Declaring Climate Emergency

Having performed a poem at the Culture Declares Emergency (CDE) Bristol launch on Friday 28th, I’m making my individual declaration of Climate Emergency.

Declaration: I , Caleb Parkin, declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency

I pledge to work with and support our community and local government in tackling this Emergency, and call on others to do the same.

These are my intentions:

1. I will tell the Truth

Governments, and their public broadcasters and cultural agencies, must tell the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change. ‍

I will communicate with citizens and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed. 

2. I will take Action

Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.

I pledge to work towards reducing emissions to net zero* by 2025.

I will challenge policies and actions of local and national governments and their agencies, where I interact with them, that do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels.

I will actively work to imagine and model ways that my practice can regenerate the planet’s resources. 

3. I am committed to Justice

The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Arts and Culture can imagine and forge shifts in the ways we relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours.

I will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression amidst our communities about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed. 

I will support demands for more democracy within our civic institutions and government.

I believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice, based on intersectional principles**, led by and for marginalised people.


*Net zero means that on balance one’s activities are zero emissions, taking into account all possible Greenhouse Gas emissions and actions taken to mitigate or offset those emissions. 

**Awareness of how systems of power combine to multiply the impacts on those who are most marginalised in society. 


If you’re an artist or cultural organisation and wish to state your intention publicly to take action on the climate and ecological emergency, there is a template to do so here.

It might not seem like much – but I feel that there can be a cultural, as well as a climate, tipping point. And if we keep on applying pressure, keep up visibility, and actively work towards an inclusive environmental movement – then every step like this counts. So I encourage you and your organisation to make a Declaration too.

I’ll try to blog more on this – and what it actually means in day-to-day practice – in future.

KS4 Creative Writing Sessions on Zoom

A quick post to share that I’ll be hosting creative groups for Key Stage 4 students initially (years 9 to 11) – with an emphasis on wellbeing – Tuesday afternoons, 2 – 2.50 (BST).

Students, parents and carers can sign up here, through KITE therapeutic learning service –  and explore their range of other tutoring sessions.
My sessions will offer a space for young people to write for wellbeing, with a particular focus on creativity from our immediate surroundings (for obvious reasons).
As with all my sessions, they’ll be inclusive, playful and well structured.
These are a paid-for course, but I’ll share some details soon about other online resources I’m working on which will be free to access.
Please share this around your networks for anyone who might be interested in signing up.
Keep writing, creating and connecting, everyone.

New Year, New Wings

Image may contain: Caleb Couldbethemoon Parkin, smiling

2019, when I had – in a very real sense – wings.

A belated and brief round-up of last year (I know – it’s nearly February, but midwinter just isn’t my time). 2019 was the year in which I:

Graduated from my MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP), with a dissertation focused on CWTP in museum and gallery settings. I’m immensely proud of the achievement and the training continues to provide me with valuable insights into group process and practical ways of getting the most of the wellbeing aspects of all the groups which I facilitate.

Received Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice funding, to work on my first collection – hurrah! This is progressing nicely and I’m so enjoying the creative freedom to explore queering ecopoetics, more-than-human kinships and the intersections of technology and ecology…Watch this space for more info as that progresse

Worked on lots of projects and workshops, including:

I also performed and ran workshops at Shambala Festival and Poetry in Aldeburgh.

It’s no wonder one gets a little tired and needs a midwinter break, eh?


2020 is off to a vibrant start with publications and projects, including:

  • A selection of my poems on Molly Bloom, here
  • My poem ‘Screenwash’ will be Poem of the Month in Bristol 24/7in February
  • A cephalopod poem of mine will be appearing in Envoi  in April
  • A Section 28-inspired poem appearing in Lighthouse in April
  • I’ll have a (jellyfish/climate change/Dylan Thomas) poem in the Dear Dylan anthology from Indigo Dreams in spring
  • An LGBT+ schools creative writing resource will be on the First Story website in time for LGBT+ History Month in February
  • I’m currently writing a resource for the Foyle Young Poets teacher resource book – more on this once it’s out in the world.

This is also the year I hope to complete my first collection and move it towards publication – which is very exciting indeed!

In these strange and troubled times, I’m extremely appreciative that my work is creative, helpful to others and fulfilling for me. May your work be so for you, too.

Onwards!

Swindon, Aldeburgh, Resources

Swindon Collage

Surreal objets, masks, The Tent Palace of the Delicious Air, Roy McFarlane performing, and the Poets’ Umbrellas.

Just back from the Big Poetry Weekend in Swindon: such a warm, cosy, collaborative and connective happening. It was my first one and I was struck by how the scale of it and the location made it incredibly rich: a smaller collective, engaging deeply with the work and each other, in the Tent Palace of the Delicious Air (a small marquee) in the garden of the Richard Jeffries Museum.

My highlights were: working on voices and masks with Fiona Benson (and her powerful, intense reading); Hilda Sheehan’s workshop on (a hungover) Sunday; the richness and quality of the open mic sessions; re-engaging and feeling energised about filmpoetry, and Nuar Alsadir‘s incredibly inspiring talk and reading – which really fired me up again about experimental, intuitive, interdisciplinary poetry.


I’m delighted to be running a session on Queering Ecopoetry at Poetry in Aldeburgh next month. This is an area I’ve been researching, reading and writing around since summer and it’s been extremely creatively rich. I’ll have poems, activities and critical quotes to share. It’ll be playful, interactive and – I hope – fabulously illuminating. British ecopoetry is, I think, overdue a good queering.

Here’s a video of some Nu-Rave eye-tentacled ‘zombie snails’ (famous from social media lately) to get you excited by the gloriously monstrous, colourful, permeable and interdepedent aspects of that lovely, pure ‘nature’ out there 🙂


Resources and Articles:

Over the last year, I’ve worked on a number of resources, some of which are out in the world and others currently in development. Here’s a run-down (I’ve been busy!):

  • A commission from the Poetry Society, here’s some inspiration for the National Poetry Competition, a resource based on two of my favourite past winners
  • Our Max Literacy ‘Talking Pictures’ resource will be available soon, through their website here – it’ll give a range of activities for primary age writers to engage with an art gallery and stage their own ‘living gallery
  • In collaboration with the Bristol Museums Service, I’ve also worked on a redesigned Arts Award booklet – which will enable young writers to achieve their Discover level award through writing about artwork in any gallery. More info on their Arts Award programme, here.
  • With a different museum collaborator, I was part of a team who developed the ArtBox, a resource for people living with dementia and their carers to engage with St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, a loaned painting on display in the City Museum & Art Gallery. This evolved from some Creative Cafe sessions I’d hosted there and the outputs of other creative sessions. The finished ArtBox is a thing of great beauty, with a poem around the lid I wrote from words from the sessions, as well as a magnetic poetry set inspired by the painting and our groups’ responses to it.
  • Over winter, I worked on an LGBT+ creative writing resource for First Story – this is in the pipeline and I’ll add a link next year in time for LGBT History Month in February
  • Finally, I’ve written an article on Resilience for freelance writers (a subject, of course, close to my heart!) which will be in an upcoming National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) journal.

It’s great that so many of the projects I’ve worked on, from First Story to the Museum work, is translating into resources which I hope will support others’ creativity. More on the upcoming resources once they’re ready!

I’ll do another Queer Ecopoetry update after my session in Aldeburgh, this time next month.

 

Dissertation, Publication, Projectification

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Ekphrasis for All! (See Max Literacy update below)

(No, projectification is not a word – but I just needed to finish the ‘-ification’ thing, OK?)

CWTP MSc Dissertation

A quick update on a few things – most notably that: I’ve passed my Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) MSc Dissertation!

The dissertation focused on ways in which CWTP might be used in a museum or gallery setting, so there was a huge amount to think about – particularly materiality, working with objects, decolonising museum spaces (or trying to!), poetry as a research methodology and transcriptions re-presented as poetry…

It was, admittedly (or perhaps rightly), the most challenging (OK: difficult) piece of writing I’ve yet had to do! It really stretched my abilities and thinking through the rigour of writing in the Social Science thesis format.

Very little had been written before specifically focusing on CWTP or writing for wellbeing in museums and galleries, which meant it was both a useful exercise (I hope) and there was a lot of bringing things together.

I’m looking forward to graduating with my coursemates in July. The course was through Metanoia Institute and accredited through Middlesex University – and you can find out more about it here.


Publications

It’s been a good year so far for publications, I’m delighted to have had poems in:

the gorgeously handstitched Coast to Coast to Coast;

Nine Arches Press’ excellent journal Under the Radar;

the beautifully-produced (and pleasingly anonymously-selected!) Butcher’s Dog.

There are long swathes of time when nothing finds a home anywhere – so it’s really pleasing when some of one’s work (and really often not the poems you’re expecting) find homes in such wonderful company and in such carefully- and lovingly-produced journals.

Nobody’s in poetry for the money! For me, though, that’s part of what makes it such a wonderful ecology, to me. Yes, it’s difficult to make a living, but hell yes – people who thrive in poetry do so through their passion*.

There’s potential progress on my first single-authored pamphlet, but I’ll update on this once it’s more definite!

*Also: asking to be paid; being boundaried; working hard; being nice & being efficient.


Max Literacy

I was very lucky to work with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – with whom I’ve worked a great deal in the last few years – and Compass Point School on a Max Literacy Award project from January – March this year.

It was my pleasure to work with the year two and five classes in the school, who were immense fun. Writing creatively about art and objects is such a brilliant, nourishing thing to do – I hope they’ll feel confident and excited to go into more museums and galleries, equipped with pen(cil) and paper, and explore with their senses and their imaginations.

There’s an article about the project here and we’re in the process of developing and finalising the resources to go on their website. Watch this space.


National Writing Day

There’s a little video I made for the National Writing Day website, on the topic of Why I Write – which you can watch, here.

NB: this video was made while in the middle of CWTP dissertation writing, so excuse the bags under the eyes and the slightly lost look! That said, the MSc has made my processes so much clearer to me – so a good way of bringing this update full circle.

Keep reading, writing and exploring – I will be.

Trello Submissions Template

I’ve started using Trello as a way of keeping track of my poertry submissions to competitions and journals – and have found it a really useful way of doing so.

As such, I thought I’d make a template to share for others to use, if you’re so Trello-inclined.

It’s very important you click on the right hand Menu –> More –> Copy Board, then save it as a PRIVATE board for your own system. Otherwise, everyone will be able to see/use it! This is a *public template* to start your own.

There’s also a list of journal windows which is on the board to the left – click through and you’ll find it.

I hope the board is useful! You can find it here:

https://trello.com/b/Ut0zQyjT

Extrasensory Perceptions: Fortean Poetry

giphy

Though let’s be honest, it’s seriously slippery.

Some upcoming and ongoing projects:

I’m delighted to be running a weekend of Fortean Poetry for The Poetry School on May 11th and 12th at their base in Canada Water, London.

How can our writing explore the edges of our understanding – or even beyond it?

How might we engage with phenomena or experiences beyond the ‘normal’ in our poetries?

Hope to see you there…

(Feel free to connect telepathically, via ESP or EVP if any of these abilities are available to you.)


This morning, we had the last of six workshops of the Beyond Words project with Cheltenham Literature Festival. 

We’ve created manifestos in Victorian classroom of Gloucester Life Museum, spooky stories in Manor by the Lake, explored haiku (and had our own Gingko Walk) in the snowy grounds of Sudeley Castle, discovered our Power Animals in the Nature in Art Gallery, and today created paint colour and praise poems in The Wilson, Cheltenham.

Now it’s on to creating our anthology – and I’m so looking forward to seeing this progress. The group have been wonderful and it’s been a treat to work in all these inspiring locations.


Tomorrow, I’ll be back up in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, for our next Max Literacy Award workshop. I’m working with the museum service and Compass Point Primary school on developing ways to engage kids in the painting collections there – and we’ve been trying out inhabiting our expertise through ‘Nom de Plumes’ and ‘Expert Name’ personae.

We’re working towards the creation of resource boxes for those visiting the Museum and to go out to schools. It’s a deligthful challenge and continues to bring together my love of both visual art, museums and creative writing (especially poetry, of course).

Varder ‘er at Chelt Lit Fest

Polari Writing with the Palones of Chelt Lit Fest

Polari Writing with the Palones of Chelt Lit Crawl

A busy couple of weeks with Cheltenham Literature Festival workshops, amongst other things…

Last Saturday, I hosted What If You Couldn’t Polari ‘I Love You’? at the Lit Crawl event, a fun & poignant session

We started looking at Polari – a quick intro – a bijou clipette of literary-infused Julian and Sandy, got a bit of conversational chat, mixed it in with the special ‘lingos’ from our lives, then created a group poem of what we do or say, instead of those things we can’t say.

Here’s the resulting poem – shared with the group’s permission, and anonymised anyhow. It’s an activity I’ll try again and know that the ‘deflections’ or alternatives to what we can’t say will be so different every time:

Because I Can’t Say It

I say I’d love to! and I will do that right now!
I get extremely fucking polite. So cold it burns.
I smile and nod in sympathy.
I resort to social niceties.
I say would you like a cup of tea?
I nod my head, grit my teeth, and think of Australia.
I say to other people what I would say to them. Download!
I look at my mate, who I know is thinking the same thing,
we both hold our gaze for just long enough to acknowledge
each other, but not long.
I scowl.
I make up nicknames for them.
I say I will do it!
I sing out loud in the shower.
I say Thank you.
I say I’m sorry.
I say It’s fine (when it’s not).
I give him a book or a poem that says it for me.
I say Oooh…what do you think?
I bring him a coffee, a kiss and a smile.
I crack self-deprecating jokes.
I make puns that say it unnoticed.
I smile and say You’re welcome.
I say Does it make a difference?
I scream into my pillow.

I only wish I’d remembered the marvellous poem Oral English by Sheenagh Pugh – which is the most elegant treatment of Polari, Julian & Sandy, and the wider implications of it all – in one poem. You can find that in Double Bill: Poems Inspired by Popular Culture.

**

Today, I hosted a morning session entitled Red Wheelbarrow Beat Club, where we looked at some ‘Buddhish’ and Buddhist poems, especially relating to objects, pointing-out and the Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg.

We wrote our own versions of pointing-out poems such as The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams, had a go at Ginsberg’s American Sentences (and invented British Sentences), and explored other poems by Buddhist Lama (teacher) Chogyam Trungpa and contemporary Buddhist (amazing) poet, Chase Twichell.

Here are some of my efforts from the session:

Something Chogyam Trungpa-inspired…

A printer is always frustrated

A printer is always frustrated because it stutters.
Paper clips are chipper and grippy.
A laptop is busy going to sleep.
A poet wallows in ink.

A window without frame or glass
And a house without walls or roof
Are inviting in the autumn wind
The ink which the sky provides

Something Wheelbarrow inspired…

The Peg

so much depends
upon

the wooden clothes
peg

nestled with its
siblings

along our washing
line.

A Ginsberg-style 17-syllable non-haiku American Sentence…

Sign reads: 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK. And then: CLOSED.

What was lovely about these poems is how kids could engage with them, too – a session I’ll run again in future.

**

I’m also looking forward to starting work as this year’s writer-facilitator, on the Beyond Words project with the Literature Festival soon, too – and will aim to write some updates about our writing excursions and incursions, into inspiring locations…

Kit-Kats & Satellite of Love

Just back from a double whammy of festivals – Green Man and Shambala. Knackered! Both were very splendid happenings indeed.

Will post more fully about those once I’ve recovered –  but in the meantime, here’s a Kit-Kat inspired poem up on Poetry 24 a while back and I forgot to post here.

I’m also performing at Satellite of Love on September 12th at the Greenbank Pub in Easton, Bristol – do come along. Event information is here.

 

 

National Writing Day & A Poem A Week

Today, I’m in Nova Hreod Academy in Swindon for National Writing Day.  This morning we created Recipes for Poetry on a Sunny Day, en masse, with the poetry-generator-coding-machine (which is the young people’s brains, really).

I love bringing in these Surrealist approaches to writing, which smash elements together in peculiar ways and make duly peculiar images.

Soon I’ll be lugging my bag of newspapers and magazines into a found poetry and cut-ups session, which is always good, messy fun and reconnects us with words as things.

Take some time to think unusual thoughts and manifest them in words today! And maybe, every day…

Also, you can listen to my poem ‘Hands’ on the A Poem A Week podcast through the following link. I hope you enjoy it – Happy National Writing Day!