NaPoWriMo 16: Emancipation on Briggate

Fortunately, the wheelie bin I saw on the move this morning off Briggate was not air-borne (just ground-borne – can something be ‘ground-borne’? I suppose earthworms and moles are…)

Hello NaPoWriMo-ers!

I’m looking forward to trying the prompt later and gobbledegook-ing some poetry not-in-translation…

But a silly moment produced a silly poem this morning, so here it is:

 

Emancipation on Briggate

or, The Wind Creates a Performance Action around the Theme of Waste

 

In a narrow shopping alley, I witnessed earlier today

A brave wee wheelie-bin, just scampering away:

Quoth the receptacle, gambolling across the floor,

“I shall be free of your rubbish forevermore!”

 

(But alas, just moments later, an overall ensnared the bin.

The moral: nevermore waste a second of freedom – ever, ever again.)

NaPoWriMo 15: Transaction on a Spring Day – A Pantum

The OWL (Observation Wheel Leeds) at night – which is the ‘great revolving wheel’ in the poem…

 

Today’s prompt: a Malay verse-form “of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection” (to quote the NaPoWriMo site).

I am not sure if it follows the rules fully – but I tried! Might put another one up later/tomorrow too…

AND (in the style of ANTI-BOTNET) I HAVE NOW CAUGHT-UP FROM BEING FOUR DAYS BEHIND!

 

Transaction on a Spring Day

 

I push the DVDs across the till,

Exchanging our feelings about the stories;

Above the skyline, a great revolving wheel

Magnifies the sky-screen’s bright-blue glories.

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 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.

NaPoWriMo 3: A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development

Prompt no. 3 of NaPoWriMo was to write a sea shanty. This pleased me greatly as I’m a part of (when I can make it!) the Ocean Loiners – a sea shanty singing group in Leeds (hence the name: Leeds folk are known as ‘Loiners’)…

Here’s a video of us belting out ‘Three Jolly Fishermen’ at the Theatre By the Lake in Bradford in October last year. (I am the lanky one in the blue t-shirt in case you’re wondering!)

I’ve turned my attention to the place where I live as the subject for my shanty – as I live on a floating home (a narrowboat), so shanties feel like (spuriously) part of my sailor heritage. This is a song about how places like the one on which I live don’t always pan out as hoped for! Technically, I suppose this should be an Inland Waterway Shanty…

And, as an experiment, I made up an extremely derivative tune and then SANG it, into my phone via SoundCloud – shanties are meant to be sung! Hopefully you can listen to the whole thing above and not be turned deaf / mad / made to unsubscribe from the blog in disgust…

So you can sing along, if you like:

 

A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development

 

In the Early Noughties, ‘pon the booming swell,

It was BUY BUY BUY, it was SELL SELL SELL:

So they built above the water of Clarence Dock

Luxury apartments and fancy shops.

 

(CHORUS)

Oh the Dock, she be in a right old mess,

With her Pizza Express and her Tesco Express

And her – yes – her Holiday-Inn Express:

They’re the only things fast enough to float,

Except for curry houses and narrow boats.

 

And they built a special section with its own jetty

Where the fancy floating restaurants would be:

Now the only thing a-moored around the butts of fags

Are the blue-striped plastic carrier bags.

 

Sometimes in the night you can hear the hullaballoo

Of some merry-making drunks (who are only passing through).

But the only voices bouncing off the moored ships’ hulls

Are the quacking ducks’ and the screeching gulls’.

 

Now in an empty window of an old high-fashion store

There’s a hopeful artist’s image of what could have come before.

And like the ocean’s waves, there’s one thing that you can trust:

Is that after there’s a boom, there will always be a bust.

 

 

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…

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…

Wicked Words

I took part in the Wicked Words open mic event last night at 7 Arts in Chapel Allerton. What a splendid night – some awesome poetry about cauliflowers, grandparental love and something about dolphins on sandwich packets. All in an evening’s course for live literature, it is so energising to see.

And an unexpected appearance and performance by Lemn Sissey. I and other open mic performers were on after him, it turned out – and he is a pretty awesome stage presence. Quite an honour really and great to see how poetry and writing “hierarchies” can be flattened so easily and joyously.

Looks like I will be doing some Vermin Cycle for them at the next event in March as a support act – more to follow!

http://www.sevenleeds.co.uk/clients/sevenarts/MODULES/DIARY/DIARYMOD_item.asp?itemid=345