Friday, 27 January 2017

FAITH AS WELL

Apologies for reusing a photograph I've already posted but strangely enough I have few pictures of scaffolding. In actual fact I have one photograph of scaffolding.
Last Friday I was in a friend's car and we had to stop for a lorry loaded with scaffolding equipment to manoeuvre into place so as to make the  unloading easier. I happened to say "You need optimism to be a scaffolder". I was thinking of the times I have seen them balancing on bars to construct these amazing frames inside which something will happen. This set me thinking
You Have to be Optimistic to be a Scaffolder

Balanced on a horizontal bar.
Up there, in the zone,
bolting in a supporting spar,
you need the knowledge, faith as well,
to sketch a safe perimeter,
build another’s workspace,
and when the tower is assembled,
and when the learning‘s done,
like a strip of film run
the wrong way through the projector,
piece by piece, you take it down,
to construct the next nurturing shell,
which in its turn you’ll dismantle,
to start from scratch again.

I think it is a pretty straight forward poem. It is not yet complete. It requires work-watch this space [as you would scaffolding being erected].
Here's Bottle Top Blues by Brooke Sharkey. It's just been released as a single.
Until next time.

Friday, 20 January 2017

SHE MAY SPEAK TO YOU

This is a self portrait by Ofelia Marques, a Portuguese artist. I was recently looking through a catalogue I'd picked up in Lisbon years ago and the drawing caught my eye.
Originally I attempted to write a found poem using the potted biography that accompanied the picture. It was obviously translated from the Portuguese:

another factor that led to the misreading of her;
yet more attentive observation of her drawings suffices to reveal the plastic value of her line;
she helps herself to the lexicon used by each artist;
in an appropriation of his register;
the profound silence that circumscribed her entire oeuvre demands rethinking.

There was more, it mainly focused on the fact that she had not had children, implying [to my eyes, at least] that this was a failure. 
Looking again at these rich lines I may well turn them into a poem.
Anyway this is my humble offering to Ofelia Marques.


the artist as a novelty act
defined by her inactive womb
written off some fifty years before
not to be taken seriously at all

but take a moment
look beyond the frame of history
she may speak to you
as she talks to me
Last time I was in Lisbon there was an exhibition of the 60's on. This is fitting as 50 years ago today The Beatles were in the studio recording A Day In The Life [they worked on the song 19/20 January and 3/10 February 1967].
Sargent Pepper was the second lp I ever bought. I was 11 at the time it was released and while it has not stood the test of time as well as Revolver, Abbey Road or Magical Mystery Tour, A Day In The Life is awe inspiring...

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.