Moving Images 2: Sonic

“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…

Sonic

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:

Loading…

Advertisements

Moving Images 1: Fokus

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:

Quit

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
smoking 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!

Ride the Lights, 26th March

image

Ride the Lights

On Wednesday 26th April, Paul Hurley and I will be running a creative cycling expedition from The Hepworth, Wakefield, called Ride the Lights.

The event is the third cycling-arts event Paul and I have led, after CycloGeographic in 2010 for SusTrans in Caerphilly (to celebrate the opening of a new National Cycling Network route) and then a Situationists Vs Romantics CycloGeo expedition for Juliana’s Bike in Leeds last year.

We’ll be exploring themes of light, and the play between fact and fiction for the Hepworth event, inviting riders to explore the cinematic fragments and moments of Wakefield at night – inspired by the current exhibition by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. There will be intrigue, inspiration and a fair amount of light-up items.

You can book a place on the ride here. We hope to see you and your bike there…

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 22: Generic Blessings

Temple Newsam House, with its blessing around the roof-line

Temple Newsam House, with its blessing around the roof-line

Catching up with some NaPoWriMo prompts: determined to have at least 30 by the end of the month – TOMORROW!

So here’s one from earlier in the month – there might be more of it to come, but thought I’d put it up as work in progress.

This one’s based on the blessing which runs around the top of Temple Newsam House, just outside Leeds. The idea was to create some ‘Genre Blessings’ (hence the title) for the Hyde Park Picture House event on Sunday – as an alternative blessing – but I couldn’t come up with more than two!

So the poem is the original blessing from the top of the house, with two other genres represented: horror and period drama. Perhaps I’ll add a sci-fi and western at some point…Perhaps…

 

ALL GLORY

or, Generic Blessings

 

ALL GLORY BE GIVEN

TO GOD, THE FATHER, HIS SON

AND THE HOLY GHOST ON HIGH.

PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.

HONOUR TRUE ALLEGIENCE TO OUR GRACIOUS KING.

LOVING AFFECTION AMONGST HIS SUBJECTS.

HEALTH AND PLENTY WITHIN THIS HOUSE.

 

ALL GORY BE RIVEN

BY GHOULS, THE FANGED, ROSEMARY’S BABY

AND THE GHOSTS IN THE CORNER OF YOUR EYE.

FEAR ON EARTH AND GOOD KILLS AMONG MEN.

HONOUR GRIM ALLEGIENCE TO STEPHEN KING.

ROVING STARVATION AMONGST ZOMBIES.

STEALTHY DEPRAVITY IN EACH DESERTED SHACK.

 

ALL CORSETS BE FASTENED

BY GIRLS, STRICT FATHERS, THEIR SONS

AND THE GHOST OF THE ONES THEY SHOULD MARRY.

GENTLE MIRTH AND GOOD SUITS UPON MEN.

HONOUR THE NOVEL BUT ADD SOME THINGS IN.

STIFLED AFFECTION: AS LEWD AS IT GETS.

EMBROIDERY AND MOANING, IN EACH STATELY HOME.

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 9: “I’m the plot, babe, and don’t you forget it”

Smoky big-haired replicant femme-fatale from the future!

Still catching up, so here’s my Noir poem for day 9.

I actually found an IMDB list of the Top 100 Film Noir and then created a poem using only (mostly, give or take a few joining words) their titles – so it’s a found poem which, because of the diction of Noir titles, feels very noir-ish, of course.

AND, as I failed to write a cinquain for day 5 (I went ‘off-piste’ that day), I’ve written it in three cinquain-ish stanzas! Take that, NaPoWriMo: defecit catch-up prompt-fusion!

Sifting through the Noir titles, it strikes you how fearful they sound of the feminine, of male-female romance: so the poem ends up being a little bit about that femme fatale figure.

Although on the other hand, as Margaret Atwood wrote in Unpopular Gals (a first-person story on behalf of ‘wicked women’ in fairy talesfrom the collection Good Bones and Simple Murders: “I’m the plot, babe, and don’t you forget it.”

 

Killer’s Kiss

 

Pickup

on South Street, caught,

now in a lonely place:

the desperate hours are a stray dog,

Laura.

 

This gun

(raw deal) for hire:

a nightmare alley is

the narrow margin’s kiss of death,

Gilda.

 

Your scar-

face: kiss me dead-

ly, boomerang wrong-man.

I, the woman in the window,

confess.

The Trailer Tent

Greetings,

Something a bit different!

I recently wrote some stream-of-consciousness reviews of film promos for The Leeds Debacle magazine.

(You can find the mag on Facebook here and on Twitter as @theleedsdebacle here.)

My feature is called The Trailer Tent – you can read it here (on p 18-19) and it’ll be out in print next week, so keep an eye out Loiners!

Hope you enjoy my very flippant responses to Hollywood’s hype machine…

Little Shadows

How a bee might see a flower – except, not really, because they *smell shapes* (kind of).

I’m brewing a project – a series  of workshops and performances – around BEES (I always feel I have to capitalise it) for this summer, called BUZZ WORDS (I credit thanks to Mr Ian Billings for assistance with the title).

So, with that in mind I’ve been looking out for bee-related stories, inspiration and reading – and tweeting bee-related excerpts from poems too. (They should show up on my Twitter-widget, bottom right).

One such story was this – the amazing symbiosis and (literally) electrical relationship between flowers and bees: plants can ‘communicate’ with bees how much pollen they have ‘in stock’, by changing their electrical field (excuse my usual mangling of scientific language). But the weird thing is that, from other reading I’m doing, bees don’t see in the same way we do at all – and nor can we really understand their ‘plastic sense of smell’, where – get this – shapes have fragrances. All very synaesthetic, which lends itself hugely to poetry, I reckon…

There’s an inherent impossibility trying to perceive as another animal might – but for me, that’s part of poetry’s job. To enjoy the plasticity of language and our imaginative faculties – which are, to a large extent, uniquely human. So this poem was trying to point towards what ‘being a bee’ might be like, but on human terms. (We don’t have any others, do we?)

The title takes its name from a terribly courtly and gorgeous song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (the acoustic version) – so do have a listen (after reading). Just as flowers and bees have a symbiotic relationship, so do bees and humans – but who ends up the ‘shadow’ is still unclear. Hence the conclusion of the poem, perhaps: certainty is always plastic, being is always relative.

 

Little Shadows

 

Imagine that montage moment in the film

noir, where the PI  ranges the city streets,

neon lights lurid and rain-streaked and longing:

thinking thinking thinking about

what it is he doesn’t

yet know.  See it?

 

Imagine that, but now see it POV

and at nine-thousand times multiplicity

and instead of a He, you’re a She and you’re

flying flying flying about

at roof height, just knowing

knowing. OK?

 

Imagine that cutaway shot of a sign

which in the film says

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

all luminous-pink curving

tonguelike, now says:

ASTER X FRIKARTII.

 

That louche flashing purple

PRIVATE SHOW, now reads: SALVIA

NEMEROSA CARADONNA. Yeah?

 

And that raunchy Latin text becomes

a shape that bypasses your eyes

nine-thousand times and becomes the aroma

of everything – literally everything –

you have every wanted

or known. Right?

 

Imagine those nine-thousand

cutaway shots above a bar

of endlessly-pouring holy beer

have become a pendulum, pulling

your entire being with the breeze

of its transcendental scent,

the gravity of its colour. Yes.

 

And imagine that there’s no mystery,

only endless little shadows of yourself shining,

weaving through every single city street,

drinking drinking drinking in

the plastic certainty

of being.