Four In a Forest: A Bedtime Story

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.

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A Recipe for Martian Happiness

marvin-the-martian

Marvin could do with a bit of this recipe, I reckon.

Last Thursday 27th July, I compered an event as part of at-Bristol’s Festival of What If-?

As part of the evening – with its excellent provocations on the theme of living on Mars – I crowd-sourced a poem: A Recipe for Martian Happiness. That poem is now disappeared forever (though someone might have been filming it on their phone, I think) – but I’ve used the components to generate another…

**NB contains a single, heroically-deployed swearword in first stanza**

A Recipe for Martian Happiness

Take:
3,004,437 kisses of rubies and warp-tunnel-bend them with a toolbelt.
3,279,491 metric fucktonnes of lipstick and propulse them with duct tape.
8,197,635 on the Kardashev Scale of roses; whizz with a lovely felt tip pen.

Add:
1,470,239 infinitesimally small bloods, which you’ll propel with a space-hopper pump.
4,724,435 centimetres of crochet, to asphyxiate with a defraction grate.
8,716,756 fathoms of macaws: endeavour these with
the machine on the shopping channel that slices the egg.

Continue with:
7,717,684 Angstroms of banjos and drip them with resilience.
3,508,683 planetfulls of strawberries to expand with a penknife.
3,094,126 semitones of folk dancing; smash with a molecular miner.

After that, locate:
6,680,979 planetoids of ferrets, so you can daydream them with a hairdryer.
4,813,550 voids of cold noses to hyperswim with a pen.
4,312,191 planet-hops of cat videos and accelerate them with a quantum discombobulator.

Pause a moment to fetch:
1,714,822 chunks of red lipstick, invented with a centrifuge.
9,705,975 baskets of fire, upthrusted with a whisk.
601,592 on the Beaufort Scale of sex, zoomed with a Mower Drill Toothbrush.

Finally, pop in:
3,498,057 furlongs of a Martian’s ruddy complexion, evaporated with a spiralizer.
4,550,125 glasses of Marslot, blinked with a sporknif.
Garnish with a run of compressors.
Method for generating this poem:

I asked those present at the What If We Lived on Mars? event to contribute to this poem – by writing:

  • Measurements of any kind (on yellow tags)
  • Ingredients – things that make you happy and/or are red (pink tags)
  • Verbs of any kind, spacey and non-spacey (green tags)
  • Tools of spacey and non-spacey kind (blue tags)

We then used this formula when performing the poem for the first and only time, in that iteration…

Take <random no. from phone app>
<measurement>
of <ingredient>
and <verb> it
with a <tool>
REPEAT UNTIL BORED/COMPLETE
Final sequence begins ‘Garnish with…’

Living On Mars

expanse200104

Hopefully living on Mars wouldn’t be much like The Expanse

Next week, I’ll be compering an event as part of at-Bristol’s ‘Festival of What If…’ – this one being around the question ‘what if we lived on Mars?’ There are details about the event here.

I might add in some specks of Martian poetry, references to Ray Bradbury’s ‘Martian Chronicles’, possible allusions to The Expanse, or even some Vogon Poetry…and I’ll be crowd-sourcing a recipe for living well on Mars (though it might not be quite what you expect…).

See you there!

(Mis)Behaviour at Green Man

I'm So Angry I Made a Sign

I’ll be leading some witty, silly, Petty Protest at Green Man Einstein’s Garden this year, as part of their theme of (Mis)Behaviour.

We’re going to be drilling down into the most pedantic and peculiar pet-hates, forming instant campaign groups with the perfect acronyms, and equipping ourselves with some poetic & comedic tools to make the best placards possible – then heading out with out whistles to cause a bit of a commotion around the festival site…

Then you can go back out into this increasingly-parodic world, ready to turn your new-found protesting skills to something else.

Because let’s face it: there’s plenty that’s not petty to protest about.

Growing Bolder Video

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.

NaPoWriMo 4.26: Views From the Pen

There was something I really wanted to write for a submission this week – so I duly have (and am treating it as my daily poem – though maybe I’ll write another later)…

It’s for the Show of Strength event ‘View from the Pen’ at Windmill Hill City Farm (just across the road from us here at BV Studios)…Where they’ll be choosing pieces of writing for actors to perform, in the animal’s pens – as the animals.

I’m not going to say which animal mine is, in case it gets selected, but if it doesn’t – then I’ll post it up here at a later date.

But fingers/claws/hooves/paws crossed it might end up coming to life in the City Farm, which would be tremendous fun.

 

NaPoWriMo 2.14: Questions To The Huddersfield Broad Canal Fishing Lady

But is she among them…?

It’s a catch up day again – I’m finding that poetry gathering- and writing-binges are how I’m doing NaPoWriMo today…

So here’s the all-questions-and-a-statement poem which – without knowing about the imminent terza rima (which I’m doing next) – has a similar-ish interlocking rhyme structure.

The subject for my questioning poem is a lady we see fishing in the canal near where we’re moored. Fishing being largely dominated by white blokes, she stood out in being of East Asian descent (or East Asian, I know not) and not carrying all the kit (as many anglers do as they populate the towpath of a Sunday). So she stands out in that regard as an angler – and in her manner.

She sits looking quite mysterious and rather well-dressed, sort of glamorous. We’ve tried saying hello when we’ve gone past on the boat, but she seems then to slope away unsmilingly. Perhaps it’s interrupting her quiet thinking/fishing time, time to gaze at the water – which is, I think, the real/main reason for fishing as sport…

(As my Mum once pointed out, if you took a bag of kittens to the local river and started dunking them to the point of drowning, there’d be an outcry – but sticking a hook in a fish’s mouth and hauling it out of the water until it’s nearly dead is, apparently, entirely different).

So the Huddersfield Broad Canal Fishing Lady is something of a mystery – and here’s my poem of questions to her:

 

To The Huddersfield Broad Canal Fishing Lady

 

Why do you fish in the Broad Canal?

Is your little white handbag stuffed with worms?

Do you model for unseen cameras, so stern?

Have you always fished in the Broad Canal?

 

Does your handbag flash-bulb, when it is time?

What need of such style for a sport so banal?

What towpath could call to a runway girl?

Is your bag paparazzi at fishing time?

 

Are the hooks that you use made of thin air?

Do the fish fill your silence, are you always a mime?

Do they peep up like journos, from down in the grime?

Are your hooks in the water just bubbles of air?

 

Would you be heron, or would you be crane?

Do you speak with the others, know all the right terms?

Are your sequins scraped scales, whereon sunlight squirms?

I cast out enigma, I reel in the same: a feathered reflection, a vanishing crane.

 

Love The Words on ELFM

I went along to ELFM Towers yesterday for a chat with the ever-gracious Peter Spafford on his monthly extravaganza of all things wordy, Love The Words.

You can hear our conversation and my poems (on topics ranging from red kites to exam invigilating and pirate-spiders) by clicking on this link. I hope you enjoy it, or some of it, or even just click on it to find out…

You can also hear an interview on the same programme with excellent Leeds writer Rommi Smith about her residency at the NHS, which is well worth a listen.