NaPoWriMo 2.9: A Short Shukhov Tower Constructivist Playlist Poem

The Shukhov Tower in Moscow

Shukhov

Bones

skinny and constant

heaven lies

like a Hello? Hello?

If only. Don’t stop. No.

 

A little poem about the Shukhov (broadcasting) Tower (the future of which there is currently discussion over), written using a constructivist poetry approach which you can find here – and constructed with only the words from five song titles, via randomising my Most Played tracks. These were:

Skinny Bones (by The Ditty Bops)

Hello Heaven Hello (by James Yuill)

No Lie (James Yuill again)

Don’t Stop (by Owen Pallett)

Constants (James Yuill, who’s done well out of this exercise)

 

Addendum: There is a Russian revolutionary movement of ‘constructivism’, the manifesto for which you can read here.

There is, however, also an educational idea of constructivism – which I think my poem was based on more – which you can read about here.

My initial idea was to write something in the Russian Constructivist approach, but it seemed like that would have involved a great deal of graphic design…Maybe another time I’ll create a found latticework Constructivist poem from excerpts out of the Manifesto, about the tower. But that time is not tonight 😉

NaPoWriMo 24: Dust Across the Beam

Hyde Park Picture House: 100 in 2014!

As you may have noticed, things have been a bit cinematic on my blog during NaPoWriMo.

I’m reading a few poems (including my poem about the Invisible Cinema walking tour, from earlier in the month) on Sunday morning at an event to mark the centenary of Hyde Park Picture House. And here is a piece I wrote based on an earlier prompt from Canal Laureate Jo Bell, which was to write a poem of Welcome.

So, to celebrate the Picture House’s centenary, I wrote a welcome for its next 100 years – and here it is:

 

Twenty-One Thirteen

or, Dust Across the Beam

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may your bright skies usher in

the twenty-first century’s pigeons –

their future-coos upon the roof’s tiles

(not nesting in seats, feathering aisles).

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

the elaborate plaster flowers which grow

from the walls are the germinating magic bean

of all the cinemas to which we can no longer go.

A furrow of many bulbs (and most no longer glow).

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may the red curtains of each romance

open and close, close and open

on the clumsy ill-fated dance

of faltering fake yawns

and thousands of missed chances.

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may never the popcorn of cinema dreams

be trodden under giant flat-screen feet

confining chorus gasp, behind-you screams

to closed-curtain houses on sparse streets.

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen

and all the seconds in between:

may the 26-flicker of each second’s cell

combine with the terabytes of files, to tell

stories as many as dust across the beam.

For stories are light and light is the spell.

 

So welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may all your future screens,

even in desperate certificate eighteens

times contain only some scenes

of the mildest peril.

NaPoWriMo 13: Windowless Walls

Bagel Nash, which was once the News Theatre, by Leeds Station

Bagel Nash, which was once the News Theatre, by Leeds Station

 

I continue to run at a poetical-deficit, but will catch up soon (12 and 14 to follow today)…

Here’s my poem based on going for a walk: on Sunday, I went on a walking tour of some of the forgotten/disused cinemas around Leeds city centre – which is part of the celebration of 100 years of Hyde Park Picture House – and was organised by these fine folk (Conway and Young). I put up some more pictures of this walk yesterday

So I wrote this piece from jottings and thoughts while looking around these forgotten cinemas:

 

Windowless Walls

or, Cut (A Tour of Cinemas Past in Leeds)

 

At the News Theatre (where the only

fresh news is today’s bagels), we cut

open bags of popcorn and sniff

it like posies – warding something off –

and say how its aroma

is better than its taste.

 

Lyric, Lyceum, Olympia: we cut

a queue of ancient voices

through gusts of decades. Cinema

at the centre of the block-

buster’s vortex. The jump-

cuts in the waveforms of lives.

 

The Merrion Centre’s lights

and mirrors hold prisoner

a 1970s Odeon: the orange-brown

Autumnal kernel of

future past.

 

On a windowless wall, words over words

(of what was The Tower) meekly whisper how

there is Always a Good Programme. A frame

half-covering it booms Demand Everything! Now!

listing superstar DJ-names and Gatecrasher-choons.

 

3-D digi-HD smell-o-feel-o-vision gimmickry,

in this most flammable and malleable of media:

memory. Bricks begin to flicker.

 

Dust in the lens, my eyes

water: a strong wind, cut

full of particulate matter.

We, the City’s Editors –

its planners and punters –

razor-blades poised to cut

between CGI-progress

and/or

celluloid-preservation.

Look Up: Primark was once a cinema, too.

Look Up: Primark was once a cinema, too.

 

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 3: A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development

Prompt no. 3 of NaPoWriMo was to write a sea shanty. This pleased me greatly as I’m a part of (when I can make it!) the Ocean Loiners – a sea shanty singing group in Leeds (hence the name: Leeds folk are known as ‘Loiners’)…

Here’s a video of us belting out ‘Three Jolly Fishermen’ at the Theatre By the Lake in Bradford in October last year. (I am the lanky one in the blue t-shirt in case you’re wondering!)

I’ve turned my attention to the place where I live as the subject for my shanty – as I live on a floating home (a narrowboat), so shanties feel like (spuriously) part of my sailor heritage. This is a song about how places like the one on which I live don’t always pan out as hoped for! Technically, I suppose this should be an Inland Waterway Shanty…

And, as an experiment, I made up an extremely derivative tune and then SANG it, into my phone via SoundCloud – shanties are meant to be sung! Hopefully you can listen to the whole thing above and not be turned deaf / mad / made to unsubscribe from the blog in disgust…

So you can sing along, if you like:

 

A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development

 

In the Early Noughties, ‘pon the booming swell,

It was BUY BUY BUY, it was SELL SELL SELL:

So they built above the water of Clarence Dock

Luxury apartments and fancy shops.

 

(CHORUS)

Oh the Dock, she be in a right old mess,

With her Pizza Express and her Tesco Express

And her – yes – her Holiday-Inn Express:

They’re the only things fast enough to float,

Except for curry houses and narrow boats.

 

And they built a special section with its own jetty

Where the fancy floating restaurants would be:

Now the only thing a-moored around the butts of fags

Are the blue-striped plastic carrier bags.

 

Sometimes in the night you can hear the hullaballoo

Of some merry-making drunks (who are only passing through).

But the only voices bouncing off the moored ships’ hulls

Are the quacking ducks’ and the screeching gulls’.

 

Now in an empty window of an old high-fashion store

There’s a hopeful artist’s image of what could have come before.

And like the ocean’s waves, there’s one thing that you can trust:

Is that after there’s a boom, there will always be a bust.