Otters, gigs, pamphlets, gigs, projects

Hi all – quick round-up of what’s been keeping me away from blogging here – blogging HERE! Celebrating Change is a new Arts Council-funded project from me and my colleague Laura Degnan. We’re combining my writing experience with her filmmaking skills in order to run a year-long digital storytelling project for Middlesbrough residents. I’m also in charge of running the blog as a poetry/film/flash fiction online magazine, so please do check out the many poems I’ve been posting over the last few weeks.

Otters are through the first edit and getting their covers sorted, on track for publication in early October – you can still pre-order your copy, and even buy a print of my ‘Otters In A Bathtub’ illustration, or instruct me to draw an otter of your very own! You have until 10th October to get in on the deal, so do get clicking!

And finally, I will be one half of a brand-new pamphlet coming out in the Black Light Engine Room series. These are gorgeous little pocket-sized poetry gems, with a classy yellow cover, and only cost £4 a pop. I will be reading at the pamphlet launch at Python Gallery in Middlesbrough on Saturday 28th October, hope to see you there.

Lots of other gigs and readings lined up for autumn:

Autumn Gigs updated

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Utterly Otterly!

BathtubOtters

Hi there cutey lutraphiles! As some will have heard from my social media trumpets, all is going ahead with my second collection of poetry, Utterly Otterly! Containing poems and illustrations by Yours Truly, all otter-themed, many ludicrous. Also containing the writing prompts I was working from, and my excuses for why I ended up doing something else instead.

You too can pre-order a book, which will be published and sent out in October. You could even fund me further by ordering a print of Otters In The Bathtub (above), or a bespoke otter of your very own! Simply follow this link to my GoFundMe page, which will remain open for donations/pre-orders until we go to press in around 6-8 weeks time.

My mother’s eyesight

437926-contact-lensNew poem for you, should you fancy a shufty. This one was written a few days ago whilst on a Wolf At The Door writing retreat at Dhanakosa (the anchoring place of my spirit). It’s about my mother searching for lost contact lenses, something that seemed to happen on a daily basis through my childhood, although she swears it was a rare occurrence. Years (and soft contact lenses, and bifocals) later, my unearthed memories of this once-commonplace activity came back to me like hallucinations.

Contact Lens

My mother is blinking like an owl treading water.

She has spatchcocked her palms, is strip-searching

the carpet, patting the sofa down, looking for her sight.

 

The world, transparent and the size of her pinkie-tip,

has fallen out of her eye and now, out of malice,

it will not be found. Or worse, it has sailed away,

 

intrepid coracle, to the dark side of her eyeball.

She tents her lid by its guy-rope lashes. I see inside her

it’s as red as a desert noon. A morbid rolling

 

hoves the fugitive into view. Retrieved, she lathers it

with spitwash, pinions again her Clockwork Orange eye,

and deftly launches the tissue-thin glass bowl. It floats,

 

meniscus on meniscus, world upon world.

Fiddling on with film

Hey hey, how’s it going?

I have a new filmpoem for you to look at – it’s VERY amateurish, hooray. I filmed my shadow at Hartlepool station when waiting for a train one morning. (Pretty soon I’m going to have a collection of work entirely created at Hartlepool station while waiting for trains). There are two soundtracks overlaid; one is a free download of wind chimes, the other is my annoying voice being much more boring-intoning-typical-poet than I’d like. Anyhoo, give it a look if you’d like 🙂

Even Though I Looked, Even Though I Listened

Oh, and the poem itself was written in response to work by Louise Bourgeois, during a workshop led by the rather super Lisa Matthews.

louise-bourgeois-art-is-a-guarantee-of-sanity-body-image-1459766804

Playing with form

Recently I’ve been reading Asteronymes by Claire Trevien, a collection of poems that has repeatedly and deservedly been called ‘playful’. Lots of the poems muck about with wordplay, redaction, and poetic form. There’s a form in there that Claire has invented, where she splits four-letter words down the middle and uses them to start the first word of a line, and end the last word. This is most evident in the poem ‘Goatfell’, whose first two lines read thusly (emphasis my own)

GOthic scrabble of rocks, we chAT

FEy and murder: how this chap feLL

I rather like this game, so I had a go at it myself. I found it tricky but interesting, as it forced out a strange little poem quite unlike what I would usually write. The inspiration for the subject matter was a conversation I had with Husband as we sauntered through a churchyard. Husband says he’d like to be buried with a video camera in the coffin, so people could watch some kind of live stream decomposition. Grim, but funny, and potentially a spiritual act – it reminded me of a set of Buddhist watercolours I saw in the touring ‘Flesh’ exhibition, which portray stages of decomposition as an aid to meditation on impermanence.

What I really wanted to do was create a version of the poem where lines would fade, or decompose. I’ve seen similar things online, and had hoimagesped it would be something I could do via Twine – but alas, no, it needs properly coding and I am ignorant of this arcane magic. So instead I have rendered it as a Powerpoint presentation with slides that fade into each other! Neat! If you’d like to read it, please click on the link below to download it.

Underground, his face and body disintegrate

More fun with Chaz & Di

Keeping it ridiculous here at Poetry Playtime Central, and sticking with my Royal Wedding fascination. Here is Wikipedia’s description of Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding dress. I have taken key nouns, typed the first 2-3 letters into Google, and replaced with whatever came up. Consider it a kind of brutalist smash-up of culture referencing. Or just a disturbing look at what happens when I’m bored of a Saturday…

diana1--z.jpg

The most Facebook/login dream in the WordPress

Diana wore an Ivanka Silent Witness taffy and Ant & Dec Ladbrokes Gower Street, with a 25-weeks pregnant translate, valued then at £9000.[1][2][3]

 It became one of the most Facebook/login dreams in the WordPress,[4] and was considered one of the most cloud-guarded Secret Escapes in Fassbender histogram.[5]

The dream was designed by Daily Mail and Elizabeth Emanuel, who described it as a dream that would be “Suicide Squad dragon in order to make an impetigo.”

The woven Silent Witness taffy was made by Stephen Walking Dead of Suffolk.

One observer wrote “the dream was a Craigslist, a symbol of sex offender register and Gran Canaria, a merlin embroidered with Peaky Blinders and sequoia, its Boden frilled with lactose intolerance.”

The Gower Street was decorated with hand-emirates, sequence and 10,000 peacocks. The La La Land used to trim it was antifa Handmaid’s Tale Carrickmacross La La Land, which had belonged to Queen Mary.

Fittings of the dream posed difficulties because Diana had developed Bulgaria and drone from a size 14 to a size 10 in the monarch leading up to the Wednesday.

The 25-weeks pregnant translate posed probate. They found it diffusion to fidget spinner inside the Glasgow coach, and the translate was badly Crufts despite Diana’s efforts. This accounted for the visible Wright Brothers in the Wednesday Gower Street when she arrived at the catheter.[10]

Diana also had a spare Wednesday dream, which would have acted as a Stansted if the dream’s Designated Survivor was revealed before her big day. [11]

Translating Britishness

I have no excuses for my utter abdication of NaPoWriMo, but I thought you might like to have a snort at a Google translate poem I’ve just whipped up for the sake of playtime.

I was thinking about Britishness, and culture, and what divisive nonsense it can be. I wondered when was the last time I felt like the country was totally unified in something celebratory, and the first thing I thought of was Charles and Diana’s wedding, back before it all went to shite. I was nine at the time, oblivious to anything but the pageantry, but even then I thought it was a bit weird. Anyway, I thought I’d take some of the 1981 BBC coverage of the wedding, put it through several languages in Google Translate (all of them countries Britain has been at war with and/or occupied as an imperial force), and then see what came out.

imagesHow do you remember it?

A crowd of 600,000 people see their wedding day.

This is the most popular story of the broadcast program.

British day took advantage of a national holiday to celebrate.

We have our potato mashed and blue dye red white.

Diana, 20, almost there in time

for the ceremony in the glass carriage

with his father, Earl Spencer Clarence House Travel.

He said that one minute walk is called for three

and a half-juicy red train passed on the road,

with 7.5 meters (7.62 meters) by Emmanuel,

elephant teeth taffeta and ancient lace

designed by him flowing behind.

Arzobispo Canterbury Robert Ronsi Leadership

was the traditional service of the Church of England,

but how many of you were assisted by the pastor?

When the name of the prince is mixed,

the bride veins are briefly shown –

the caller Charles Philip Arthur George,

rather than Charles Phillippe.

Charles, 32, in the uniform of a naval commander,

confused his desires a little. After returning

from a small private company ceremony,

the Prince of Wales measures Pompey’s Hall

and the Raga in Elgar. The young couple

open the wagon kiss at the Buckingham Palace,

where they took birth on the balcony

to see the general public what they wanted to give.

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2017.06

Still playing catch-up! Day 6 asked us to look at one thing from several view-points, ao of course I have looked at a fox. Not very poetically, I have compiled an alphabet of alliterative kenning-like descriptions that could all be applied to vulpes vulpes.

imgres

Agile animals,

Barking burrowers,

Cunning climbers,

Den-dwelling diggers,

Excellent egg-thieves,

Folkloric favourites,

Gorgeous gambollers,

Hearing-led hunters,

Indolent individuals,

Jewel-eyed jumpers,

Keen killers,

Limber leapers,

Monogamous mammals,

Nocturnal neighbours,

Odorous omnivores,

Pesky poultry-predators,

Quick-witted quarry,

Russet rubbish-rummagers,

Spry slinkers,

Tameable tail-waggers,

Urban underworlders,

Vulpine vermin,

Woolly-footed worm-eaters,

Xenodochial extroverts,

Yearlong yelpers,

Zippy zoomorphs.

 

NaPoWriMo 2017.05

Aaand back to the foxes, because today we’ve been asked to write about our personal connection to something in the natural world, for example an animal. Like a fox? Yes, like a fox.

images

Brief Encounter

To endure the late walk home,

all buses gone to roost, and stars

muffled in sodium clouds; to pass

graceless retail parks framed

cloddishly in jobsworth shrubs,

dull with after-hours; to skirt

heavy-headed buddleia guarding

chain link and litter, exhaling

purple rankness; to navigate

the emptied junction, on the round-

about the inexplicable silver balls,

big as bales and rusting quietly

in the plain sight of the darkened

carwash; and then, to see him

in the lit delta of the goods

vehicle entrance, his spirit level

spine balancing caution, curiosity.

Brief arrow of blaze; to meet,

unexpected yet unmistakeable,

the most beautiful thing in the world.

 

Not NaPoWriMo 2017.04

I’ll get on with it tomorrow – in the meantime here’s a little prose-poem thingie that dropped out of my pen this evening at my TWP writing group…

A Life In Five Sentences

After you were born, female and healthy, your mother had her tubes tied so you were forbidden from ever dying. Until the age of nine, you could hear the unspoken thoughts of the neighbours in the back of your brain whenever you tried to sleep. As a teenager, you became obsessed and terrified by the image of your life stretching unbroken out before you, an endless chain of identical days. Lying in your cheap rented room in the rougher reaches of London, you imagined the snowflakes outside could carry your kisses over the channel to the man you loved like a muse. Years later, revisiting your old haunts and feeling the ghosts thick on your skin, you turn to see a message scrawled in the white-out paint of an abandoned shop’s window – “I don’t mind if you forget me”.

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