NaPoWriMo 29: Excerpts from a Report on the New Poem Aquarium

An empty aquarium – shall we fill it with poems? Shall we?

So yes, it being the end of NaPoWriMo, I’m going quite deranged and using increasing amounts (and oddities) of Found or – in this instance what I’m calling ‘Poached Poetry’. (Poached in the sense of hunted and stolen, or I guess it could be poached in the egg-sense.)

This has reached new and ridiculous heights (or depths) today: I have just watched a news report about a new Chinese visitor attraction and written bits of it out as a poem, giving the attraction a new title.

To retain the (very tiny amount of) enigma, I will only post the link to the original news report at a later time…

What do you think the report was actually about?

Don’t throw a wobbly trying to figure it out.

 

A Poached Poem

or, Excerpts from a Report on the New Poem Aquarium

 

…Psychedelic, otherworldly, primordial:

visitors can now get up-close and personal

with the creatures, albeit from a safe

distance. Even the more dangerous species

are a sight to behold…

 

…Some have quite long tentacles and,

as a result, they look quite graceful

when swimming…

 

…More than 3000 are on show,

dozens of species

in eleven tanks

some weigh more than

twenty tonnes…

 

…The museum says it is not easy

to keep the deep-sea dwellers

in captivity. They’re poor swimmers –

a special circulatory system

is required, just to keep them

afloat….

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NaPoWriMo 11: Double-Duvet Mecca

A pair of washers at a washeteria

Day 11’s prompt was to write a Tanka (five-line stanzas with 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) – so I’ve used the form to bring an autobiographical poem into being.

I had this idea a little while ago: as my partner and I live on a narrowboat, we don’t have a full-size washing machine and either use a little twin-tub (which can be labour-intensive) – or visit a laundrette. On our travels up here to Leeds from Bristol via the inland waterways (see Inland Odyssey posts!), we used various laundrettes  (including my favourite, the ‘Washeteria’ (a delightfully old-school term), which was still pleasingly 1950s/1960s in its layout and appliances, but worked perfectly).

Laundrettes, or Washeterias, can be a really pleasant experience I think – the urban equivalent of gathering at the water’s edge to wash clothes in the river: there’s something connective about it – human, cleansing.

So this poem is about the laundrette (the place and the person) we use in Leeds – and about connecting across difference, in this ‘urban riverside’.

 

Double-Duvet Mecca

or, Paired Socks

 

We fold its cover

together: a courtly dance.

I go to give thanks,

but behind his warm machines

the laundrette prays to Mecca.

 

A service wash bought:

I call you ‘the other one’,

dodging a term. But

he smiles, his warmth bestowing

a Universe of paired socks.

Card-board Word-hoard: Sunday 17th March

Sunday, 2pm at Melbourne Street Studios, Leeds

Sunday, 2pm at Melbourne Street Studios, Leeds.
YOU SHOULD COME. IT WILL BE FUN AND MESSY.
Bring: glue sticks, scissors, old newspapers and packaging (clean not skanky!).

On Sunday 17th March at 2pm, I’ll be running a workshop at 2pm at Melbourne Street Studios (Melbourne St, Leeds – address here) as part of The Fabulous Recycling and Discourse on the Environment Exhibition (about which, more information here) working with old newspapers and packaging to create found (and concrete) poems.

The exhibition is by artists Donna Bramall and Rachel Hinds – the exhibition aims to show their “individual responses to the realities of how the waste created by society effects the environment we live in”.

Whether you’re an experienced writer or have never written a poem before, it’s a great way of working with form and enjoying words for their sound, as objects and in their arbitrary (but often intriguing and beautiful) collisions with other words. That’s the fun of found poetry of this kind: you choose the words ‘off-the-shelf’, someone has already written them down – you’re collecting, curating and creating with them. And whatever the self reveals, even through ‘randomness’, still reveals the self – the theory goes.

You can lay them out in interesting and peculiar ways, in shapes and with images – along the lines of Concrete Poetry.

Finally, as an example – here is a found-poem I made working with some students (when teaching):

A found-poem, mainly from Metro headlines!

A found poem, mainly from Metro headlines!

And here’s the poem typed out:

 

Summon The Urban Future…

 

…naturally adaptive,

the sirens tumble

unsupported patterns.

 

Now meet the Ultimate

30-month low you’ll treasure,

transforming a perfect A-Lister.

 

Buy the £440,000 art cakes

inside the new blue red carpet,

as accidental tech-scents

hit

the flawless box triumphs.

 

 

(My favourite is the ‘accidental tech-scents’ – I would never had come up with that without Metro’s assistance! It’s not often you can say that about poetry…)

 

Hope to see you Sunday for some cut-and-stick fun…