Delighted to have been asked for a creative response to the theme of ‘passage’ by the Wapping Project. The Wapping Project was developed in 1984 by Women’s Playhouse Trust [WPT], an arts and education charity. In September 2016, the Wapping Project Commissions was launched. The work will be published on their website on Nov 1st and will be published as part of a limited edition publication in the summer of 2017.
My initial thoughts on ‘commissions’ and their drive to produce work is that, creativity [when under instruction and confined to a timeframe] produces a wave of new thought and a release of a new voice. It offers the writer an opportunity to escape from their own way of writing [from the habitual space that writers at times return to] into a field where writing and words become new shapes in the writer’s vision, a new air is released. It’s liberating. Commissions provide the scaffolding to risks, to play, to experimentation, to step outside and back in again in the house of language.
The first drafts of my collaboration with poet Ana Seferovic…
Oyster rain lustrous pour – shelling
on the window pane –
inside the room
it sounds as if a train is pulling
away & surging
(forward /onwards) into
this unrefined earth:
a nacreous landscape of water
(on & through) the mottled air
like an old French mirror – like a hand
which has dug the field – like a tongue
which has lost a home – like a language
which has shaped its holes by absence
which has drifted like a wet feather
missing from the bird.
is here but not quite here
it is not there either
and yet was
once – irised
inscribed in layers of childhood
nostalgia or day dreams
Reading with Poet Ana Seferovic – contemporary poetry in collaboration for European Literature week on the 14th May at RichMix in Bethnal Green
‘Seeing comes before words’ – John Berger
Responding and interpreting abstract art is comparable to the way we read and respond to poetry. The two art forms are very similar in that, both play with ideas and concepts which can be interpreted in a number of ways. The meanings are sometimes not as liner, not as explicit. The reader of both poetry and abstract art brings in their own interpretation and narrative. It is at this point that something exciting happens. My creative writing ‘taster’ workshop at Orleans Stables Gallery in Twickenham, began exploring the relationship between abstract art and poetry.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”― George Orwell
For a while now, I have wanted to go on a writing course with a purpose other than to provide a stimuli for my own work. Of course, I want that too: – expand the repo-tire of my work, write with a different voice, look at different subject matter. All these things are important to a writer. However, I wanted a course, which could offer something other than the context of generating writing. So when the poet, Tammy Yoeloff, emailed to say that she was running a 6 week poetry course based around the exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, called ‘History is Now’, I knew this was the perfect space to explore concepts and generate a dialogue with art in a way which I haven’t been able to for a while: How do I look at installation? how do I respond to the narrative of the objects and their stories. The subject matter also engaged me; critically, constructively, poetically:- History is Now.
What is History? A “Certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation” as Julian Barnes writes in his eleventh novel, The Sense of an Ending. I felt that the exhibition would raise questions with our sensibilities, our own relationship with the histories we make for ourselves, our perceptions, positions and responsibilities as people in the wider context of history.
The title of the show, ‘History is Now’ is a line taken from the poem ‘Little Giddings, the last of T.S Eliot’s Four Quartets. I like the play on the fact that History is Now, indeed we are creating it as we speak it, more dangerously we often keep recreating it (I am thinking of politics, wars and often love) and live in its chaos and patterns, novelist, Chuck Palahniuk in Survivor says:
“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables.”
This exhibition explores particular periods of British cultural and social history. Seven British artists, were given their own sections of the gallery to curate, each responding and reflecting to certain periods of history: the cold war, protest movements, BSE, post Thatcherite society. In the first week, we looked at Simon’s Fujiwara installation of objects: the democracy of them as they were placed next to each other, carefully, deliberately to tell a wider story of the post Thatcherite society we lived in. And the story Fujiwara was introducing to his audience was largely our own relationship with mass production/ consumerism, our own dialogue with wealth, class and disposal. I found his mindful and scrupulous positioning of objects, some personal, some borrowed from the Arts Councils’ collections tell a poignant anecdote of modern society.
This poem was inspired by the art work of Gavin Turk, called Garbage Bags which Simon Fujiwara had as one of his objects in his space. This is a first draft only.
after Gavin Turk
My garbage slides down the side
of my house – growing with waste
against the brick – materials,
possessions – unwantedness.
Slouched, coal black bodies willowing
under a night’s eye, scanning the comings
and goings of sleep, the unhurried nocturnal
animal beyond and the little girl miles
away on a snow capped rubbish tip –
a mountain of grey white metal,
picking her way through the wild flowers
that stretch these margins of hardware
deposit, mineral, to find a broken
photo frame, a picture of a family
looking ahead – beyond her gaze
or the scribbled paleness of sky
whitening – to somewhere colder still.
‘What Things Are’ was launched with three other Eyewear poets, Jemma Borg, Keiran Goddard and Colette Sensier at the London Review Bookshop on October 15th 2014. That night, the rain poured on London but it didn’t stop the amazing turnout. A great crowd, great readings, great poets. I really would like to share the poems from ‘What Things Are’ to a greater audience and connect with our experiences of family.
Today, I took my gorgeously troublesome, children and husband ( not sure if he fits into the troublesome category though, actually I think he does) to collect my new book, ‘What Things Are.’ The book is in an odd way, very much part of the family. In the park, the conkers fell, the children ran and I sat on a bench, savouring the moment.
Necks like mountain slopes dipping into a valley.
They look lost in the silent light of sleep,
horse skin smooth against horse skin.
Suddenly they buckle and we are left watching
a field of winter. Sometimes in bed, I can feel
your arm reaching towards me, snow galloping
outside and this time the horses remain still,
their breath in my mouth, their power overwhelming.
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