2014), selected by Julie Carr for the Subito Prize, reshapes 60 entries from Andy Fitch’s summer diary into a collective confessional/constructivist collage that foregrounds the tensions of authorship.

Andy Fitch’s most recent books are Sixty Morning WalksSixty Morning Talks and (with Amaranth Borsuk) As We Know. Ugly Duckling soon will release his ebook Sixty Morning Walks. With Cristiana Baik, he is currently assembling the Letter Machine Book of Interviews. He has dialogic books forthcoming from 1913 Press and Nightboat Books. He founded the interview-based journal The Conversant, edits Essay Press, teaches in Wyoming’s MFA program, and directs the English Department’s MA program.


In 2013, we collaborated on a book called As We Know (Subito Press, 2014), an erasure Amaranth made from Andy’s summer diary from 2007. The project had ambitions with regard to questions of truth and fiction, banality and confession, and gendered power dynamics. It began as an excuse to work together—we knew one another from meeting at conferences, and one AWP Andy asked Amaranth to read with him for an off-site The Song Cave put together. We both liked the vibe of sharing a text. And so collaboration for us began from a desire to build our friendship, which is exactly what this project delivered. We enjoyed the process so much, we didn’t want it to end, and after the book was published, we came up with little spin-off performances, audio recordings, photo shoots, and personae that gave us further excuses to spend time together, like this pre-Zoom video we made over Google Hangouts in 2015. For us collaboration means most of all staying in touch with each other, staying closely engaged with each other’s art and thinking, having fun together, and having that fun extend far beyond the confines of any particular publication or performance. This piece, “May 11th,” was never published, so it makes us happy to share it here, where some of the pages from As We Know originally appeared.


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