NaPoWriMo 2.16: Pet Shop Boy

“She’s the actual one, you know, who hooted through the hall of Hogwarts. In the film. Really.”

Up to Wednesday! The prompt/challenge was to write a ten line poem in which every line is a lie.

Here’s my poem, which seems to be part of the same ‘range’ of weird shopkeepers as last year’s The Pies of Awareness (a sinister existential baker) or this year’s A Charm Against Losing It As Spoken by Debonair Metapharmasista Crisby LeFross (who is, as it sounds, an eccentric pharmacist with a twist).

In fact, these may become a pamphlet of first-person poems by a whole high street-full of oddities…Hmm…

 

Conservation

or Pet Shop Boy

 

She’s the actual one, you know, who hooted through the hall of Hogwarts. In the film. Really.

Not so active now. They’re nocturnal. What? Yes, in real life the eyes seem much more…shiny.

 

Peer in here – they’re such low-maintenance pets, clamped to the branches with their camo legs.

What’s that? You could say so. Yes, very similar. But they’re not, though. No. Not clothes pegs.

 

How about some drama from far-off Siam (that’s Thailand now). Look! A bit of one just fell off!

I know it’s not usual to keep several together. Or that they’re gold. No, the fins just look like J-Cloth.

 

You’ll barely lift a finger for this little fellow. Underneath that branch…So still, so calm. The gecko.

Yes, I have been in the toyshop next door. But this, this is your actual toy – I mean pet! Pet dinosaur.

 

Budgies: so bright! Like highlighters. Hmm. Pigeon-size? Err. Don’t touch! Oh…green, pink or blue?

No? I’ve so enjoyed our conversation. A key-ring? Every penny goes towards my conservation.

 

 

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NaPoWriMo 2.1: Eat Chips

“Ten trillion flies can’t be wrong…”

**WARNING**

Parental Guidance – (Mildly) Explicit Lyrics

 

So it begins. And I do enjoy the challenge of NaPoWriMo – it’s amazing what you can generate when you sit down for half an hour and actually focus…

Today’s first prompt from NaPoWriMo is to write in response to a randomly-generated quote from the Bibliomancy Oracle – which is a fine and useful resource. Here’s what the Oracle returned for me to work with and what I did with it.

So as per my warning – it was poet Bruce Andrews who swore, not me, Guv…

 

Eat Chips: Voice Over for a Culinary Tourist Film

 

“Ten trillion flies can’t be wrong: Eat Shit.”

– from ‘Seven Poems’ by Bruce Andrews

 

Or failing that, why not come to sunny Hudders

where rather than eating shit, you could eat chips instead.

 

Here, there is no need to fear or ever be very afraid

for long ago was laid in the streets between the wounded

mills, the industrious larvae of the potato.

 

These days, you see, such as flies are we

to the Chippy: their homely tabbards

invite us to the counter

– glinting, silver, sleek –

into this slick of chips.

Here’s tea.

 

Behold your wriggling chips:

chips that crawl from the fryer’s

mouth, chips that whisper trans-

lucence through thinning paper. Chips that,

like copious ketchup sweet, squeeze

the days from your

pavemented

arteries.

Buzz Words and the Bee Ceilidh at Green Man

Buzz Words and the Bee Ceilidh at Green Man

I’m very excited about Green Man, Einstein’s Garden where I’ll be running my Buzz Words workshops on Friday at 11am and Saturday at 10.30, as well as hosting the BEE CEILIDH on Sunday afternoon at 4pm on the Solar Stage…

See you there for some apian antics.

Pirates

Image

Last Saturday, I went on a workshop with the Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, about whom you can read more here.

We spent some time talking about detail – using specific canal-furniture names (boats, bridges, places) in writing – and then moved on to ‘becoming’ various combinations of watery figures. Myself and another writer became a poet and a jogger – both of whom were horrible people. But hey – they’re often more fun to write as (maybe).

Another boat-related idea had been flitting around in my head, which I’ve just had another go at. Having not been sure how to approach the topic, I epiphed (all over the place) on the way home. 

It was some speed-writing (thanks Natalie Goldberg, for the encouragement – from a book nearly as old as me – ‘Writing Down the Bones’) generated an image – so I went with it…

 

Pirates

 

My friend, like so many,

fears them intensely,

so when she asks me,

a glimmer of hope:

“Are you safe from them

on boats?” I’m obliged to say

No.

 

For never before have I existed

so closely alongside them. Shipmates.

Brushing my teeth in the morning, in the

lower-right corner of the window,

in one swings with a toothless grin –

its rope dewed with the white

frothy grog that is splashed

from my chin.

 

Attracted by the dusky glint

of our black-gold chimneys,

they hoist ragged sails there which –

gaping in the trading winds –

display the body-parts of victims.

 

At night, they are not as sociable as

popular images would have us think.

Don’t gather together to eat or drink

their pillaged bounty; engage in a customary

YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Instead,

they loiter under gunwhales,

bristle between the welds of steel,

biding their dark-clad time. (Though

on the vacant ship next-moor

they’ve moved in – squatting – on a riot

of their crystalline rigging.)

 

So my friend says, “Oh Gina G!

I had thought you might be safe at sea.”

But no, for ours is the realm of the

Pirate: their map and their maws;

their plots and their prey;

their own many-cutlassed laws.

The Bee-Spell of Shakespeare Primary School

A collective poem of new collective nouns...

Here is a collected list poem or “spell” from students’ work today – coming up with new collective nouns for (Latin-name) species of British bee (which we spoke about as spells, like in Harry Potter…).

It has been an exhausting, but seemingly quite successful, day of workshops and waggle dances!

Hopefully the Buzz Words over the summer will get better and better.

 

And here is a ‘tweaked’ version of the poem, with a little stanza at the end to seal the spell…

 

The Bee-Spell of Shakespeare Primary

 

Oh River of Anthidium manicatum.

Oh Ruby of Andrena agilissima.

Oh Christmas of Bombus ruderarius.

Oh Cheesy Sweet of Osmia bicolor.

Oh Alien Grass of Bombus bohemicus.

Oh Seasoning of Hoplitis spinulosa.

Oh Rainbow Sea-Creature of Bombus lapidarius.

Oh Circle-Bubblegum of Lasioglossum malachurum.

Oh Salad of Apis mellifera.

Oh Heaven of Xylocopa violacea…

 

May you find sanctuary in our naming,

This Latin spell grant peaceful lives:

A flawless, diamond song exclaiming

From every burrow, every hive.

 

by The Students of Shakespeare Primary School

(with Caleb Parkin)

Pesticide makes bees forget the scent for food, new study finds

http://m.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/27/pesticide-bees-scent-food-neocotinoid Just after my piece about how bees see and smell – their ‘plastic’ sense of shapes becoming scents – I was sent this story. So perhaps pesticides are changing the shapes of scents to them: my film noir PI cross-cutting image may be more apt than I realised. It is a sad thought, a hives workers stumbling around drunkenly, seeking what they have for millions (or more?) of years, but unable to sense its real shape.

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.

 

Wicked Words review

A review! Thanks Martin – glad you enjoyed the cockroach and its epic fishing-rod antennae: they were pound shop’s finest, sewn into a hoodie-hood 😛

Skylab in Full Flight indeed…

The write identity...

I was at Wicked Words’ quarterly Showcase Event this Wednesday, an evening that demonstrated what a rich tapestry the world of performance poetry can be. The entertainment kicked off with Jamie H Scrutton, an established Wicked Words poet whose pièce de resistance involves donning a bright pink wig and black Belvia bra (stuffed with what looked like tin-foil), whilst cavorting about the stage belting out poetry about the said bra’s magical powers of transformation in the wearer.

Jamie was swiftly followed by Skylab (aka Caleb Parkin) who had debuted at Wicked Words only the previous month. Nothing on that evening could possibly have hinted at the majesty of Skylab in full flight. Taking to the stage in a white decontamination suit, and with the aid of some ingenious headgear, Skylab took on variously the personae of rat, urban fox and – best of the lot in my opinion –…

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