Hands

A poem of mine, ‘Hands’,  has just gone up on Folia Magazine online – you can read it here.

The poem came out of a workshop a couple of years ago in Leeds, with writer and facilitator Rommi SmithThe starting point was smells – for me, the Vaseline Intensive Care in the first stanza (with the second part leading on from that). 

Folia’s aim is to “foster a deeper appreciation for the poetry of life, death, and medicine” – which was why I submitted this piece. It’s a poem which moves around in time, with a childhood memory of driving in the car with my Mum (and her hand cream), juxtaposed with a later conversation about her going through chemotherapy.

I hope my Mum doesn’t mind this being ‘out there’; in some ways it’s not my experience to write about (though the conversation was, I guess). She dealt with the process of treatment with incredible humour and courage – so I hope the poem evokes this powerful being, who can (and does) deal with whatever life throws at her.

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‘Chainmail’ Poetry School Project – Pamphlet Goes Live!

Our Poetry School Microcommission, Chainmail (for Nicky Morgan) is now in a wonderful PDF flicky book on their website – you can read it here.

It’s been an interesting process and the publication is intriguing and eclectic. We hope you enjoy it!

Please pass on the link to your STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) contacts…

Poetry School Microcommission: First Report

Shaun’s response to a government report on Innovation…

There’s a quick update on The Poetry School Microcommission project, ‘Chainmail’, that I’m doing just now – you can read it here. Some really interesting work being produced; most looking forward to seeing the projects’ outcomes – and ours!

Email-as-art-form isn’t without its challenges! We’re a diasporic (yes it’s a word) team, across Bristol (where I am), London (where Luke and Rach are), Manchester (where Neil is / is off gallivanting) and finally in Orkney (to where Shaun has just moved and been rather foxed by BT’s failure to connect broadband). I’m the common point with the other participants, who I hope will get to know each other well through this work, and my main focus as the ‘nodal point’ has been ensuring these strangers all feel safe to experiment, take risks and just have fun with emailing.

Eyedrum Periodically: Backwards

Two of my poems – as well as an array of splendid work – are in this edition of Eyedrum Periodically, on the theme of ‘Backwards’.

Of my two: one poem relates to upside-down art (or does it?); the other to topsy-turvy time (or does it?). OK, I’ll stop that now (or will I?). Yes, I will.

I hope you enjoy all the work included – looking forward to reading everyone’s work in the publication.

LS13 Anthology and Upcoming Gigs

A quick update also that – GOOD NEWS – I’m going to be one of the poets featured in the LS13 Leeds Writers anthology, about which more information here. It’ll be launched next Friday June 7th as part of the Leeds Big Book End weekend.

Also, I’ll be performing at a couple of upcoming nights:

Firstly at Spoken Weird in Halifax on Thursday June 13th at the Sportsman Pub – full details here. The May event was a real pleasure – a room full of attentive poetry-lovers, sharing their joy in words. Looking forward to doing a fifteen-minute set for the occasion…

And on June 26th I’ll be doing another fifteen-minuter at the Poetry by HEART event at the Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre – hopefully you can click through to more information here.

Looking forward to all of the above and would be lovely to see anyone who fancies it there 🙂

NaPoWriMo 5: Unprompted Art Poetry

 

Paul Jenkins’ ‘Phenomena Secret Cargo’ – but not as we saw it in the gallery…Which is right?

Day 6 of NaPoWriMo – I’m still brewing a cinquain from yesterday (which are HARD!) but here is a non-prompt piece inspired by a visit to the gallery in Cardiff (Wales, where I am today). I’m writing overlooking the Wales Millennium Centre (with its Gwyneth Lewis quote writ large on the front: IN THESE STONES HORIZONS SING) from a lovely cafe called Kemi’s in Cardiff Bay.

So my NaPoWriMo efforts might come a bit out of sequence (I am one behind!) – and that fits rather well with today’s atemporal slightly-experimental back-to-front work. (I’m not sure it does ‘work’ yet – but in the spirit of keeping on keeping on for NaPoWriMo, here it is anyway…)

A brief explanation: a friend and I (hello Rachel if you are reading!) went to this exhibition at the Wales National Museum Gallery and both really enjoyed the picture (above, kind of). But when we Googled it, it was upside down. Or the one in the gallery was. And really, really different because of it – not the same painting at all.

So I wrote an upside-down art poem about the incident. Here it is:

 

After seeing Phenomena Secret Cargo by Paul Jenkins

or, Up Way Which?

 

We part ways

and on my screen,

a satellite-line paints itself,

writes itself, unseen

blue, through the city

to this bay.

 

So we go to the desk

to ask a lady beneath an i

if she knew why

the Internet said

it should go up

the other way?

 

Drinking tea, we talk about writing

and find the picture, Googling on

gravity-sensing devices. But the

thumbnails show it upside-down:

Cargo Secret Phenomena.

 

In the top gallery, we talk about

Yves Klein Blue and layers

of paint in original Rothko. Then

Phenomena Secret Cargo

by Paul Jenkins. It looks like wings,

we say, like butterflies, like feathers.

How the brush sweeps up:

like it could fly.

 

One artist had refracted the stairs

in kaleidoscopic photographs –

(‘to make us question public space’)

curving up the walls.

 

Back through time,

we take pictures of

Mammoths, in panoramic mode

(which I just showed you how to use)

then make our way to the gallery,

strolling through Geology.

 

 

NaPoWriMo 4: Breath or, Inspiration / Exhalation

An Iain M. Banks Style Spaceship

A curious task today: make something using the names of spaceships from Iain M. Banks sci-fi books.

It must have been a synchronisity (or was it responsive?) for this to appear on the day that Iain has announced that he’s very ill with cancer and will probably not recover. (His very moving and pragmatic statement is here, too).

So I wrote a piece based on two of his ships’ names (all of which are wonderful fun):  Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity and Just Another Victim Of The Ambient Morality. I’ve taken them as the first word for each line in the poem, to push me into a structure.

And, in keeping with my series of poems inspired by science news stories, I was looking on BBC Science and found this story: about the possible diagnosis of (particularly) stomach cancers, using the breath. Essentially, our breath is – the research suggests – like our fingerprint: unique.

Whenever I’ve got stuck in writing, I looked for a next word from the article (a bit found-poem-y, yes) and also sought some Banks quotes too. So it’s a drawing together of today’s announcement, that story, and Banks’ amazing spaceship titles.

It is something of a sketch, with lots of SPACE in it – as it should be…

I’m copying it in as a JPEG below (which may be a bit small) and a definitely-readable PDF here: Breath or, Inspiration / Exhalation

(WordPress is NOT good at poems with any unusual layout in them and I would not sacrifice it!).

A NaPoWriMo poem based on the spaceship titles of Iain M Banks.

A NaPoWriMo poem based on the spaceship titles of Iain M Banks.

 

The Trailer Tent

Greetings,

Something a bit different!

I recently wrote some stream-of-consciousness reviews of film promos for The Leeds Debacle magazine.

(You can find the mag on Facebook here and on Twitter as @theleedsdebacle here.)

My feature is called The Trailer Tent – you can read it here (on p 18-19) and it’ll be out in print next week, so keep an eye out Loiners!

Hope you enjoy my very flippant responses to Hollywood’s hype machine…

Vermin On The Rise

A couple of stories recently linked very directly to my Vermin Cycle of poems.

The first is the great news that the EU has now banned all new cosmetics with ingredients tested on animals – to me, this seems entirely reasonable. There is a big difference between clinical trails for, say, a cancer treatment and, say, a new waterproof eye-liner. If it came to a decision between a rat and a family member dying, I would choose the family member – but the decision between a rat and some runny make up…? I don’t think it can be argued that is totally necessary.

My Vermin poem ‘An Exact Science’ is in the voice of a rat, one being tested on, and explores the idea of vanity.

The other story was one about the mighty bed bug. Scientists researching these resilient little creatures have discovered various genes which make them resistant to pesticides, and generally seriously tough little bugs.

My favourite Vermin poem, ‘Let Us Bite’, gave voice to the New York bed bug and certainly – I hope – presented it as tough.

You can read these and the other Vermin Cycle poems here.

Vermin On The Ascent!