Swindon, Aldeburgh, Resources

Swindon Collage

Surreal objets, masks, The Tent Palace of the Delicious Air, Roy McFarlane performing, and the Poets’ Umbrellas.

Just back from the Big Poetry Weekend in Swindon: such a warm, cosy, collaborative and connective happening. It was my first one and I was struck by how the scale of it and the location made it incredibly rich: a smaller collective, engaging deeply with the work and each other, in the Tent Palace of the Delicious Air (a small marquee) in the garden of the Richard Jeffries Museum.

My highlights were: working on voices and masks with Fiona Benson (and her powerful, intense reading); Hilda Sheehan’s workshop on (a hungover) Sunday; the richness and quality of the open mic sessions; re-engaging and feeling energised about filmpoetry, and Nuar Alsadir‘s incredibly inspiring talk and reading – which really fired me up again about experimental, intuitive, interdisciplinary poetry.


I’m delighted to be running a session on Queering Ecopoetry at Poetry in Aldeburgh next month. This is an area I’ve been researching, reading and writing around since summer and it’s been extremely creatively rich. I’ll have poems, activities and critical quotes to share. It’ll be playful, interactive and – I hope – fabulously illuminating. British ecopoetry is, I think, overdue a good queering.

Here’s a video of some Nu-Rave eye-tentacled ‘zombie snails’ (famous from social media lately) to get you excited by the gloriously monstrous, colourful, permeable and interdepedent aspects of that lovely, pure ‘nature’ out there 🙂


Resources and Articles:

Over the last year, I’ve worked on a number of resources, some of which are out in the world and others currently in development. Here’s a run-down (I’ve been busy!):

  • A commission from the Poetry Society, here’s some inspiration for the National Poetry Competition, a resource based on two of my favourite past winners
  • Our Max Literacy ‘Talking Pictures’ resource will be available soon, through their website here – it’ll give a range of activities for primary age writers to engage with an art gallery and stage their own ‘living gallery
  • In collaboration with the Bristol Museums Service, I’ve also worked on a redesigned Arts Award booklet – which will enable young writers to achieve their Discover level award through writing about artwork in any gallery. More info on their Arts Award programme, here.
  • With a different museum collaborator, I was part of a team who developed the ArtBox, a resource for people living with dementia and their carers to engage with St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, a loaned painting on display in the City Museum & Art Gallery. This evolved from some Creative Cafe sessions I’d hosted there and the outputs of other creative sessions. The finished ArtBox is a thing of great beauty, with a poem around the lid I wrote from words from the sessions, as well as a magnetic poetry set inspired by the painting and our groups’ responses to it.
  • Over winter, I worked on an LGBT+ creative writing resource for First Story – this is in the pipeline and I’ll add a link next year in time for LGBT History Month in February
  • Finally, I’ve written an article on Resilience for freelance writers (a subject, of course, close to my heart!) which will be in an upcoming National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) journal.

It’s great that so many of the projects I’ve worked on, from First Story to the Museum work, is translating into resources which I hope will support others’ creativity. More on the upcoming resources once they’re ready!

I’ll do another Queer Ecopoetry update after my session in Aldeburgh, this time next month.

 

NaPoWriMo 4.25: La Belle Dame…

dicksee1

La Belle Dame Sans Merci
by Frank Dicksee

And so I’m up to date, with two ekphrastic poems

This second one inspired by the above painting, itself inspired by this Keats poem of the same name, which means, ‘The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy’.

My poem is entitled The Beautiful Lady With or, Horrid Warning – and allows the lady without mercy her right to reply. She doesn’t mess about.

(I’m afraid I keeping this one too as it’s bawdy and fun, so should be sent out to appropriately-bawdy competitions/journals.)

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…