LS13 Anthology and Upcoming Gigs

A quick update also that – GOOD NEWS – I’m going to be one of the poets featured in the LS13 Leeds Writers anthology, about which more information here. It’ll be launched next Friday June 7th as part of the Leeds Big Book End weekend.

Also, I’ll be performing at a couple of upcoming nights:

Firstly at Spoken Weird in Halifax on Thursday June 13th at the Sportsman Pub – full details here. The May event was a real pleasure – a room full of attentive poetry-lovers, sharing their joy in words. Looking forward to doing a fifteen-minute set for the occasion…

And on June 26th I’ll be doing another fifteen-minuter at the Poetry by HEART event at the Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre – hopefully you can click through to more information here.

Looking forward to all of the above and would be lovely to see anyone who fancies it there 🙂

NaPoWriMo 30: Here, Roots Are Not Joined

You fear, you fear her return.

 

IT IS THE END OF NAPOWRIMO. And it really has been marvellous.

I’ve just one poem (apart from that below) I would like to finish today and will have produced over 30 poems throughout April. It’s been a very positive experience: keeping poetry with me all the time; being exposed to new forms and stimuli; and discovering many talented creative-cousins out there.

So, the final piece was to create a poem of ‘inversion’: to find a poem you like and then to invert each word until you end with an interesting mirror-image of the original piece.

See if you can guess the original, from this sinister/sad-sounding one…I really did go as literally opposite as possible, although some words (and ideas) are pesky in not being binary (or not appearing so) and having an opposite. So there’s a bit of flex in my ‘opposites’.

The only clue I’ll give is that ‘here’ in my poem, was ‘there’ in the original…And the title is not literally an inversion, but an inversion of the original meaning (in a native language) of the original’s title!

Confused? Read on…

 

Here, Roots Are Not Joined

 

Tomorrow morn, beneath this floor

You shunned this woman, she who is here –

She is here tomorrow, once again:

You fear, you fear her return.

 

If you go, at nine in the morn, tomorrow

This woman will be left, by you, here.

So, if you are blind, beneath this stair

You could imagine her here.

Come here, come here, I will leave ever more.

Come here, come here, but open the door (whoosh!).

 

Tomorrow morn, I will feel beneath this floor

That the giant woman is here.

She is here tomorrow, once again:

Ah, why do you fear her coming?

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….

NaPoWriMo 26: Stories and/or Plans and/or Ideas

This became the nickname for my Mum, so my step-dad made her an actual Mothership logo - AWESOIME.

This became the nickname for my Mum, so my step-dad made her an actual Mothership logo – AWESOIME.

 

Here’s my Day 26 offering, from Jo Bell’s lovely prompt to write a sonnet (or something sonnet-like) about your parents, distributing the lines across your Mum (ABABCD on Sandy, then), then your Dad (CDEFEF on Jeremy, then) and finally, you – for the last couplet (GG on me, then).

It was a fairly quick effort – been a busy day at work! But I managed to keep to the structure – and I hope made it a positive and celebratory piece, to contrast with yesterday’s Picnic Ballad.

I hope you enjoy it and get some insight into both of my parents – and consequently, about me. (And if either of them is reading this, I hope none of it seems unjust or unkind 😉 )

 

Stories and/or Ideas and/or Plans

 

The Mothership: an endless story told

like growing hair heroic silver-grey

and given to the air. She does enfold

each waif and stray; narrates each passing day

 

in technicolour. Even through dark acts

her voice can send out parcels to lost hands.

And he, a voice of malleable facts,

whose mind is full of ideas and/or plans

 

or more the first, or half of the latter.

So given to the earth, so given to

burying in objects and a smatter-

ing of  blushed-untolds, or prides never-knew.

 

And I: am I story, plan, or idea?

I am all three: part told, unfurling, here.

NaPoWriMo 20: Rising Suns

Piss-en-lit! Taraxacum!

Yesterday’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to use a prescribed list of words and include 5 or more in a poem. Jo Bell’s prompt was to write about something that was growing. So I did both: PROMPT-JAM. Yeah.

As I walked near where I live yesterday, I noticed a patch of grass with lots of dandelions on it – and I was thinking about John Donne and his poem Sun Rising. There was an Afternoon Drama about him on last week – The Flea (which was  wonderful: a great rendering of some of the poems and a great dramatisation of that moment where he met his young wife – you can listen to it here for the next couple of days and I recommend you to!).

So this poem’s a response to Sun Rising with a slightly different cosmology in mind – using that wonderful line ‘nothing else is’ as a starting point.

And, of course, sneaking in lots of those pesky words from the NaPoWriMo list*.

 

Rising Suns

or, What About Everything Else?

 

If nothing else is, then what is this? Oh

bilious soil, gerrymandering generator

of dunderheaded dandelions. Lying

on this lawn’s gutter

trying to be stars.

 

Piss-en-lit! Taraxacum!

You are the cowbird’s feed –

no more than seaweed

on this ocean green.

 

Do they not know the Sun

is non-pareil? Cyclops Sky,

look the other way from

earth’s rodomontade! Its

jagged leaf-curls, its petal-sways

firing a gaudy artillery

of interstellar rays.

 

For there is no centre,

not in you, not in me:

only endless circles,

miraculous spheres;

svelte self-similarity,

and ego’s ghostly tears.

 

*Words included (some slightly altered in form! Is that allowed?) from NaPoWriMo’s prompt:


generator
miraculous
dunderhead
cyclops
seaweed
gutter
non-pareil (having no equal)
artillery
curl
ego
rodomontade
twice
ghost
cowbird
svelte

NaPoWriMo 18: Me or Him, Even

Even?

A really quick one today, from both Jo Bell’s prompt (write about something you feel guilty for) and the NaPoWriMo prompt, to start with the same word as you finish with.

So I’ve done both – about a time at school which stays with me, when I pushed someone (after an embarrassing incident) who then fell off a table, on to a chair, tipped back and got concussion.

To this day, I still don’t know if I meant that to happen, or just to get them to shut up. Either way, the outcome was the same.

I was also thinking about third-person and about balancing one’s idea of self now and then, I guess. So here’s a poem of guilt (and/or embarrassment, and/or shame) about that incident – which starts and finishes with the word ‘Even’:

 

Me or Him, Even

or, Exchange Rate

 

Even now, he sees himself, in poet-first

third-person, pushing another

off a desk. Then the word

Concussion. The phrase

Get a teacher.

 

Did he mean it? He still doesn’t know.

Or where the memory should go.

There are several places –

guilt, embarrassment, shame –

three different addresses on the same

street: a whole neighbourhood

of doubt.

 

The victim sits on a table, pointing, laughing

at my basketball-bruised red face

(from his moments-ago powerful throw).

Then the shut-up-shove and there he goes,

dropping into a chair. It pivots – over-

balances, like teachers (like me) warn they will –

out-of-control, back, against the wall.

He was surely culpable, vengeful.

 

Then the changing rooms chants

when he was off school. Being named

Murderer.  He was surely shamed.

 

But what’s the difference

what box I put it in? Even now

I do not know what makes

intention and action,

me and him,

even.

NaPoWriMo 17: Google Search Suggestions on the Day of Thatcher’s Funeral

Indeed she is not. At least we all have death in common though, eh?

Off-prompt today, but will be writing a Blessing (after Jo Bell’s prompt) and a Welcome Poem (from NaPoWriMo’s prompt) for a thing I’m doing at Hyde Park Picture House next Sunday. Neither seemed quite right today…

For there was a little funeral, as you may have noticed or heard about (I did not want to bless Thatcher’s life or passing, nor welcome the funeral, really – I’m saving those for something else).

So I asked Google to write me a poem about it – taking the list of phrases it suggested after the beginnings of statements I put in, then giving it a title (well, two – like I always do). A kind of found techno-list poem. And the following is what Google wrote (with little or no editing – go do it yourself and check!)…

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of the late-Iron Lady’s politics, but I really didn’t edit this very much – but did ‘curate’ it – so of course I wouldn’t have gone for things that sounded too celebratory. There is little that is ‘neutral’. But I guess the title and search phrases (a bit e e cummings?) were just an experiment in seeing what kind of liturgy the internet would turn up.

Actually, I was pleased it ended on our commonality in death. As a Buddhist teacher friend of mine says about, well, many things: “She who has the most __________ [insert anything here], still dies.”

 

 

Google Search Suggestions on the Day of Thatcher’s Funeral

or, How Much / She Brought / What Were / Now / Tomorrow

 

How much

How much does a funeral cost

How much is my car worth

How much is child benefit

 

She brought

She brought me food

She brought the house down

She bought it

 

What were

What were the crusades

What were the jim crow laws

What were the nuremberg laws

What were the symptoms of the black death

What were they like

 

Now

Now we

Now we are free

Now we know

Now we comply

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow we

Tomorrow we sail

Tomorrow we ride

Tomorrow we work

Tomorrow we die

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 12: Want/Need

A magick key (for an inadvertently key-shaped poem)

 

A quick one this: I don’t often get slushy and when I do, it tends to be short! And this is very much in that vein.

The prompt for the 12th was to write a list of things you would want to say but would never (thereby, of course, saying them) – so this started from there and became a brief love poem of things unsaid:

 

Want/Need

or, Doors/Keys

 

I want to say

I didn’t know that before

you, I didn’t realise

there was so much

I didn’t know that

I thought

I couldn’t do. But

you,

you and me,

both glass doors,

both lost keys:

you don’t need

to hear it.

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 tales) from 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.