Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Out of the tunnel

Poem ideas developed during 15minutes exercises from the workshop on 'Maps, Charts & Plans' with Emma Purshouse during the Audlem Festival on Sunday 25th May 2014.

Exercise 1. Describe yourself as a journey.

A walk on the pier
Drawn in by loudness, laughter
ice creams and screams.
Look down through separated planks,
a glimpse of unknown depths.

Exercise 2. Develop a piece of writing from a list of found place names.

They came from Little Shrewley
Looking all the same.
Small, wizened, pointy faces
looking for others to take the blame.

They made us stand on Ugly Bridge.
ugly in spirit, ugly in deed
different from them they said,
following a different creed.

But now we are on Gallows Bridge
gazing into shallow depths.
Our rainbow Cape of love and pride
blowing proudly in the breeze.

Exercise 3. Map out a well known personal route as a description for others to follow

Out the door the wind will take your breath away
even before you see the sea.
Follow the noise of mixed tongues
strolling unawares, unconcerned
into the path of cyclists
in training, in a rush.

Down the ramp framed by peeling green ironwork
into the drift of smoking fish
and discarded seafood seashells.
Past the incessant rise and fall
of circular song, and in the distance
the skeletal remains rise out of the sea
creating art from disaster.

And finally a pause, below the Grand facade
seduced to sit and sip the warm exotic scents
and watch the world go by 
wrapped in overheard conversations.

Out of a tunnel and into the light

Sheltering from a rainstorm under a canal bridge at Audlem

I can never believe the time that elapses between urges to write in my blog. 
It's not that I stop writing, I just often don't feel the need to share what I think or write.
However, sometimes you meet people in life that encourage you to re-consider the potential of what you create sporadically, and this is where the happy accident of meeting the talented, generous spirit of Emma Purshouse comes in. A stroll along the canal at Norbury Junction during the festival there a few weeks ago led to me experiencing my first poetry slam (as a member of the audience-let's not get ahead of ourselves!) and subsequently participating in one of Emma's creative writing workshops a couple of days later.

I can't deny that walking down to The Mill in Audlem the stress of only just making it there on time was exchanged for reticent anticipation and a lurking fear of that I may not be able to write in company, or in response to someone else's themes or starting points. Emma knew most of the people in the workshop, some of whom were devotees of her performance poetry and others whom she had inspired in previous workshops and who now attended regular groups formed from relationships developed in those workshops. Emma's positivity and ability to make encouraging comments on each of the results form the exercises she developed created a supportive environment in which the majority felt able to share their attempts without fear of ridicule or negative reaction. Over a 2 hour period I learnt more about my own ability than I had recognised before and was pleasantly surprised by my response.

The next few posts will hopefully now come more often as I have a little more confidence in sharing the intermittent episodes of writing and hopefully develop a consistent creative text and image related output.

Watch this space...occasionally!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Legacies. What legacies?

In the rush to keep the party going, to harness the positive spirit and national pride we are already witnessing the analysis so popular in the media and sport. Not wanting to be seen sitting in another room, and desperate to be part of the party, pundits and politicians are falling over themselves in a drunken stupor of knee-jerk promises they can neither keep or have thought through. But I can’t help feeling that somehow we may be too keen to stay in an euphoric bubble of self-congratulation and delusion.
There is no doubt that success by a few can provide inspiration for many, and I am first in the queue for celebrating the many and varied achievements of London 2012 and recognising the commitment and sacrifices made by many people to be part of an amazing and heart-warming spectacle.
There is also no doubt that confidence and self-esteem comes through success and achievement. But only through sport for all?
There is no doubt that physical exercise has great physical and mental health benefits. But, in reality, it is not available to all.
There is no doubt that in many instances the competitive spirit is an important aspect of striving for success. But only through sport?
Maybe we could take a broader view of the London 2012 legacy and in our analyses consider the attitude and commitment of the celebrated volunteers. This may be where the real party and legacy is at. It’s easy to make wrong assumptions but I am guessing that their involvement was;
Not competitive to the point of selfishness, self-destruction and sacrifice.
Not success at all personal, financial and relationship costs.
Not fear of failure, to point of manipulating the outcome.
Not tears at failing to be the best, and disregard for fellow competitors’ success.
But, joy at being involved in something much bigger than the self and a commitment to ensuring that others shared their enthusiasm.

And before I forget the point of all this (having just been to phone a complete stranger to let them know their cat has strayed far from home and is playing alongside a busy main road), I would like to reflect on the opening and closing ceremonies in which we celebrated British history and culture. We demonstrated to the world we are deeply rooted in our past. A past that sought to succeed at all costs in order to dominate our fellow humans, often with a blatant disregard for their welfare or opinions. In the spectacle that celebrated British culture we relied heavily on that past for inspiration, fulfilled many stereotypes to please the visitors, and focussed much less on the now and the future.
British creativity was at the heart of both ceremonies.
But are we to have 2 hours compulsory art, 2 hours compulsory music, 2 hours compulsory literature in which artists inspire so that we can be the best in these fields? Where is the guaranteed arts funding?
The arts are competitive.
The arts require sacrifice.
The arts really can be for everyone, whether as a participator or creator.
Who chooses? Who values?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Calm & Chaos in Cornwall

We arrived in Cornwall seven days ago, the van loaded with dogs, food and art materials and thanks to a generous artist friend we had no worries about where to stay as she was lending us her house while she went off to the far east.

THE PLAN; rest, eat and be inspired by the quintessentially creative Cornish landscape.

And so far I have achieved two out of three. On the third count of being inspired I am disappointed by my inability to get past the cliches. I have not tired of amazing views of the sea as we drop down into Watergate Bay or the quaint charm of old style fishing villages like Fowey and Mevagissey. I appreciate that their survival relies on tuning into the essential income from tourists and have enjoyed browsing the endless little windows of decorative nautical paraphernalia and local art before choosing a trendy cafe for tea or latte.
I have yet to justify the cost of fish and chips or a cream tea (things I was looking forward to) or buy any trinkets, preferring to eat packed lunches and beachcomb for souvenirs and spend our limited budget on fuel exploring.

But most of all I am still searching for the elusive emotional response....lets see what today brings!

Monday, 16 August 2010

What has happened to our Pride?
Washed away with innumerable litres of alcohol?
Pissed away along hedges posing as al fresco latrines?
Vomited up on pavements by people no longer sickened by the shame,
But maybe still with a desire to numb their lives?

Pride (but no prejudice) paraded with the expected flamboyance and camp.
Cheers for those who strip to golden muscled skins or sing our adopted anthems.
Cheers for the uniforms, real and not, more subdued applause for the quiet
March of those who tirelessly work for our individual health and well-being.
Are their messages lost in the text of their simple banners?

What message does Pride (but no prejudice) carry?
We celebrate our visibility for ourselves, and the thousands who are unaware we exist.
We shed emotional tears of Pride for ourselves; for those of us who have swum against the tide to reach safe water, and encourage those who have yet to leap from the safety nets to be brave.
We shed tears for those who cannot share our pride and feel what we feel.

But what do the newly aware now believe?
That the children waving their rainbow flags today will no longer return to school
And call somebody in the playground gay when they do not fit in?
That the thousands of gay and straight people at Pride (but no prejudice)
will love each other when they are sober, and not choose to piss on them from the pier?

Will Pride (but no prejudice) have given all of us the courage
to challenge years of oppression and fear?
Will we have been enriched by the cultural diversity within the gay community?
Or will we have simply shown that, like our straight peers, we lack the courage
To celebrate diversity and difference, to stand out from the crowd.

Are we proud of our ability to throw the biggest alcohol and drug fuelled party?
Are we happy that the only real beneficiaries of many Prides are the pubs and clubs?
Or is the reality that we simply go along with it because that is what is on offer?
Our chance to be in the majority, to be visible, to have protection in number,
And that really we do not want to be different. We just want to forget?

I want to celebrate. I want to be proud.
I want to recognise myself within a diverse gay community.
The emotion on the faces around me at the start of the parade suggests
That others feel as I feel, each of us with our own story and expectation of Pride.
The ability to ‘be’ with pride and without prejudice, and to share that emotion
and togetherness for at least one day is what keeps many of us coming year after year.

But the prejudice exists. From within.
When gay friends feel uncomfortable holding hands,
When there is no space left to sit and enjoy the atmosphere without being heavily fallen on by incapable drunks, or stepped on because there is no room left to pass.
When all afternoon is spent queuing for a toilet only to find it is out of order from overuse.
When you try to stave off the panic of being fenced in like cattle with little hope of escape.
When the press suggest that the clean up bill is unacceptable for a ‘gay’ event that is not gay,
Is it time to call time on Pride (but no prejudice) and re-evaluate?
Shouldn’t we celebrate diversity by offering diversity?

One of my lasting memories will be time spent in a small park on Sunday when we became
the audience in a spontaneous concert by a snazzily dressed singer and watched children
dance around a monument which currently has little significance for them.