Poems I Have Been Reading… Forugh Farrokhzad

In English we say ‘out of the mouths of babes’, meaning that children often say out loud the unpalatable or indiscreet truths that the adults all know but are trying to ignore. We say it with a hair-ruffling air of indulgence, the implication being that children can get away with statements that would be embarrassing or even dangerous when made by an adult.

On Tuesday evening I went to a workshop on Iranian poetry led by Javaad Alipoor, from theatre company Soroush, and we looked at a poem from the mid-1960s written by iconic female poet Forough Farrokhzad. It was written in the voice of a young girl, and with devastating simplicity it lays out all kinds of unspoken truths like open palms – what it is to be poor and to want things, what it is to mix up desires and needs, what it is to live in fear of police in your own homeland, what it is to put your faith in a messiah. It is wonderfully subversive, all the while wearing the pigtails of innocence. I loved it.

You can read it and find out more about Forugh by clicking here.

Forugh’s brother, the equally iconic poet, broadcaster and singer Fereydoun Farrokhzad, is the subject of Soroush’s new play My Brother’s Country, which comes to ARC Stockton on 23rd and 24th February – but I believe 23rd is sold out already, so you’d better get your Wednesday tickets sharpish! Click here for information and booking. It falls under ARC’s new ‘Pay What You Decide’ initiative, so really have nothing to lose.

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Demeter In Winter

Have I really not been in touch since November? So sorry, been a bit distracted, got a new spoken word show on the go…

GOTH In WinterThe initial idea was pitched to Radio 3 for their Verb New Voices commission last year – I got down to the final three, but wasn’t selected in the end. So I’ve been mulling over how to take a short radio piece and turn it into an hour spoken word show. Still not quite sure, but research and development has so far thrown me into the on-coming traffic of FAR TOO MANY IDEAS, to the point where I’m deliriously uncertain what I’m even writing about any more – the impact of the built environment of mental health? Greenham Common and feminist approaches to creative non-violent protest? Greek myths about spring? Rape culture? Yes, probably/possibly/definitely/maybe…

Lucky me, I was given a week at Caedmon Hall in Gateshead, and a most welcome wee pot of money, by NEADN in order to be confused in a more productive manner, with the helpful input of director Matt Cummins and composer Ed Carter. This is the first time I’ve had the luxury of a residency at this early point in a project’s development, so I wan’t really sure what to do with it. Let’s face it, this is only my second show, and the first one was autobiographical so I kind of knew how it was going to end, which seems like a bit of a cheat in hindsight. Anyway, if you’re massively curious about what goes on during a residency, here’s what I managed: in five days

  1. ‘Found’ DeDe’s posture and way of moving through experiment and rehearsal
  2. ‘Found’ DeDe’s voice through performing a poem in her body – learned the poem by heart
  3. Wrote a short scene between DeDe and her daughter and had a good old think about how that might be performed
  4. Researched Greenham Common protests and wrote a ‘found’ poem using first-person accounts of demonstrations
  5. Wrote a ‘found’ piece using The Handbook Of Urban Survival and started blocking out possible ways of performing it
  6. Took walks around Gateshead guided by local residents, looking at areas that were meaningful to them, places that ‘worked’, places where they felt uncomfortable, discussed the impact of their environment on them
  7. Took solo walks as DeDe and documented it with photos and notes towards further poems
  8. Took lots of video footage towards a possible future filmpoem/AV aspect to the performance
  9. Spent a day taking field recordings and learning how to make simple, layered soundscapes to accompany poems
  10. Recorded two poems and made two different sketches of the same poem with different combinations of field recordings
  11. Was videoed doing an interview about the residency
  12. Met with GIFT to chat about possible audio-tour presentations of the show as it progresses

You can keep up with the explosion of my head via the Pinterest board for this project, where I am randomly scrap-booking images and preoccupations as they assault me.