Shakeera lying in a green field with her hand towards the sun
NDCWales Presents

Plethu/Weave: Cyswllt | Datgyswllt 

Short Poetry Dance Film

Cyswllt, Datgyswllt by poet, Elan Grug Muse and dancer, Shakeera Ahmun explores notions of attachment and detachment and the complexities within those themes.

Choreographer, Dancer and Editor: Shakeera Ahmun

Poet: Elan Grug Muse

Shakeera headshot

Shakeera Ahmun
Shakeera Ahmun is a freelance dance artist and improv enthusiast based in Cardiff. She is inspired by music and the nuances of melody and rhythm, that drives her physicality and continuously sculpts her movement language. She has also recently experienced working with physical theatre, which has deeply informed her artistic practice.

Elan headshot

Elan Grug Muse
Grug Muse is a poet, editor and researcher. She is one of the founders and editor of Y Stamp magazine and published her first volume, Ar Ddisberod, with Barddas in 2017. She is a resident of Ulysses Shelter 2020, and is the holder of the Wales Literature 2020 Writers’ Bursaries. Her work has been published in publications including O’r Pedwar Gwynt, Barddas, Poetry Wales, Panorama: the journal of intelligent travel and others. A Writer at Work at Hay Festival 2018-19, she won the chair at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in 2013, and the chair of the Inter-college Eisteddfod in 2019. She is currently working on a doctoral project in Swansea University, sponsored by the AHRC Center for Doctoral Research in Celtic Studies.

Creating Attachments

This is a translation of a blog written by poet, Elan Grug Muse who collaborated with dancer Shakeera Ahmun to create Cyswllt | Datgyswllt, as a part of Plethu/Weave, a digital cross-artform project by Literature Wales and National Dance Company Wales.

'Helo, can you hear me?'

Why does the start of every Zoom conversation feel like two astronauts trying to communicate?

‘So, we're working together on this project. Do you have any ideas?'

It's hard to relax over Zoom, hard to create that informal space needed to chat. One eye is on the clock, and the other on whatever’s going on off screen. Without being in the same physical space, it’s hard to share those common reference points the quality of the coffee, the traffic on the road, the weather. Everyone is in their own little bubble and it’s difficult to reach out through the small window of the phone screen.

Other than Covid-19, of course. Everyone can ramble about Covid-19.

'How are things there?'

'Did you hear about this and that?’

'And how about those other things?’

The idea for our project came about from chatting about Covid. Talking about people succeeding in leaving violent relationships, Covid putting stress on relationships; as well as the stories of people coming together, to take care of neighbours, to support.

Not that the project is a direct response to Covid. We eventually started discussing relationships and followed the thread, about how people are tied together, sometimes in ways that strengthen, but often in ways that confine, and trap. The complexities of our relationships, and the importance of disentangling, sometimes as a means to secure the future of a relationship, and other times to escape from a toxic relationship, whether at a platonic or romantic level.

That's what I had in mind when writing the poem, and recording it, so that Shakeera, who doesn't speak Welsh, could hear the sound of the words to accompany the translation I made for her.

And then, wait, to see how she would go about interpreting the work. Like many’s relationship with different art forms that they are unfamiliar with with, I’m guilty of saying that ‘I don’t understand dance’ – guilty of assuming that the intention is to ‘understand’. Through Shakeera's interpretation, the structure of the dance seemed much closer to that familiar to me, poetry. Every shot of the video, and the combination of movements within each shot, felt like a line of poetry, and the cut between each shot had the same effect as a line break for me. Combining the two, Shakeera's cuts sometimes fell in the same place as mine in the poem; at other times, they flowed over, or they cut a line at its centre in an unexpected place – breaks that gave new perspective to the poem. Dare I say, like cerdd dant?

cyswllt/datgyswllt

 

Maen nhw’n trio hedfan barcud.
Ei lansio’n uchel, ei ddwylo’n dynn
am ei dwylo bychan. Llinynnau’n tynnu,
y sgwaryn bach yn saethu fyny cyn plymio
nôl i’r traeth. Mae’n gwrthod cydio.
Maen nhw’n ôl y barcud a thrio eto.
Ei bochau’n cochi. Does dim yn tycio.
Ac ar y dŵr mae bwi’n nofio,
hwnnw hefyd ynghlwm wrth rywbeth,
yn tynnu ar raff. Mae’r gwynt
yn chwipio’r dillad ar y lein, y ceblau trydan.
Dwi’n meddwl am rubanau’r hen gaséts
dynnais unwaith o’r riliau a’u taenu’n
wymon tywyll dros y tŷ. Dwi’n
dychmygu’r ceblau’n llacio, dychmygu’r bwi
yn datod ei holl glymau un min nos
a thorri’n rhydd.

Mae’r ferch yn dal i drio, ei thalcen
yn grych o ganolbwyntio, dwylo dad
yn dal ei phenelin. Mae mam yn lansio’r
barcud. Mae’r gwynt yn cydio. Y tri
yn sefyll yno’n gwylio’i hediad llyfn,
y ferch yn llywio, plwc i’r chwith,
addasu’r tensiwn, ac yna’n
gadael fynd.  

 

attachment/detachment (English translation)


They’re trying to fly a kite.
Launching it high, his hands tight
on her small hands. Line’s pull,
the small square shoots up before plummeting
back to the beach. It won’t catch.
They fetch the kite and try again.
Her cheeks get redder. Nothing works.
On the water, a buoy swims,
it is also tied to something,
is pulling on a rope. The wind
whips the clothes on the line, the electric cables.
I think of the ribbons of the old cassettes
that I pulled one time from their reels and spread them
like dark seaweed around the house. I
imagine the cables loosening, imagine the buoy
untying all its knots one evening
and breaking free.

The girl is still trying, her forehead
in a crease of concentration, dad’s hands
holding her elbow. Mam launches
the kite. The wind catches it. The three
stand there watching its smooth flight,
the girl steering, pluck to the left,
adjusting the tension, and then
letting go.