Sam Knot
Poet & painter


It seems to me that even the barest facts of life are like artistic climax, or epic epiphany, or ultra-scientific uber-wonder. It is simply astonishing even to exist, and the natural world is a joyride through uncontainable creative vision. We are magical monkeys with multiverses at our fingertips.

Yet this is a vision we can lose. Even though it might feel like the most natural thing in the world to be alive to life in this way, it is undeniably difficult to sustain and integrate such levels of openness, sensitivity, and wonder.

We might describe such heights in terms of "seeing the poetry of life" - yet poetry can suffer the same fate: meaning sometimes seems to just evaporate. But it waits. It lurks between the words, waiting for its equally creaturely dancing partner to animate and be animated.

William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, in their seeming simplicity, embody this kind of "hiding in plain sight". In their innate music, and their writhing decoration, they might appear to actively resist death, waiting to burst into your life and SQUEEGEE YOUR THIRD EYE!

These poems are songs, and we know Blake himself would sing them, although the music was never written down. Various people have set them to music since, perhaps most notably Allen Ginsberg. I wish to introduce an approach to singing them spontaneously, letting them act in our bodies to reveal melodies. I personally still struggle to sing in front of people - it can be a profoundly nerve-wracking thing to bare ones soul in such a way! - yet I love to do it: singing has helped me so much in keeping my spirits up through troublesome times, and in progressively deepening the presence of my own psychedelic experiences.

For me it is not about singing well, so much as being able to express oneself naturally. I am no professional, but due to my own experimental processes I do have a basic approach, an attitude, that I can share with you. I am hoping to learn something too! There will be no pressure if you are too shy - the singing is just a way to add another dimension to the poetry - the most important thing will be bringing the book to life by performing from it however we feel comfortable, and exploring its meanings together.

We will treat the book as a deck of cards - a game of sorts - reading as much or as little into any synchronicities as we may wish. It sometimes seems there is as much poetry between the poems as there is *in* them...

Eternal delight!

Sam Knot is a poet and painter. His first book of illustrated poetry, "Being Psilly," (as Samuel John Ross) was well received by the Psychedelic Press in 2012, and he has been published a few times since then in their journal. His presentation from Breaking Convention 2017, on metaphor in psychedelic poetry (in particular) and the possibility of something he playfully terms a "psychedelic analogic" (more generally) is featured in this year's collection.