Friday, 13 January 2017

HARDLY A RIPPLE

 
 I have been revising the poem featured in the last post. I was not happy with the character's motivation and felt that her back story needed to be more fully described. I think there is a fine line between giving just enough information and telling not showing. I hope I have not crossed it.
It is always illuminating to share your work with people you trust and respect. Just listening to someone else read your words aloud can be very useful. It was at the behest of the Secret Poets that I set to work to alter the poem.

Pinned by an arrow through her heart until it broke,
she had pulled herself off the splintered shaft
then considered the alternatives;
to settle for the less than perfect;
to mend and make do in this little town.
She got herself an education instead,
almost accidentally traced the currents in the confluence of events
that had led her and him to stand on that bridge,
fasten a padlock to the handrail
and each to cast their key into the sunset water,
for they knew they would never unlock their love.

Council cuts meant that the bridge went unpainted.
The allegedly rustless lock now tainted by atmosphere.
Her levering screwdriver dragged the shackle
screaming from an eight year sleep,
then it became a weight on her palm,
she turned her wrist,
the broken mechanism rushed towards the water.
There was hardly a ripple.
I also set to altering line lengths, which I think adds to the drama of the poem. A poem needs to breathe but still have its own dynamic. This can be a tightrope walking act.
Here is Midlake, sadly missed since Tim Smith was asked to leave the band. What a genius he is, and where is he now?

Saturday, 7 January 2017

TAINTED BY ATMOSPHERE

On Christmas Eve I noticed that people had begun to put padlocks on to the handrail of the footbridge by the Brewhouse Arts Centre here in Taunton. I believe the padlocks act as a physical token of a couple's love and the placing of the lock is a symbolic act of unity. There is a bridge in Paris that was until recently the locus of this behaviour.
The idea germinated over the festive season and I wrote this:

Pinned by an arrow through her heart until it broke,
she had gone to get herself an education
and trace the currents in the confluence of events
that had led her and him to stand on that bridge,
fasten a padlock to the handrail
and each to cast their key into the sunset water,
for they knew they would never unlock their love.

Council cuts meant that the bridge went unpainted.
The allegedly rustless lock now tainted by atmosphere.
Her levering screwdriver dragged the hasp
screaming from an eight year sleep,
then it became a weight on her palm, she turned her wrist,
the broken mechanism rushed towards the water.
There was hardly a ripple.
I think the character's motivation to get an education needs expanding, and thanks to the Secret Poet's for their observations.
I managed to spill a cup of tea on my laptop on Boxing Day which I thought had murdered it. Surprisingly it has sprung back from the dead [for the moment...].
I have been listening to a lot of Nick Drake recently, here's Northern Sky.
And for all you obsessives out there here's a song from his John Peel session that was thought lost for many, many years.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

GUEST POST: SHRUTI GUPTA

Shruti Gupta is a wonderful artist based in Singapore who was looking for a challenge. She asked a number of people to supply her with quotations, poems or lines that they liked so that she could base art works on them. It was a very exciting project and I was lucky enough to be involved.

I shall let Shruti take over the story...

 “He wears a suit stolen from a Chagall painting,
Carries a breathing bouquet, that exhales scent around him,
She appears in a dress, bias cut from an O’Keefe flower.
After meeting on Crocodile Street, they will fly,
Marry above the clouds, entwined, counting stars, until the dawn.

When I first read the poem, I instantly thought of love. The first three lines, descriptive as they are, painted the picture for me. I knew what would be and how. I could imagine it all perfectly - Chagall’s Suit, the color pallet I would use for the artwork would be inspired by Chagall’s works and O’Keefe’s Iris, unevenly cut into a dress, flowing and romantic.

Moving further with the lines in the poem, I decided to watch Schultz’s famous crocodile street once before deciding on how to go about the artwork. Having been a student of psychology, the animation, connected my line of thought to ‘Maslow’s triangle’ immediately. I was aware that the Paul was not making a reference to the triangle of hierarchy but reading the last two lines, how two souls in fancy costumes, having met in this mortal world become one, above the clouds, beyond the worldly pleasures that consume them, steered my mind towards the concept. The reference to ‘flying’ made me think of Rumi’s quote, “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” Yes, it’s not really what the poem is about but this is how my mind gradually created a picture.

It had to be that, the words, reverberated in my mind. This is how I would make this artwork my own, give it a little twist!
Hence, the background is triangular in shape. On it are the two people. A woman wearing the bias cut dress and the man, sans Chagall’s suit. Eve’s apple sitting at the bottom, depicting the basic needs. As the eyes gradually move upwards, one will notice, cars, buildings etc. depicting social needs, need for safety, etc.
Right at the top, sealed into a kiss, with no facial features, they are one, connected only by their beating hearts. It does not matter who you are and where you come from. The only thing that really matters is how you feel.
You can go to Shruti's website here. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Friday, 23 December 2016

WAS IT NOT EVER SO?

 This Solstice has set me thinking about the cycle of life and death. I think some part of us returns to the earth after we die, clad in a different form, to learn more of life. 
This post's poem is about that process and it recycles a line from a poem that did not work. I always keep those lines that seem powerful, that have a good image or that are simply too good to loose.
I was in a car on the motorway, thankfully not driving, when the idea came to me. As usual I am not certain that it is in its finished form but here it is.

As a murmuration of starlings swirls at sunset,
turning in the reddening evening air,
so shall we gather again at the cessation of this cycle,
to regroup and refresh in that timeless space,
before we return for one more round of carbon life and love.
Was it not ever so?

Give thanks
I leave you with a 1979 video of Leonard Cohen singing So Long Marianne.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

AVEBURY 21.12.16

Greetings this Winter Solstice.
How has your day been?
I was up at 5am and driving to Avebury, in Wiltshire, the largest stone circle in Europe. These past few solstices I have been to Glastonbury and Stonehenge but this year I felt I had to return to Avebury.
There was quite a lot of low cloud but when the sun rose it was wonderful.
For me there is something special in the Winter Solstice, it feels like the start of the year.
May this New Year be all you could hope for.

Friday, 16 December 2016

BAZOOKA JOE

Bazooka Joe was a type of bubble gum when I was young. 
Last night I ran a workshop and this is what came out of it.

Bazooka Joe

the summer stretched out on long June evenings longer than pink bubble gum drawn between finger and thumb and I was unable to imagine the number of Monday's to come before school reduced the time to forty five minute segments and the night would last longer than the day
The workshop was a repeat of the one I had attended the other week. This time it led me to think about my teenage years. That heady sense of the endless summer.
I also produced this.

A Series of Movements

My hand writing
mother's signature
D. Tobin [Mrs].
The walk to the sports field,
having to stand on the touch line,
a forged sick note went only so far.
Pass, tackle and try.
Knowing the P.E. teacher
had given up on me.
I do not like sport even now. When I was at school I would forge notes to avoid playing. 
Neither piece is finished but I think they stand as they are. Thanks to Paul Mortimer for helping to pull them into shape.
I have just received the new Anna Ternheim live lp and am off to listen to it.
 Until next time.

Friday, 9 December 2016

HE CARRIED A TORCH

To carry a torch for someone is an old slang phrase for having unrequited feelings for another. It's a phrase I haven't heard for years but it came into my head recently and prompted this.

He carried a torch for me
far longer than was healthy.
I knew this by the cards,
and the telephones pleading cry in the night
that I stopped giving answer to.

Forty years would pass before I watched
his father cross Bold Street,
and I saw the man he had grown into.
I did not rush outside,
nor did I think of him again.

He carried the torch.
Seated in the anonymous window
of a nameless tea-house,
I hid beneath a sun
that sucked the light from his hand. 
Bold Street is in Liverpool. I imaged the narrator sat in one of the tea houses there suddenly seeing a person from her past walk by.
this is only the first draft- watch this space.
I was listening to Serafina Steer today. Here's a live video.