A still from The Desktop Metaphor
Some good newses to celebrate & projects to update!
Firstly, the filmpoem by Helmie Stil of my piece The Desktop Metaphor won the Jury Award at The Weimar Filmpoetry Festival! There’s more information about that here – and you can watch the piece at that link too. Helmie did a wonderful job with the poem; I love the film’s style and rhythm.
I’ve also just agreed to be the writer-facilitator on the Cheltenham Literature Festival project, Beyond Words. As the project website says:
In any given year, over 600 children In Gloucestershire are unable to access mainstream schooling due to conditions like cancer, eating disorders, epilepsy, and orthopaedic, neurological and respiratory disorders. The majority of these young people are aged between 14 and 16.
Working with the Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service (GHES), Cheltenham Festivals is giving every KS4 student the opportunity to work over time with a writer-in-residence, either in person or via a digital learning platform.
This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together my work with poetry, writing for wellbeing, young people and working in inspirational settings…Including museums, galleries and – hopefully – some which inspire the group about the more-than-human world. I’ll post up more information later in the year; it’s going to be a wonderful project.
Recently, I’ve been delivering some school workshops for Bristol City Museums Service alongside the Grayson Perry exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences – which tell the story of Tim Rakewell though six splendid tapestries. We’ve been exploring taste, class and Stuff, enjoying those details of our material lives which can say so much about us.
Finally, this week I became a Dementia Friend – having been on the training with some fellow artists at Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery. This is ahead of workshops we’ll be delivering for those living with dementia, around the paintings there – particularly Saint Luke Painting the Virgin and Child, recently acquired by the Museum in collaboration with others.
Oh, there’s also the small matter of an MSc Dissertation to get written…
Further updates a little later in the year.
Earlier in September, I was invited by Knowle West Media Centre to write a ‘bedtime story for an artists’ at their Artist Hotel sleepover.
I borrowed guided relaxation techniques from solution-focused hypnotherapy (thanks, Emma Edwards / Shine for tips on doing so safely), animal creation myths, and lovely rhyming bedtime stories: a bit of A A Milne lyricism, a splash of Dr Seuss sass, with some Channel 4 reality formats thrown in…
The story used the animal characters and dreamy rhyme to invite the artists present (and now you) to become relaxed, and explore ideas of home, hospitality – to picture a scenario where we invite everyone in, to a perfect home, for a perfect soiree.
So I recorded the script as I read it, here – so find yourself somewhere comfy for a sit down and to relax with it – ideally before bed. And especially if you’re hosting, or going to be hosting, any kind of soiree, workshop, or event.
I hope that the story generates some interesting images in your unconscious of perfect hospitality – and feel free to comment below with any experiences and reflections about these themes.
I’ve just finished facilitating four sessions, working with Wyldwood Arts – a group of 18-25 year olds from the Bristol Old Vic young producers worked with residents of Monica Wills House writing around the themes of Earth, Water, Fire and Air.
There was a lot of laughter and some really beautiful, playful and moving pieces of writing – and Wyldwood have made a wonderful short film which captures some of this. Here it is!
“a transitory and changing constellation of percepts, hunger and muscular flexing” – a quote about the swallow, from Andrew Jeffrey‘s presentation
On Saturday, I went over the Severn to Cardiff Met University – to attend the Writing Between the Lines Symposium, on Creative Writing as Research Methodology with a keynote by Professor Kevin Mills.
Highlights for me were seeing papers by Andrew Jeffrey from Sheffield Hallam Uni – whose work roving around Sheffield to write about animals he encounters was fascinating, and delivered with huge energy and verve – I really enjoyed his energetic approach and his writing. You can see the presentation on his blog here.
I also really enjoyed hearing Megan Hayes‘ model of writing for wellbeing – drawing in aspects of Positive Psychology and ‘grounded theory’. Looking forward to hearing more about this, as it seemed a very thought-through, thoughtful and fresh approach.
And it was great too to meet Richie Copeland, hear about ‘My’ [or rather, ‘His’] Naked Queer Poetics – and discuss marriage Vs civil partnership and heteronormativity, in the loo…
Also, I finally actually met The Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma, with whom I have regular (political and poetical) exchanges on Facebook – but haven’t met in ‘meatspace’ yet. (By the way, you should order her new book The Everyday Poet you know (you’re welcome, Deborah)).
Doubtless there were others worth of mention, but these were the talks and interactions which stayed with me.
Here’s a short film made by me, about the excellent Growing Bolder project – funded by Bristol Ageing Better – and the performance we did at Avenue House care home (in Redland, Bristol) on 7th July. Enjoy!
There are more examples of videos I’ve made on the Word Rocket YouTube channel here.
And if you’d like me to make a film of your project or event – please get in touch.
For my Off The Record WRITE OFF group today, we had a lovely time reading some Limericks and then having a go at writing our own…Here’s a couple of mine:
Limerick The First (based on our weekly rubbish-collection annoyance):
A couple on Johnny Ball Lane
Are wading through rubbish again:
They open their gate
And both get irate,
Saying: “It’s the EU that’s the blame!”*
*NB: this is a joke, to try and alleviate some of the horrors of the current Brexitocalypse we’re experiencing.
Limerick The Second (see image above):
A jovial collosal squid
Got upset when everyone hid:
As it reached for the sky
For an eightfold Hi Hi!
The pirates looked less intrepid.
Last week in my group with Off The Record, we looked at Andrew McMillan’s poem ‘TODAY’ from his great collection Physical (which you should buy too)…
Having read and reflected on it, we then thought about a space we know really well – and let our mind’s eye (‘floating camera’, as it were) loose around the space, writing about it (as McMillan’s poem does) in direct address (‘you’) and future tense (‘you will…’).
I thought I’d share my piece of writing that came from this exercise – it’s fascinating how changing tense and first/second/third person can affect the way one writes.
Perhaps inevitably, echoes of McMillan’s poem entered all the pieces of writing – so this is absolutely an exercise, response, and poem inspired by – and not something I’ll be taking ‘credit’ for as an original approach! (So thanks, Andrew, for the great poem and inspiration.)
– after Andrew McMillan
Today, you’ll step from the door
and into some chewing gum
the seagulls will serenade
the pigeons; the weather-
vanes will all point West.
Today you’ll see that all of the bricks
are spelt the same, that everyone’s faces
rhyme.. You’ll regret going to bed
so late, but you’ll do it again.
Today the binmen will curse
the randomness of the Lane, saying
They think glass is plastic and cardboard is clothing
and you’ll drink coffee as the break
lights glare at you.
Today the waiters of the Grand Hotel
will polish cutlery and their wit
the man with gnarly fingers
who collects the bridge toll
will run out of change and meet
his future wife as he seeks 50p’s
at the Crepe Affaire stall.
The next WRITE OFF sessions start Tuesday June 7th at Beatroots Cafe, Lower Park Row, 17.00 – 18.30, for six weeks.
The young people who attend the group rephave been really enjoying the mix of reading and writing for wellbeing and fun.
We try out new activities, experiments and styles – working with words in the very broadest way! We’ve done everything from experimental sound poems to third-person stories about our morning routines, to ‘story hot house’ verbal storytelling, and ‘subvertising’.
I plan sessions based on what the group members would like to do (or try, or re-try). And for anyone anxious about reading together in this kind of group: we don’t schoolsplain (a word I’ve picked up through it) and you never have to read anything aloud you don’t want to.
All are welcome, from aged 16 – 25. If you can email ahead, I’ll make sure there is enough cake – but no problem if you can’t.
Look forward to seeing you there!
Yes, it’s very much like this one.
In haste, this morning…
Yesterday, I ran a group with some young people in which we looked at Wallace Stevens’ ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’.
Then we explored looking at something in five ways (no time for thirteen in the session!)…and this is what I wrote:
Five Ways of Looking at the Coffee Grinder
In the corner, the coffee grinder
Keeps watch, all night.
He buys us very thoughtful
Gifts, like this: a coffee grinder
Which gets used less and less.
Once hand-cranked, now the coffee grinder
Takes its power from the mains.
In the aisle of Tesco, I puzzle
Over the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade logo;
Which will channel the least
Evil through the coffee grinder.
A man and a man
A man and a man and a coffee grinder
Are a family.
The skill game where you’re the doctor!
A tritina, from yesterday’s prompt, and without an introduction…
**NB Taken this one down as I might well tweak and submit it around**