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.
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.
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**
“Let us get ourselves a pet…”
My, it’s getting late. Which might be why day three turned out quite so peculiarly (sorry not sorry). That’s my ‘excuse’ anyway.
I’d been meaning to write something about this news story for a while – and had the first couple of lines in my notebook. However, I’d suggest reading this poem first, then looking at the news story – just to see what the effect is…
You Can’t Look*
In an instant, our faces became Bacon
smears skyward; the low hiss of moon-
sized fans on the horizon,
kaleidoscoping in. Our limbs
reformatting. Our skin
more river than bank.
These wind-up trainers
running for the train
our brains are on. Touch
will be the only sense
we need. We will grow
haptic trunks, feel the sky
smudging. Why wouldn’t I want
a burning tyre for a mind?
For my body to slide
out of resolution, the icon
slipping from my swimsuit?
Let us take a holiday
from our abdomens.
Let us get ourselves a pet
that is Cerberus with a third
off. Let us be only half
but the half which grasps
beer. For our feet
will no longer touch
the ground, for neither
is ours, and neither
* NB: I asked the Jabberwacky chatbot: “What should I title this poem?”
It answered “You can’t look you don’t have eyes…”
And just then, when I told it, “Thank you, that’s perfect”, it replied:
“Nothing in this world is perfect.”
So far, so Neuromancer…
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 Smith. The 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.
“A world so flat and fair that everyone gets three lives…”
I’m continuing to write in response to moving image resources online…
This week, I noticed that there’s a whole array of computer games ‘Speed Runs’ (which you can peruse here) – where people screen-record themselves doing a game really fast. So I started writing around a particular game on there to see what happened – but moved on to other remembrances of computer games from my life.
Gaming might not seem like an obvious source of poetic inspiration – but I and many others spent a significant amount of time on Resident Evil, or Super Mario Bros, or – as in this poem – Sonic The Hedgehog.
I’m also reading Double Bill: Poems Inspired by Popular Culture – so perhaps that ‘zooming in’ on a particular pop-cultural facet of life and seeing where it takes you was on my mind.
It’s not – of course – necessarily about Sonic the Hedgehog…
The surname bristles too close to my pew.
As we shuffle out, I lay down five gold coins
for a hedgehog charity (instead of flowers).
And I’m back to the burnt 80s hues of our garden,
where the grandmother we shared laid down un-
diluted curiosity and cat food there, under analogue flash.
And I’m back to Sonic the Hedgehog: my lurid 16-bit
teens. A modular world of layers, levels where
you could curl into a ball and smash through walls.
A world so flat and fair that everyone gets three lives
or more if you gather those hundred gold rings, or know
the right buttons to press. And that dark screen appears:
I thought I’d set myself a challenge of writing every week from a public domain bit of film footage, to give my blog a ‘thing’ (yes, ‘a thing’)…
Over the last year, I’ve become more interested in the interplay of video, poetry, video-poetry, poetry-video, film-poetry, poetry-film – or however you’d like to label it. As a poet who loves film, it’s a rich and fertile inbetween space.
There are an incredible amount of free film resources out there to choose from, so in putting them to use as as source material for creative writing, I hoped I might be able to share some of them with you.
I’m going to give you my writing, followed by the film – but you can view them in whichever order you like:
You don’t always know
the door is open
when you’re chained
to the radiator, smoking.
You can’t always see
this trapezial light, or feel
the echoes of last night
that butt-in, splutter-splice
with this bloody morning city.
Your head is the ash
and you’re building it up.
Your head is the ash
and there’s never a tray.
Your head is the ash
but you’re still smoking
And you can watch the film here:
This is from the https://archive.org site, which contains an amazing range of film resources – have a look!
Having had an enquiry about it, I thought it might be useful to post this diagram which explains the Arts Award and what it means in the Qualifications & Credit Framework (QCF).
The Award comes in a few different levels, from ‘un-credited’ (Discover), to Entry Level 3 (Explore), Level 1 (Bronze), Silver (Level 2) and Gold (Level 3).
It’s a very open framework, and a great chance to develop artform understanding, creativity and project skills. I’m accredited to deliver up to Silver level – and this diagram shows what that equates to in the national scheme
I hope it’s useful! Drop me a line here if you’d like any more information.
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…