Peter Bakowski & Ken Bolton

                    [writing as
               Walter Gabriel]


eight sixpacks

Spanners and Truants: a note on the Sixpacks

These poems began when Peter Bakowski sent the first ('Some lines are straight') to Ken Bolton, urging a response. An age later Bolton sent a pair of responses (the two that follow next in sequence) and suggested that Bakowski reply with two himself, to be followed by another from Bolton—thus making three poems each and an 'interlocked' group of six. The collaboration had begun. 'Sixpacks' was the handy name. They wondered if these sixes, sequenced this curious way, might produce some diastolic effect, either thematic or mental? (Is it to be felt, somehow, this pulse?) After four 'sixpacks' produced on this plan the poets composed another four sets structured more simply, alternating author by author. The first four sixpacks, called 'spanners' (because their diamond-shaped form worked as bridge or span between the writers)—have this curious sequencing:

The next four sixpacks, called (mostly after their subject matter) 'truants', simply ran Ken/Peter Ken/Peter Ken/Peter (then Peter/Ken Peter/Ken Peter/Ken and so on), each poem pursuing the one before it … or not, sometimes decamping and shifting to a different poetic or narrative 'direction'. Truants. The 'truants' could manage deflection, counterpoise, variation, contrast, resolution more lightly—in a purely serial fashion—where the 'spanners', in their balancing, counterposed triads, arguably set up heavier stabilities that, in consequence, entailed more violent reorientations and changes of direction.

Thinking at first to hide behind the name Walter Gabriel, once they had begun the poets realised their individual styles would soon be recognised. Why create mystery to no purpose? And, in any case, the poems were fun enough in themselves—for the authors—quite apart from mystery. For the reader they constitute a formidable introduction to the realities and problems of day to day life across a number of sites in the contemporary world—or, if the reader needs no such introduction, an escape and entertainment, by turns dramatic, fey, colourful and chastening. Philosophical, bracing, amusing—wise, could you call them wise? Probably not, or perhaps intermittently—but who can resist a sixpack?
— Walter Gabriel     

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