Tuesday, 29 July 2014

EMILY KRAEMER HOUSE CONCERT

Recently I had the pleasure of hosting a house concert by the wonderfully talented Emily Kraemer. Readers of this blog will know that I have interviewed Emily in the past. 
Emily was joined by her sister Natasha on cello and occasional guitar. They played a varied set drawing on her last three albums. I was especially taken with performance of Sandy Heart
House concerts are such intimate affairs that allow interaction between the artist and the audience. This was the third time we had organised an event and thanks must go to Liz for cooking such wonderful food.


If you are feeling adventurous why not organise your own house concert? All you need is a large enough space to fit the number of people you are inviting and an musician willing to play. I would suggest that you make it clear that you will be passing the hat around and suggest that you set a minimum amount. Good luck and thank you once again Emily and Natasha.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

PAINT STARS ON THE INSIDE OF A TEACUP

A new poem to start with today. A simple poem that explains itself.

Cobwebs trawl from wooden beams,
so I know there are spiders here.
On the wall, a possible meal,
I take in the vital green body,
the prism of the glass wings,
then cup the moth in my hands,
feel it flutter on my palms
and carry it to another room,
where I reason there is more space,
even if as many places for death to lurk.

There was something illogical about moving the moth from one room to another but I had to do it. It seemed the right action. 
Here is another revision of the poem I have been working on recently.

Dream Fragment

At the end of the story she planted a tree,
completing the circle with this tired metaphor.
I can recall the image - just,
radiance from the tree uplights her face,
gypsy caravans to one side,
the good people surround her.
A detailed engraving from a dreambook
is fading now my words have woken.
There is nothing for them to do,
a different reality imprints itself on my brain.


At the end of the story she planted a tree,
then climbed up its branches beyond my imagination.
This was not difficult, she tells the glass magpie who nods.
They will dance a tango over mulberry leaves,
paint stars on the inside of a teacup,
then consult ceolacanths,
for whom water is but an abstract notion.
Hers will be an interesting life.


At the end of the story she planted a tree.
You can see it if you stand on tiptoe
and look through that wall,
it is a strong plant and will outlast my thoughts.
Perhaps it will be an extra in a drama
that is played out in your head.

As you can see I have retitled it, and removed the last stanza. I had been pondering the effect of the final stanza and when I read the poem at a Juncture 25 meeting, that final stanza seemed to hold the poem to earth instead of letting it fly. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Here's Beirut official video for Rip Tide.

Friday, 18 July 2014

THE SECRET IS TO REVISE YOUR WORK

The photographs were taken at this year's 2000 Trees Festival where Juncture 25 went down a storm. I may have mentioned this before, but the secret is to revise and revise your work. It is that simple and that difficult. Here is a revision of the last post's poem:

Nineteen years ago it was different, alive.
The town then was all small shops, half this size, more real, authentic.
She watches the Catalans build a human tower in the square.
A knot of men the base, others will be flying buttresses,
as two women climb to stand on shoulders.

This town confuses, fast roads bisect her memories.
When she finds a place they remember
she embroiders it with significance.
The women have linked arms, the crowd cheers a young boy,
lifted above the press of men, he begins to climb,
to stand aloft, briefly atop this human pyramid.

Can any marriage survive the children leaving home?
The boy has climbed down, is lifted from the first tier,
the crowd's approval echoes around the square.
The once castell is now a confluence of individuals,
she wonders as to her place in the throng.

It is shorter than the last version. I have, with the help of the Secret Poets, reduced it. I think it reads better- what do you think?
Here is another revision.

Waking With Half a Dream in My Head


At the end of the story she planted a tree,
completing the circle with this tired metaphor.
I can recall the image - just,
radiance from the tree uplights her face,
gypsy caravans to one side,
the good people surround her.
A detailed engraving from a dreambook
is fading now my words have woken.
There is nothing for them to do,
a different reality imprints itself on my brain.

At the end of the story she planted a tree,
then climbed up its branches beyond my imagination.
This was not difficult, she tells
the glass magpie who nods.
They will dance a tango over mulberry leaves,
paint stars on the inside of a teacup,
then consult ceolacanths,
for whom water is but an abstract notion.
Hers will be an interesting life.


At the end of the story she planted a tree.
You can see it if you stand on tiptoe
and look through that wall,
it is a strong plant and will outlast my thoughts.
Perhaps it will be an extra in a drama
that is played out in your head.


At the end of the story she planted a tree, 
its absence in the sequel,
was commented on by at least three readers.
It appeared in the movie, an ill conceived affair,
designed to fly on the failing appeal of a tv actor 
whose voice was breaking.
The trilogy was squeezed into ninety minutes, 
and the lack of finance showed.

This is a less radical reworking. What do you make of them?
I leave you with Charlie Haden at his peak. I was saddened to hear that he had passed away this week. This is For a Free Portugal.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

CASTELL

I was recently in Catalonya and was lucky enough to watch a Castell team demonstrate their skill at making a human tower. It is an impressive sight and one that is truly Catalan in nature. It took place in Vic

While I stood watching this an idea for a poem arose from where ever it is poems lurk. It arrived mostly formed and I have been revising it for a little while. As yet it has no title.

Nineteen years ago it was different, alive.
The town then half this size, all small shops, seemed more real, authentic.
Then, she thinks, so did we, and
wonders why they choose to return to the scene of earlier happiness.
She watches the Catalans build a human tower in the square.
A knot of men form the base, others will become flying buttresses,
as two women climb to stand on their shoulders.

This town confuses, fast roads bisect her memories.
When they finds a place they remember
she embroiders it with significance.
The women have linked arms, the crowd cheers a young boy,
lifted above the press of men, he begins to climb,
to stand aloft, briefly atop this human pyramid.

Can any marriage survive the children leaving home?
She is doubts their centre is as strong as this castell.
They have ceased, she now understands, to work together.
The boy has climbed down, is lifted from the first tier,
the crowd's approval echoes around the square.
The once structure is now a confluence of individuals,
as she realises such is their trajectory too.
She wonders as to her place in the throng.
I am leaving you with the new Natalie Merchant video which features the sublime Louise Brooks.

Friday, 4 July 2014

THE POLITICS OF BUYING FLOWERS

How often do you buy flowers? These days, with an allotment, I do not tend to buy them as regularly as I used to. Also I am more aware of the distance they have travelled and the resources they require. Here is a poem from 1994.

The Politics of Buying Flowers

Last night filling with cheap petrol,
even in the sodium glare,
their colour provoked.

So I bought them for Jon.

Endured the limping images 
the man felt compelled to speak.

I wanted to say:
They are for my friend,
he will see their beauty 
and smile.
From the perspective of twenty years later I am not sure it quite works. I remember the incident. I noticed the flowers and bought them for my friend. The man in the petrol station assumed they where for the wife and that they must be an attempt to ingratiate myself.

Today I think I would simply tell him who they were for. Then I just smiled and drove away, feeling uncomfortable with my collusion in maintaining a tired stereotype.

Here is another take.

The Politics of Buying Flowers

Provocative colour,
even when badly displayed.

So I bought them for Jon.

As I pay I collude with seaside postcard stereotypes.

I wonder if the man speaking,
believes in the words,
that fall from his mouth.

Perhaps we should both come clean,
admit their beauty.

It would not kill us.
Here is Lucy Ward singing For the Dead Men.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

THE MILDLY OFFENSIVE EP...

Readers of this blog will know of my championing of the comic genius that is Jaff Japers and his amazing band Gaudy Orde. Well, they have just released an ep of midly offensive songs- you can buy it here.

This time out we get five songs that range from the sublime Smokers are Idiots and Kill All the Violent Dogs to the autobiographical Bottoms Reservoir, a cautionary tale about the consequences of not going to the toilet before sailing. 

It is a mixed bag if I am honest. Song for the Bereaved just doesn't work for me. It is the weakest song in Mr. Japers' cannon. I can see what he is getting at but the song just fails to take off.
Rhodri Wees on the other hand links a killer tune to a lyric about a dog with continence issues, and a wonderful singalong chorus.

Bottoms Reservoir is a departure for the band as it is more autobiographical than usual. The Laurel and Hardy riff sets the scene well. 
Smokers are Idiots is a perfect example of Japers craft. It has a well constructed lyric, a hummable tune and conveys his perspective of world effectively. Likewise Kill All The Violent Dogs. These two songs highlight Japers' comic genius. The man is a one off and a national treasure. 

You can buy both the new ep and the album here. The album is excellent. Give yourself a treat buy both of them and to really make your day, go see them live, you won't regret it.

Friday, 27 June 2014

MUYBRIDGE CAMERAS CATCH YOU

Eadweard Muybridge was the man who took those early photographic sequences of people walking, horses galloping that enabled us to accurately see how living things move. I was talking recently about something totally related and the idea of writing something that connects the present day surveillance camera to Muybridge's photographs seemed like a good idea. This is what I have so far.

Exposure

This is no place for a human,
secrets are revealed.
Muybridge cameras catch you,
in consecutive grainy images.
You were told not to look at the lens,
those twenty steps have fixed you in history.
If you are lucky some may even remember your name.

I then thought about the photographs that the Victorians took of criminals to illustrate their belief in phrenology and the misguided idea that criminals are born rather than socially constructed.  
The Faces of Felons

Sullen.
Conditioned to respond to the truncheon.
Each portrait proof that some are born criminals;
take in the thickness of the brow,
the shape of the skull,
then measure the distance between the eyes.
Such physiology condemns them - after the fact.

Here's  a poem I've been playing with for sometime. 

for easy access and reference write your truths on your fingers expect them to change as you age a job for life constantly recording changing reality this map will guide you through the time stream you wade in these are your truths and not universal they are only guaranteed for the time it takes to read them nothing is real let alone permanent don't let this stop you from rejoicing in the bliss of being alive within the beauty that surrounds us all should you care to look up from your palm and take in the wonder of creation

Again it was one of those stream of consciousness ideas that did not look right when spaced differently. It may be a little wordy, watch this space.

Here's Alela Diane live, it's a wonderful concert.