“The ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life.”
There are monsters in the blank spaces in the map,
too many men ruining the world,
mothers weaving together the stems of days,
and obeah is just a sick beat to dance to.
I hear you learned the 99 names of God,
one that robs you blind,
strange, and familiar.
God’s needlework, fading—
Its ticking reassures you that it’s still alive.
Grief is black.
How you measure loss, the burn in your tongue,
your throat. What is poetry if not a prayer?
I’ve been hosting Walthamstow Garden Party’s Earthly Paradise tent today (this post from backstage between sets— gotta love mobile tech…) Above, a collage-work of some of the lines I’ve heard today that have wormed their way into my thoughts…
“More importantly, be responsible for yourself first. As Jerry likes to say, go on a continuous journey of radical self-inquiry. Understand yourself. Learn about yourself. Take care of yourself. Be responsible for yourself. Only then can you be constructively responsible for others and things around you.”
This process, beginning to end takes about 3-5 minutes. I’ve done it hundreds of times since November, and now have a library of stuff which produces neat connections about half the time I use it. It took a long time to get here, a lot of work, but I am not kidding when I say it’s a superpower. Or as I said to David Wiley a while back, “My main pitch for this thing is this — it’s made me smarter. A lot smarter.“
It does that by forcing me to suspend my reaction to things until I’ve summarized them and connected them to previous knowledge. It forces me to confront contradictions between new knowledge and previous knowledge, and see unexpected parallels across multiple domains. It forces me to constantly review, rehearse, revise, and update old knowledge.
What do other social media solutions do? They allow you to comment on it, to share it. They ask you to react immediately, preferably with a quick opinion. They push you to always look at the new — never connect or revisit the old. They treat your reaction — your feelings about the thing — as the center of your media universe.
Can any of this be good for learning? For empathy? For innovation?
– I found Mike Caulfield’s site recently through a bit of research on knowledge management and note-making. If you have any interest in commonplace notebooks (dear writer— I’m looking at you) and how to supercharge your repository of digital note-based thinking1, you’ll benefit from keeping an eye on his blog. Before you angrily wave your fancy Moleskine or Muji notebook at me, consider this as more of an extension of your handwritten workflow, rather than a replacement. ↩
I found Mike Caulfield’s site recently through a bit of research on knowledge management and note-making. If you have any interest in commonplace notebooks (dear writer— I’m looking at you) and how to supercharge your repository of digital note-based thinking1, you’ll benefit from keeping an eye on his blog.
Before you angrily wave your fancy Moleskine or Muji notebook at me, consider this as more of an extension of your handwritten workflow, rather than a replacement. ↩
Yes, there’s work to do, but there are also friends to catch up with, and I reckon I’ve earned some time off for good behaviour. Much love to @naomiwoddis and eyes on her new project: http://whoeverwasusingthisbedblog.wordpress.com/
(Dear Instagram— auto-links, please? #stinkeye ) (at Arepa and Co.)
Hosted a youth slam for @eastsideeducationaltrust this morning, then walked straight into a strike for schools…
“The mandate is to build. To make things. To produce, to work, to be paid, to live. To feel that one’s family has a chance. To feel that one might retire comfortably. To be free of fear. The mandate is to rebuild community — something that has unquestionably been lost as the traditional touchstones of self-location in society have been dismantled by the arrival of the future.”
A while back I posted a thought about three things each “artist” might need for their journey: a practice, a compass and a mirror. Mirrors are sometimes associated with an attention paid to surface detail or some sense of vanity, but I was pointing towards deeper reflection, taking the time out to check in with self. Time to be still and hear what the quiet, internal voice has to say. Time to balance out all that doing and just be. (at Greenwich Park)
Today: working with NUT teachers in Grantham. Agenda item 1: poems. Agenda item 2: poems. Agenda item 3: …you get the idea. (at Stoke Rochford Hall)
Inventing gods I can live with; specificity as self-defence (defining oneself through specific niche concerns); music. These are your three themes for writing today. Pick one of the three, or any combination, and write. (at Barbican Centre)
Spent the day working with these two – @lauriebolger and @raymond_antrobus – among others (Valerie Bloom, @adisapoet and John Hegley…), writing poetry with students from Great Yarmouth at UEA.
One of my current Spoken Word Educators is working with blind and partially sighted students, exploring the way imagery can be constructed in spite of the senses. I came across this feature and it made me think of her work…
To get the best view, sometimes you have to jump out of a plane.: File under miscellany.
“It’s a subtle difference, but that’s the whole point: English is an awfully subtle instrument. A dictionary that ignores these little shades is dangerous; in fact in those cases it’s worse than useless. It’s misleading, deflating. It divests those words of their worth and purpose.”
– In recent conversation about dictionary use with one of the young poets I’m tutoring, I came back to this post about the power of a good dictionary and, in particular, Webster’s 1913 edition. True, Webster’s defines American English, and I have yet to settle on a similarly enlivening British English equivalent, but the thought of a dictionary as a living repository rather than a graveyard is an appealing one.
In recent conversation about dictionary use with one of the young poets I’m tutoring, I came back to this post about the power of a good dictionary and, in particular, Webster’s 1913 edition. True, Webster’s defines American English, and I have yet to settle on a similarly enlivening British English equivalent, but the thought of a dictionary as a living repository rather than a graveyard is an appealing one.
I’ve been talking about Breaking Silence through a number of school visits recently, and taking the opportunity to reference the influence of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man on the collection. Came across this photo feature through the kind of serendipity that makes the internet worthwhile…
“In the swerve into some new possibility of mind, a poem with a window stops to look elsewhere, drawing on something outside of its self-constructed domain and walls. A window can be held by a change of sense realms or a switch of rhetorical strategy, can be framed by a turn of grammar or ethical stance, can be sawn open by an overt statement or slipped in almost unseen. Whether large or small, what I am calling a window is recognized primarily by the experience of expansion it brings: the poem’s nature is changed because its scope has become larger.”