Workshop for Humans


“intelligent, odd, scary”

This afternoon, I went to a ‘Workshop for Humans’ with Alex Bailey & Krõõt Juurak – after they came in yesterday afternoon to give a private performance for Barney (our border terrier). The performance – with a local agency news photographer present (you can see the video here) – was really interesting for Barney’s Humans (us) – and he definitely enjoyed aspects of it (as well as being a bit unnerved by others!).

As someone who doesn’t ‘do’ movement work – I found the workshop today really interesting, in trying to get a ‘felt sense’ of our favourite animals, not through words, but through movement (the animals’ ‘language’). I particularly enjoyed the ‘imprinting’ activity of having one’s limbs manipulated by others, holding in mind particular animals – a curious experience, and oddly, rather nice not to be in charge of my own body, for a bit.

One of the activities during session was apparently an old ‘personality test’ – the results of which I thought I’d share here.

We were asked to name our three favourite animals, in order, then to list three qualities we like about each, next to them. For me, this list looked like:

  1. Giraffe: elegant; clumsy; amazing run.
  2. Octopus: intelligent; odd; scary
  3. Dogs: loyal; playful; expressive.

Then we were told that – according to this old test – the first represents what we want to be (elegant, clumsy, amazing run), the second how others see us (intelligent, odd, scary) and the third who we really are (loyal, playful, expressive).

I’m fairly sure I’m clumsy already, not sure how scary anyone finds me (but might be wrong) – but was quite happy to ‘really’ be those dog things…



NaPoWriMo 4.24: The Wild Beast Show

(c) Portland Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Wild Beast Show (1932) by Edward Seago

Having just been up to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, I’ve written a couple of ekphrastic poems for today and yesterday…

For #24, I wrote something based on The Wild Beast Show by Edward Seago – which you can see (most of) above.

It’s caught my eye before and I wonder if it’s something to do with the bright composition, with all those yellows and greens, yet with the mass of caged tigers, climbing on top of one another, across the centre of the frame.

There’s a sense of their movement, their anger, and just how caged they are – while all these people stand and stare at them impassively. (Here’s the thing: this still goes on. Horrendous.)

Anyway – for some reason I was drawn to the idea of someone approaching the cage – which is what I wrote about. It’s quite dark – and something I’ll keep back, tweak and  think about appropriate submissions for…

Why ‘Could Be The Moon’?

Well then: new year, new website. And a new name for my (un)creative writing & facilitating endeavours. But why ‘Could Be The Moon’?

‘Could Be The Moon’ was a label on one of the sculptures, in an exhibition of Robert Filiou, ‘The Institute of Endless Possibilities’, at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. A series of objects were given ‘could be…’ labels and this particular assemblage was given the potential to be the moon…

I already had the ‘Possibilities’ part in my four-word mission statement (Poetry. Performance. Participation. Possibilities.) – and loved Filliou’s take on all art and creativity as process. (Whether ‘bien fait’/well made, ‘mal fait’/poorly made or ‘pas fait’/not made, as above.)

As the Henry Moore Institute put it: “Play and joy occupy crucial roles for Filliou, who believed art making was part of a permanent, universal and endless process deeply embedded in everyday life”.

So here’s to play, joy, and the permanent, universal and endless process in 2015: could be…who knows….(yes, that’s a West Side Story reference).

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.

NaPoWriMo 2.8: Position 7

“The vase is filled with another thousand of these moments.”

Today, I’ve co-written (with my partner Paul Hurley) the second poem of the day, using a technique based on the work of Paul Matthews using questions (the elemental sentence related to Water and communication) and sentences (relating to noun, object and Earth). I’d been ‘gifted’ the name of an artist – photographer, Isabelle Wenzel – on Facebook, to post up a picture by…

So we made an ekphrastic call-and-response poem, using one of Wenzel’s pictures as stimulus. The idea is that one of you writes 4 questions while the other – without seeing – writes 4 statements, then you do the same but writing the other type of sentence. So you have eight of both.

After that, you read them out and listen out for interesting mismatches, dissonances and combinations.

Then you have a tinker and see what comes out – as follows. Sometimes it works better than others, but as a response to a picture it’s quite a fun (and fast) way of creating some writing…


Position 7

(after Isabelle Wenzel)


What time is it?

The vase is filled with another thousand of these moments.

From where did she get that vase?

It is often seen here, baying in the corner of this café.

Is that one piece of fabric?

That floor is a psychedelic million checker-board war zone.

What is her name?

Tangerines all begin this way.

When it is done, what will be left?

It is a painting.

What is the angle of its knees, the degree of curvature in the spine?

There is tension and balance.

Is it staying, laying, roosting, or is it passing through?

The toe nails are painted on the shoes.



If the formatting doesn’t work, then here’s a PDF of the poem…

Position 7


Processing the Bogle – as Ivor Cutler

Ivor Cutler, January 15, 1923 – March 3, 2006.

For a while now I’ve wanted to write and perform something as – channelling, or in tribute to – Ivor Cutler.

I was introduced to him some years ago and love the slowness, darkness and ambient-intensity of a lot of his poetry – and songs. And how inexplicably hilarious (while worrying) they are.

He and poet Phyllis King jointly appeared in the BBC programme ‘King Cutler’  – where silence (not awkward, more wilful and full of potential) played a vital part in every programme. If you can find them online, listen to them (there’s an instruction, more on them shortly).

A friend recently showed me a poem by W D Cocker – The Bogle and the Bour-Tree – which you can read here, on the Scottish Poetry Library website – a favourite of hers.

Having visited the Manchester Art Gallery’s exhibition ‘do it’ 2013 last week (information here) which is now in its 20th year of artists giving instructions, as art. I decided to write a response to The Bogle, as a set of instructions by, or channelling, Ivor Cutler. They instruct what to do to avoid/overcome/’process’ the Bogle.

To read my tribute, you need to imagine yourself into Cutler’s voice – so I suggest having a listen to this, first (and any other poems you find on YouTube). It’s Cutler giving his insight into bread (and) butter.

What a voice! And now you may read my ‘do it’ style homage, with it in mind…I’ll be performing this at Spoken Weird in Halifax tomorrow night, should you be around…


Processing the Bogle

or, A Response to W D Cocker, Written as Instructions by Ivor Cutler


First, wake up, ‘we wean’:  there are more important things to attend to

than your idiot unconscious and dreams about paper-clips.


Go, if you will, down the stairs – avoiding that third one that creaks.

You should fix that. One weekend. You don’t want him to hear.


Now, approach the kitchen – by the way, don’t switch on

those expensive halogen lights. You don’t want him to see you coming.


Approach the cupboard where you keep the tins – perhaps yours is

chrome and modern. That sounds about right, for you.


Now, rummage – right at the back. The vaults. Don’t put the lights on, like I said.

Grab three cans. An all-day-breakfast. Some fetid kidney beans. Whatever.


Don’t look what they are. Just tear off their labels, leaving them plain silver.

Don’t open them. Not yet. The next part is important – and difficult.


Now: juggle the tins. For at least a minute. You may think it silly.

I know you much prefer ‘juggling’ Excel. But the Bogle can tell, from the smell.


Whether you manage to do this without a major insurance claim to self or property,

is up to you. Open each can. Pour their contents out. The un-fresher, the better.


Not just into anything: make it your finest, fanciest dish. You must have one.

When the Bogle is found, it will judge you on the sound.


Now, clad in whatever you are clad in – even if that is nothing, or if you’ve

passed out in that disgusting tie again – go into the murk, to your local Bour-tree.


Do not use Google Maps for this; however much you adore your iPhone 8.

The Bogle disapproves. You will know the tree, when you see it, by the shape.


This is best, by the way, not at dawn, but just before.

The Bogle, it is little known, is crepuscular.


Approach the tree confidently, yet calmly. Treat it like your weekly Wednesday meeting.

Hold the dish outstretched. Now, utter these words under your breath:


I am no wee wean. I have nae dreid.

This offering I put upon the Bogle’s heed.

I am no blin’ and I will no rin,

Beneath this Bour-Tree’s bowers – ever agin’!


Then, deposit the contents of the dish over your head, smash it on the ground

and stamp around the tree three times, repeating the rhyme.


Repeat this process weekly, as a matter of routine

and you’ll find you can enjoy your walk to work once again.

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.



‘Open Air’ – Sound Art on BBC Radio 4 by Christian Marclay

This is part of a series of artist’s sound art interventions on Radio 4, called Open Air.

I happened to hear this when it was on and thought it was wonderful and disconcerting moment of radio. It wasn’t introduced or given explanation, it just launched into a disjointed mash-up of Radio 4 voices.

It’s one of the things that I love about Radio 4: it’s ability to stand back, chop up and laugh at what makes it…Radio 4. Have a listen (even if you don’t usually listen to Radio 4, the oddness and artistry shines through!)