Wyldwood Write On Video

I’ve just finished facilitating four sessions, working with Wyldwood Arts  – a group of 18-25 year olds from the Bristol Old Vic young producers worked with residents of Monica Wills House writing around the themes of Earth, Water, Fire and Air.

There was a lot of laughter and some really beautiful, playful and moving pieces of writing – and Wyldwood have made a wonderful short film which captures some of this. Here it is!

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Writing Between the Lines

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“a transitory and changing constellation of percepts, hunger and muscular flexing” – a quote about the swallow, from Andrew Jeffrey‘s presentation

On Saturday, I went over the Severn to Cardiff Met University – to attend the Writing Between the Lines Symposium, on Creative Writing as Research Methodology with a keynote by Professor Kevin Mills.

Highlights for me were seeing papers by Andrew Jeffrey from Sheffield Hallam Uni – whose work roving around Sheffield to write about animals he encounters was fascinating, and delivered with huge energy and verve – I really enjoyed his energetic approach and his writing. You can see the presentation on his blog here.

I also really enjoyed hearing Megan Hayes‘ model of writing for wellbeing – drawing in aspects of Positive Psychology and ‘grounded theory’. Looking forward to hearing more about this, as it seemed a very thought-through, thoughtful and fresh approach.

And it was great too to meet Richie Copeland, hear about ‘My’ [or rather, ‘His’] Naked Queer Poetics – and discuss marriage Vs civil partnership and heteronormativity, in the loo…

Also, I finally actually met The Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma, with whom I have regular (political and poetical) exchanges on Facebook – but haven’t met in ‘meatspace’ yet. (By the way, you should order her new book The Everyday Poet you know (you’re welcome, Deborah)).

Doubtless there were others worth of mention, but these were the talks and interactions which stayed with me.

Growing Bolder Video

Here’s a short film made by me, about the excellent Growing Bolder project – funded by Bristol Ageing Better – and the performance we did at Avenue House care home (in Redland, Bristol) on 7th July. Enjoy!

There are more examples of videos I’ve made on the Word Rocket YouTube channel here.

And if you’d like me to make a film of your project or event – please get in touch.

NOT TODAY

Last week in my group with Off The Record, we looked at Andrew McMillan’s poem ‘TODAY’ from his great collection Physical (which you should buy too)…

Having read and reflected on it, we then thought about a space we know really well – and let our mind’s eye (‘floating camera’, as it were) loose around the space, writing about it (as McMillan’s poem does) in direct address (‘you’) and future tense (‘you will…’).

I thought I’d share my piece of writing that came from this exercise – it’s fascinating how changing tense and first/second/third person can affect the way one writes.

Perhaps inevitably, echoes of McMillan’s poem entered all the pieces of writing – so this is absolutely an exercise, response, and poem inspired by – and not something I’ll be taking ‘credit’ for as an original approach! (So thanks, Andrew, for the great poem and inspiration.)

NOT TODAY
– after Andrew McMillan

Today, you’ll step from the door
and into some chewing gum
the seagulls will serenade
the pigeons; the weather-
vanes will all point West.

Today you’ll see that all of the bricks
are spelt the same, that everyone’s faces
rhyme.. You’ll regret going to bed
so late, but you’ll do it again.

Today the binmen will curse
the randomness of the Lane, saying
They think glass is plastic and cardboard is clothing
and you’ll drink coffee as the break
lights glare at you.

Today the waiters of the Grand Hotel
will polish cutlery and their wit
the man with gnarly fingers
who collects the bridge toll
will run out of change and meet
his future wife as he seeks 50p’s
at the Crepe Affaire stall.

 

The Pact

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One of the goaty references in my goaty piece…

I put a piece of writing into the View from the Pen event at Windmill Hill City Farm – which (alas) wasn’t selected for performance.

But that’s very much part of the process (and far more go in than ever get selected!) – so I thought I’d post it up here now, as I wrote it during NaPoWriMo but kept it offline until I heard back.

It was written – as I’m sure some really great pieces were – with the goats in mind…There are so many cultural associations for these animals – which I adore – and I’d been to see The Witch a couple of months before (see above), which might have fed into this…

The Pact

[As goats do, the actor is stood with two arms/’front legs’ up on the log, chewing, as goats do…He seems wise, if slightly menacing…]

To say I’m an omnivore – well, that’s underselling the breadth of my pallet. I’ll try anything once – or, most likely, more. I’ve nibbled on jackets and maps and nappies. I’ve chewed on chocolate and charm bracelets and Cheese Strings.

But really – and this why we’re here – I’m your go-to goat for anything you truly need eating. The preferred supplier for the disappearing of difficulties. If you want something gone, something incriminating – then I’m your man (if you will).

Look: often I just chance upon things I fancy trying – a baby’s blanket, an interesting earring – but all I’m saying is…If you were to turn up here with some suspicious paperwork, and the shredder just didn’t seem enough…Well if you were to scratch my back, just at that good spot, then – well, I’ll scratch yours. Figuratively speaking. Poof! No proof. Page vanished. Document not found.

I’m sure you’re used to one of those boring Powerpoint slideshows, but let’s face it: no-one needs another serving of those, and they just don’t work with hooves. So I’m avoiding the papertrail, telling what I’m selling: cheques mashed, letters ghosted, final notices frappéd.

You’ll have to imagine my logo up there [gestures with horns to wall of pen/shed]. I’m not a designer, but it might involve a goaty smile, maybe some horns, some A4-oblong irises – all in a…comforting font. You can imagine a brand-name if you like. I quite like Caprice. Or maybe Docu-goat. But let’s not write it down; we’ll just keep it between us.

You’ll find nobody as thorough, or as discrete. Through these slats, I meet councillors and coaches, journos and jobsworths, lawyers and losers, ministers and madams.

The most they’ll find after is the odd second-hand scrap in the paddock, perhaps a fragment of letterhead – on the most stubborn official documents. Paper is so telling. I really can taste the difference. It’s as many and varied as the words that muddy its flavour. Muddy the truth.

The ones I really savour are from law firms, good ones, and the kinds of accountants who don’t send many letters, stamped exotically, from somewhere [whispered] offshore. The richness of weave really is noticeable. Chewably so.

Often, my clients come with a family – that’s the cover – and while the others are keeping the mother and pushchairs bothered, masticating objects they want to keep, he’ll just push through the envelope and I’ll get to work before anyone notices a thing. Ping!

And I’m not saying it’s only men – far be it for me to be Nanny-ist or Billygoat-bigoted: just as many of your females avail themselves of my fourfold-digestion-and-deletion services. No redaction required. Not once that particular letter, that persistent piece of evidence, that pesky cheque you haven’t cashed yet – not once they’re filed under my paunch.

Amazing, really, in this Digital Age, how much can rest on a single page. So come on then: what brings you here? Pop it through the gate. No-one’s looking. We’ve all got something we’d rather wasn’t in writing…

Visual Verse: Pachycephalosaurus

I’m one of the featured writers this month, on the excellent Visual Verse

You can read my curious poem here – and then submit your own work, inspired by the same image.

It’s a great project to nurture writing inspired by images, something I really enjoy doing and put to use in workshops I run.

(One of the brains behind Visual Verse is also the brain behind The Curved House – which you should check out too: they do wonderful work on visual literacy.)

NaPoWriMo 4.24: The Wild Beast Show

(c) Portland Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Wild Beast Show (1932) by Edward Seago

Having just been up to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, I’ve written a couple of ekphrastic poems for today and yesterday…

For #24, I wrote something based on The Wild Beast Show by Edward Seago – which you can see (most of) above.

It’s caught my eye before and I wonder if it’s something to do with the bright composition, with all those yellows and greens, yet with the mass of caged tigers, climbing on top of one another, across the centre of the frame.

There’s a sense of their movement, their anger, and just how caged they are – while all these people stand and stare at them impassively. (Here’s the thing: this still goes on. Horrendous.)

Anyway – for some reason I was drawn to the idea of someone approaching the cage – which is what I wrote about. It’s quite dark – and something I’ll keep back, tweak and  think about appropriate submissions for…

NaPoWriMo 4.20: An Omission in the City

It appears I’m writing more that I might submit elsewhere this year – which makes for a less interesting blog, but a more hopeful prospect of publication…

I wrote something on Tuesday about a ‘gap’ near me, which I pass every day: it’s a square of brick, with a couple of small trees in, which has – for the year we’ve lived here – also had a ragged chair in one corner, and an unplugged TV in the other.

It’s a very strange image (not unlike an art installation), and one which I think many people will walk past without noticing – but that’s the joy of being a poet/writer: noticing is part of your job…

So I’ve written something about it – which contains the phrase ‘an omission in the city’, which feels somehow significant.

That’s all!

NaPoWriMo 4.16: Nut Milk

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If you’d like an actual, not silly, article about this subject, go here.

Inspired by a rum-punch hangover conversation:

SCRIPT FOR A VERY SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM
ABOUT NUT MILK PRODUCTION

Mid-shot carton on green screen, labelled NUT MILK.

Narrator: Nut Milk. A common everyday product
for many vegans. But just how
is it made and is it humane?

Cut to wide shot, pastures, slow
zoom, accelerating into individual
blades of grass.

Narrator: Here on the Great Pastures
Of Al-mond, the nuts
are farmed.

General Views of nuts
grazing…

Narrator: They are tended
the much smaller
peanuts, specially trained
to herd and milk them.

Cut to outside
macro shot

Narrator: The Dairy…

SFX: Ominous music.

Cutaway of carton pouring
into cereal. Slow zoom
onto flow of white, turn-
ing slowly red.

Narrator: But it’s what happens next
that causes
the controversy…