One Hundred Thousand Welcomes is a brilliant project by Illustrated Brum at mac Birmingham. They are requesting open calls from people in the city, visiting the city or who know the city to create a welcome. If you need more inspiration then definitely look at their blog, and on a self promotion level, you can see my entry here
The topic of this week’s session was reflection. Not selfie in the mirror sort of reflection, but reflective practices. Where have you come from? How have you got here? What’s changed and why has it changed? How does who you are affect your creative methods? To answer these questions we created a sort of mind map of ourselves, a soul selfie if you will.
To make a #soulselfie you begin by drawing a picture of yourself and then make a note of your skills, attitudes and attributes. My main skill is the slightly vague, ‘words’ and I’m also surprisingly good at navigating public transport for someone with no sense of direction. But the next question was did I have these skills 10 years ago? And if not where did they come from? I found that my list of attributes, being helpful, open to new people, and generally quite positive (or…
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A unicorn removed from a crest,
Leaving a single lion resplendent and defenceless,
The trident and untested method,
The arms of a man who never had a majority,
Voted in by a country’s equal hate,
And using this to his advantage pulled in a mate who changed every policy the second his fate was sealed.
But the lion’s pride became a demeanour of fear,
Politicians herded north to the people they hadn’t wanted to hear,
Breaking a vow of silence they’d held through three long years of campaigns.
‘Guys,’ they’d said, ‘let’s just stay the same’
A three hundred year or so status quo,
Joined in 1707,
104 years since the catalytic burst –
James VI became James I
And he stopped speaking Scots and wrote in English,
And all the books were printed in English
And all the power became English.
And a long tradition of Scottish kings,
Through the James the Donalds and Malcolm became lost in the greatness that would become Britain,
And Scottishness became Walter Scott’s vision of heather and MacIvor,
Shortbread tin pictures that ignored the reality.
People cleared out for sheep.
People killed for speaking their ain tongue.
People cleared out for hunting.
People cleared out of ship yards.
The cheviot, the stag and
Oil black scars on a map made of jute
Statistics can lie,
A secret x marked in a box marks the rejection of a thousand serpent promises,
Pumping venom through the heart,
Democracy is the antibody where whatever the outcome denotes change.
You can ignore a silent majority,
You can make policy changes for the disinterested,
But you cannot ignore this turnout.
You cannot ignore hard figures etched in blood and black ink,
You cannot ignore mature debates happening from Princes to Buchanan Street
Because one nation we still stand,
Just because we don’t want independence doesn’t mean we will back down,
This is a vote that said,
‘Listen to us,
We are one nation
Hear our rampant lion roar.’
I am the sort of person who slips out of bedrooms and dressing rooms
For no conceivable reason,
I’m just not very good at goodbyes.
I can do cheerio, but when it’s time to go my mind can’t find what to say, and it hunts for every sign to see if I’ve done something wrong.
I’d rather slip out the wrong way – like I did on the first day,
Rushing for a train, as it starts to rain and I’m pinpointing every mistake, every missed syllable,
Because the bubble has burst and now every word has nowhere to go.
I’m not very good at goodbyes.
But I am good at cliches,
Notes on mirrors and tired I love yous
When I don’t know if I still mean it.
Or if I ever did.
If it’s not love, it’s envy at such amazing talent.
I make my way, missing a show I longed to see,
The colours leak from the plaster to the hole in my foot, my thoughts turn to hello.
I’m not very good at hello.
Not unless I know where it will go.
Can track every split hair of a relationship,
From start to inevitable finish.
But these storytellers, in whatever art form they choose,
Have taught me more about myself and the world than I sought to find.
And also how to Beatbox.
I am the sort of person,
Who finds it hard to mark progress,
Because every bone in body is always trying to tell me to run.
Someone who never knows the value in what they do,
The sort of poet who takes every slip up to heart, so it can mend.
The sort of poet who, whilst others are talking insightfully is making stupid jokes about Scooby Doo.
Today I am thankful,
Because of these awe inspiring people,
We left labels behind: you could be blue, yellow or tan – bring your colour,
A Lady Gaga fan or a young mother,
It is your stigma that stays at the door.
I am thankful
For skills, for friendships built to last,
For fudge and jammy dodgers.
Collaborators, facilitators, co-conspirators,
I am thankful
You see, I’m not very good at goodbye,
So I’m not going to say it.
A little something I wrote during Beatfreeks’ summer academies, based on ‘I am’ and blueprints
I am me;
A tangled web of chromosomes,
A unique identity
Compiled from a blue print, millenia in construction,
Designed, erected, edited in post production –
Filled with feelings and memories,
Then set free.
I am me.
I feel like all I really do on here is post poems and don’t waffle enough (all of the rhymes none of the admin, as the gangsters say*) Subsequently, let me tell you about my play (woo).
Battlers is a play about drinking games – as all plays should be, it’s also about youth unemployment and proper serious things; but it’s mainly the drinking.
As with all plays I’m currently up to my elbows in light admin, funding applications and room booking forms, but I’m so excited to be working back in theatre – even if there is a stage manager throwing colour coded spreadsheets at me wherever I go.
On the poetry side, I’ve finally got round to doing a couple of videos, one with a lot of copyright infringement, one without, I have no doubt you can work out which is which.
Hopefully I’ll still have time to make some more before I get so bogged down in rehearsals I’m living on baked beans (it’s happened). I’ll be back soon, probably to try and sell you tickets.
*gangsters probably don’t say that.
As they pop open,
Terry texts Jaz next door,
She hops the fence
It’s breakfast at number 13.
More join their ranks,
Time ticks by as joints are rolled,
Vodka added to isontonic sports drink –
Thank God for happy shopper.
Lunchtime at number 13.
Children’s children picked up from school,
A policeman walks past,
A housing officer,
Seconds into hours of nothing.
The builders come home,
Making houses that will never be their’s
Putting off placing that last brick
Clinging onto employment.
Tyler returns from a long day
Printing off blank pages at the job centre.
Rush hour at number 13.
The next generation take to the streets.
Lizo has knocked up Chardonnay,
Her brother looking for justice
With a bike chain.
Jaz shakes her head,
Memories flood back
As she cracks her Lambrini open
‘TJ, Brad, tea’
The boys run from play to soggy pot noodles
They leave the pavement painted in chalk.
A single word written, blue, block caps:
A poem about summer and sweets seems particularly appropriate today.
It was one of those nights,
The sky stretched out, a fruity humbug striped in pink and lengths of blueberry,
Sat watching the world from up high –
The classy car park
Not the teenage couples’ ‘alone time’ car park –
The scent of grass mixed with the distant promise of rain,
That sweet smell of summer.
Sat, no, stuck to the electric blue £250 Gumtree two door trundle wagon,
Trying to be sexy with a bum like a melted, raspberry Jelly Baby.
Armed with three bottles of rosé and a packet of Tangfastics,
Because there was an offer in Morrison’s.
Sonambulative conversation about… Something,
Something, everything, nothing
You know those nights where nothing is expressed in words,
But nods, and murmurs and rosé scented burps?
When the stifling heat has slightly subsided
Into a breezeless clemency,
Where the sun sits on the horizon, red as a glacé cherry.
And the clouds that aren’t tinted in sunstained pastel yellow,
Hover over the humbug like fluffy marshmallow.
Local radio plays Hotel California,
Don Henley sings in the background like some sort of cheap Rom com
No wine since 1969?
Our protagonists drink Echo Falls from the bottle.
The humbug becomes a black currant and liquorice
And still there is that stillness
The prickly peace
That comes with the summer heat
Until the moment
When you look at that half sunburnt, half drunk creature,
Fast asleep on the bonnet of a Seat Ibiza.
I performed this at the Ledbury Poetry Slam last night.
I’m in love with Shaggy from Scooby Doo,
His cowardice in the face of danger
Fuelled by a cannabis addiction
And rejection of macho stereotypes,
I’m in love with Shaggy from Scooby Doo,
But I see the way he looks at Daphne,
Staring at her arse as she walks as she walks away
Down some ghost ridden, spooky tunnel,
I’m in love with Shaggy from Scooby Doo,
One of these days we’ll borrow a beach house,
Take the mystery machine and hide out
With sandwiches, cakes, milkshakes, biscuits
And Scooby Snax.
I used to get up early every day,
So I could watch you on children’s TV,
Now, I can see you whenever I like,
Lately I feel like I’m using you Shaggy,
You sit in the background as I wash up,
You and me, Shaggy, we deserve better,
Where once my dreams were hopeful and bright,
We now sit outside the haunted mansion
Drinking vanilla milkshakes, you blurt out:
‘Zoinks, c… c… c…. c… c… c…. commitment’
And run, like you used to in the old days,
Straight to Daphne’s welcoming, outstretched arms.
I don’t blame you, Shaggy from Scooby Doo,
Because I know one day I’ll find someone else,