Amazing street art in Berlin, by one of my favourites, Belgian artist ROA. I first encountered his work on the cover of a reprint of the novel And The Ass Saw The Angel by Nick Cave. That’s fairly indicative of how I learn these days, following odd leads that often aren’t poetry, but that speak to me in some way. The best I could do this week in terms of the blog was couple the above image with a line of my own:
if the earth stops turning, we’ll fall upwards to the sky
Hope that puts positive spin on whatever’s happening to you right now in this fast/crazy/amazing world.
Here’s great way to kickstart your writing in the New Year. Cut some snippets of text from a range of newspapers/ magazines/ novels (whatever you can lay your hands on). Maybe add some found images too. Pop them in a bag and post them to a fellow poet, challenging them to make a poem out of the contents. This is what my good friend, the academic (and poet) Dr Zoe Walkington did for me just before Christmas. I didn’t realise until I’d created the poem (above) that Zoe had already had a go with the same bits of text and image. I can’t reprint her poem here yet, because I’ve urged her to submit it to an online journal. However, here’s what she says about the process:
‘The way I created it was cutting up two magazines. As you have identified one was a Sunday supplement, and the other was a “specialist” magazine which was a sort of ‘psychologists digest’ type magazine which I receive as part of my membership of an American psychological society.
I made up my own poem, then – being lazy – never glued it together, and so the parts of the poem sat on my desk for a while, and I then looked at the bits one day and thought “what would Julie do with these?”
The idea of putting it in a freezer bag was just a random method of transport but then I thought it could merit the title of “a poem in a bag”!! ‘
Luckily, Zoe saved a picture of her poem, which used more images than I did to create a surreal collage effect. Her use of the text is great, but you’ll have to take my word for that (at least until it gets accepted by a magazine). In the meantime, why not send some cut-up text to a friend and see what they make of it. I think ‘a poem in a bag’ is a brilliant way to start the New Year.
Just got back from Berlin – fantastic street art!
Life: A User’s Manual
Like an apartment block with the front removed,
Perec’s novel of a thousand intertwined lives
and addresses, the logic of who lives on the first floor
at number 20, who lived there before,
how that’s relevant to the family on the third floor,
who emigrated, but not before they’d buried
the husband’s younger brother, the one with a flaw
so deep it surfaced in their dreams.
The dreams themselves are on another storey,
where the concierge uses the master key to let himself in
using the mathematics of the number 3,
a magic number, relevant to everything we do,
so our lives are in this book too, like the man
who makes it his business to track down the au-pair
who drowned his only child in the bath
using a series of calculations based on the probability
that any closing chapter ends in a rented room,
the television talking quietly to itself,
a couple asleep on their backs.
(from my pamphlet Out of the Weather, Smith/Doorstop, 2017)