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.

Videodrome

A quick hooray for two little videos:

This one, where I make a cameo in my red sparkly jacket, of a Wessex Inspiration Network residential – where I was documenting proceedings in a Zuihitsu style and presenting it back to the young people. An inspiring and great fun couple of days!

Also, due to the remarkable hard work and talent of Helmie Stil – the filmpoem of The Desktop Metaphor continues to be selected and shortlisted for film festivals across Europe…

Desktop Metaphor Official Selections

Weimar Win & More

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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 Differenceswhich 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.

 

Avant-Gardes & Manifestos

From January 23rd, I’ll be hosting a five-week fortnightly course, Letting Your Avant-Garde Down, at Hours here in Bristol.

I’m delighted to be working with The Poetry School, who are a great force for making poetry happen, and bringing people together to discover and delight in the process.

There’s an interview with me here about the course – do come along and we’ll explore together what ‘the avant-garde’ (if there is such a thing) can do for your writing, and what you can bring to the newest, yet-to-be-imagined avant-gardes, too…

Fortuitously, the film Manifesto, starring a chameleonic Cate Blanchett, is out at the moment – I’ll be going to see it next week. Might be a rather marvellous way of introducing oneself to the Ghost of Avant-Gardes Past.

Here’s the trailer:

Winchester Poetry Prize – Winner!

**UPDATED**

Somewhere to Keep the Rain cover

My poem is the winners’ anthology title!

I was double-thrilled & beyond delighted to find out that my poem, Somewhere To Keep The Rain – after Wen Ying-Tsai, Umbrella (1971) won first prize in this year’s Winchester Poetry Prize – judged by (2016 T S Eliot Prize Winner) Sarah Howe.

It’s always an honour to make it to any of the mentions in a competition – not least because, like many poets, I put a lot of time, love and energy into entering and submitting work here, there and everywhere.

I discovered that I’d won the first prize while I was on holiday – via Twitter! After which there might have been a *few too many Maltese cocktails* and a sore head the following day.

Having a poem which feels close to my heart recognised – and by such a renowned poet – is wonderful. It’s a piece which responded to a sculpture previously installed in the Tate Modern’s ‘Tanks’ space – and, for me, gives voice to those days when you feel exposed, raw somehow, and like the volume of the world is turned up to the max.

So it’s not just winning the competition – but that a poem which tries to encapsulate this feeling has been understood, that it has communicated – and now gives its title to the winners’ anthology (see above). I’m looking forward immensely to reading this, cover to cover.

When nods like this (or my National Poetry Competition Second Prize and Rialto Pamphlet shortlisting ealier this year ) come around, it’s good to celebrate and really notice – it gives us fuel to keep going. So: keep going!

As I couldn’t make it to the ceremony, I made this video reading of the poem – I hope you enjoy it:

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.

Green Man Gripes & Shambling

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Shambling at Shambala 2017

It’s been a busy couple of festival weeks! And I’m just starting to return to the so-called ‘Real World’…

The weekend before last, I was running my Petty Protest workshops at Einstein’s Garden, Green Man Festival. Some excellent, witty griping went on – here’s some pictures:

I now have a MEGAPHONE and will be planning some projects in which I can use it again…

And then this weekend, I went to Shambala for the first time. It’s a really wonderful festival, full of generosity, creativity, appreciation, energy, and downright silliness.

It’s a very free and friendly event – some of my highlights being Power Ballad Yoga and Oh My God, It’s The Church! My quick description of the festival was ‘The 1960s fed through Google DeepDream’…So to document my first time there, I wrote a poem gathering some of the moments that stay with me – here it is.

NB: This is a poem for adults! Contains psychedelic imagery and reference to specific body-parts!

Shambling
(v.) – To attend Shambhala Festival (2017)

When the floor is your wardrobe.
When the sky roars from 30,000 eyes.
When you knock on your neighbour’s tent
of rainbow hair.
When your toes are doused in dahl.
When the urinals branch and billow.
When there’s sexy sequin soup between the pods.
When you meet bacon roving the woods, but nowhere else.
When Sexy Jesus reaches up yo’ ass all the way to yo’ heart.
When the flamingos form a Union.
When you’re at the urinal, blowing bubbles.
When you realise being Upside Down and Inside Out
might not be a nice thing, Diana?
When bacon sees you’re holding a spatula.
When the lipstick misses your mouth so far
you think it’s a scar under your chest hair.
When sauna chat rehydrates tardigrades.
When there’s glitter under your foreskin.
When you’ve no idea how you’re going to get out
of this outfit, but it’s entirely worth it.
When you meet a family of fellow gold-winged
beings and they give you a medal.
When you discuss seriously the toilets with which
you’ve formed an inappropriate bond.
When you grasp the spiritual plectrum and, when ready, expel.
When Jimmy Big-Top becomes real.
When Ship Out becomes his catchphrase.
When Shidney the Slow Loris Pirate finger-puppet becomes his sidekick.
When you convince the first person of all of this.
When the pyrotechnics make your eyes overflow.
When everyone sits down.
When I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.
When you were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.
When it was Dad’s Night tonight but Mum’s Night tomorrow.
When I wasn’t born a vegetarian! I want a burger!
When you can just come and put me on the helter-skelter,
but you don’t have to watch.

When the Snow Queen grew like a luminous shroom.
When we laughed so much we let out a little bit of neon.
When we found Helen on my hat.
When there’s an injury, then ice in every crevice.
When the Cuckoo Clock strikes two glittery boobs.
When a squatter in the corner of the Herris Fencing says in broad Northern
Irish, Solidarity with women! I’m just trying to understand their experiences.
When you blow your nose and Annie Lennox’s face comes out.
When you shout to a friend, but she’s a cloud and floats away.
When the trees are bioluminescent and living for their gig.
When Glitter Largesse gives it all away.
When you become Dispatula.
When you realise it’s got lights in too.
When you meet the stuffed dog in the cone of shame
and hear its backstory and stroke its nose, because it likes it.
When you adopt the beautiful unicorn people on the dancefloor.
When the woods flutter Spanish poetry from its million Monarch wings.
When you leave the womb as Red, Red Wine.
When you grow bright yellow tail plumage and shake it, shake it, shake it.
When all bodies are beautiful.
When queues are quilted & sawdust scented with sharing.
When play is a not a privilege but an Element.
When you receive free hugs and a free shrug.
When the security van rumbles through a sunrise sweet
as a perfect grapefruit, meep-meeping: You, sir, look *fabulous*.
When the Segway Grannies grind on their trundle buggies.
When movement is in everything and the trees
are punching the air and look: the infinite
tundra of our soles.

Living On Mars

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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.

Poetry Please & Filmpoem

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Two Good Things:

My National Poetry Competition second prize winner, ‘The Desktop Metaphor’ was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Poetry Please’ on the theme of ‘Work’ last Sunday – you can listen here.

The poem was also turned into a splendid filmpoem by Helmie Stil (above!) and you can watch the filmpoem here.

It’s been great for the poem to have a bit of a media flurry – the different responses to and aspects of the piece readers have found. The filmpoem brings out a wonderful darkness and playfulness in it, which I’ve really enjoyed – and hope you do too.

The other filmpoems of the top ten National Poetry Competition entries will be being screened at a special event – am looking forward to seeing them all.