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London (abstract edition, 06:25 remix)



London (abstract edition, 06:25 remix)

Mar 19

“Throughout my years as student and professor, I have been most inspired by those teachers who have…”

“Throughout my years as student and professor, I have been most inspired by those teachers who have had the courage to transgress those boundaries that would confine each pupil to a rote, assembly-line approach to learning. Such teachers approach students with the will and desire to respond to our unique beings, even if the situation does not allow the full emergence of a relationship based on mutual recognition. Yet the possibility of such recognition is always present.”

- bell hooks; Teaching To Transgress
Mar 17

On Love.

I’m currently in the middle of a manic period. A residential creative writing week at Arvon with a group of Year 6 students, followed by a day in Birmingham offering teachers tools and techniques for working with poetry (via the Princes Teaching institute), back to London to lead my Spoken Word Education seminar at Goldsmiths, then off to Amsterdam to support Poetry Circle Nowhere in constructing a development programme for their poet-educators, then back to London for another Princes Teaching Institute training day. And all the while, staying on top of the todo list, the email inbox, fielding phone calls, chasing up open loops, putting out fires, liasing with doctors on my mother’s behalf, talking people down from summits of stress, keeping everything moving forward, holding it all together…

Yesterday, two milestones. A showcase and anthology launch at the lead training centre (Cardinal Pole School) for the Spoken Word Education Programme, and a showcase/launch to celebrate the end of another year of Barbican Young Poets. If you’re a creative freelancer, you’ll know that our work often moves through emotional peaks and troughs. While you’re making/managing, the work often draws on you. But when you hit a milestone, when you can look back and see what it is that you’ve done; you can appreciate the balance.

It occurs to me that one of the key indicators of success in most (if not all) of my projects is love. Sometimes that love has to be nurtured from a small spark. But when it’s there, and it’s true, beautiful things happen. Love, and all its constituent parts: mutual respect, communication, interdependence, responsibility, forgiveness, care for each other’s well-being… So many of the poets I work with engage with the darker aspects of experience through their writing. But that darkness is transformed through love, even if only of the craft. And that love is manifest in the spaces we make and share.

Perhaps we can say our best work comes from love. And this is the kind of work I’m happiest doing.

More love.

Mar 12

“Meditate, padawan. Make mind like empty seat. People come,…



"Meditate, padawan. Make mind like empty seat. People come, people go, the seat remains. The seat is not troubled by the bodies which sit in it. The seat is only concerned with being the seat."

Channelling my inner voice of wisdom on the train to Poole. Out of London for the day to extract poems from the minds of students at Corfe Hills School in Broadstone. BRB.

Mar 10

“Climate change sucks.” @PeteTheTemp hosts a climate change…



"Climate change sucks." @PeteTheTemp hosts a climate change demonstration/rally in front of the Houses of Parliament. Pete just happens to be one of the Spoken Word Educators (one of the programmes I’m currently responsible for). I just happened to be passing through the area. Serendipity is a beautiful thing.

Mar 7

Back in London. Just spent my afternoon talking about tools for…



Back in London. Just spent my afternoon talking about tools for working with poetry for teachers through the Princes Teaching Institute. Also just got asked to record a thank you to a teacher who inspired me. Mrs Jaekyll— you got your due.

Mar 7

Post-it notes. What did the world do before they were invented?



Post-it notes. What did the world do before they were invented?

Mar 5

Analog thinking…



Analog thinking…

Mar 5

Currently working with Poetry Circle Nowhere. Nowhere is a…



Currently working with Poetry Circle Nowhere. Nowhere is a cultural institution and development agency based in Amsterdam. We’re talking about ways of developing coaches who work with satellite Poetry Circles— communities of writer-performers…

Mar 5

02:30— wake up (thank you, body clock). 03:30— cab to…



02:30— wake up (thank you, body clock). 03:30— cab to Heathrow.
06:30— flight to Amsterdam.
11:00— meetings.
?— pass out?

En route to Amsterdam to work with Poetry Circle Nowhere. BRB.

Mar 4

“Consider all those times you’ve exchanged a million texts with someone while making plans when voice…”

“Consider all those times you’ve exchanged a million texts with someone while making plans when voice would have resolved it much more quickly. Text is often more comfortable even if it’s less convenient.”

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Futures of text | Whoops by Jonathan Libov

A little light lunchtime reading between work-sprints— musing on the future of app interfaces woven into text messaging platforms…

Mar 2

The Archive of the Now

The Archive of the Now:

"Inspired by resources such as UBUWeb and PennSound, we hope to represent the true diversity of poetic practice in the UK. We are dedicated to supporting emerging authors, providing a new distribution network for challenging poetry, and opening up opportunities for collaboration and exchange."

Looks fascinating. I’m hoping to be able to have a look through and get a sense of the content contained. Of course, one of the other archives that comes to mind is the Poetry Archive, but on first glance (and as indicated by the title) The Archive of the Now seems to focus on much more contemporary work…

Feb 17

“It’s more important that you do work that’s important than work that’s pretty….”

“It’s more important that you do work that’s important than work that’s pretty. … What’s important is did it make a change happen? Did it make someone cry? Did it save a life? Did it connect two people in a way that they wouldn’t have been connected?”

- Seth Godin, via Creative Mornings
Feb 16

“Soon after, I was invited to some performance art events outside Japan where performance artists…”

“Soon after, I was invited to some performance art events outside Japan where performance artists were showing their works not to entertain the audience at all but purely to practice their political activities. I could not help but ask myself what the ‘right’ attitude towards the audience is and what such a thing as ‘performance’ is, which only exists in the complex demands, supplies, expectations and misunderstandings between audience and performers. I do not have any answers yet.”

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‘It doesn’t matter if it’s actually raining or not’. An interview with Yoko Ishiguro — Medium

How much performance in poetry is for entertainment’s sake, and how much is… something else?

Feb 12

“Over the years answering that question has not been easy, because racism has so often been used to…”

Over the years answering that question has not been easy, because racism has so often been used to define who we are. First, there was the concept of being “a stranger in your own home”: racism had made you a misfit. You had grown up in the UK, but because of your skin colour you would always be treated as an outsider. It left you feeling empty. You were being told to accept you would never really belong anywhere.

Second, you were often told – with some validity – that because “race” was largely a political and social construct, “being black” had no real meaning. It was a concept created by a racist society and your aspiration should be to free yourself from it. But that also felt inadequate. As a British black person, why did I have to leave behind my particular cultural references and personal history? Why was it not possible to celebrate both being black and being British? Should it really be my aspiration to “escape” from being black?

Third was the radical solution: in a racist society, being black was simply incompatible with being British, so you should choose the former over the latter. Being British was just not for you. Even when this seemed tempting, that option was a lot harder than it appeared. I suspect that most of us have never been more aware of how British we really are than when we visit relatives in the Caribbean or Africa. Like it or not, eventually you have to accept that this country is very much part of you.



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The Black Experience - Portraits of a Community, Matthew Ryder (via The Guardian)

And yes, I’m very much looking forward to this exhibition…

Feb 10

“Brownout, a term also used to describe part of the life cycle of a star, is different from burnout…”

“Brownout, a term also used to describe part of the life cycle of a star, is different from burnout because knowledge workers afflicted by it are not in obvious crisis. They seem to be performing fine: putting in massive hours in meetings and calls across time zones, grinding out work while leading or contributing to global teams, and saying all the right things in meetings (though not in side-bar conversations). However, these executives are often operating in a silent state of continual overwhelm, and the predictable consequence is disengagement.”

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Prevent Your Star Performers from Losing Passion for Their Work - HBR

The article goes on to recommend active partnering, which essentially reads as a more holistic relationship with a line-manager and an engaged awareness of both professional and personal goals, which is unlikely to happen anywhere beyond the most enlightened organisations and institutions. But what about the creative freelancer, who essentially serves as their own manager (and everything else)? Particularly those creatives who don’t have a great deal of experience of working within professional structures, enough to understand the importance of mentoring, peer mentoring, regular professional reviews and all the other valuable meta-practices that keep the business of getting the real work done healthy AND productive?

Who do you have in place to look after your best interests when you’re too busy to do so?

Jan 29

Lessons Learned

  • Depend on imagery more than narrative. Even if the epiphany isn’t startling, the image you choose to offer up for it might well be.

  • Re-interrogate the epiphany. Perhaps it fobbed you off with stale information, told you want you wanted to hear. Tie it down in the chair and torture it hard until it gives you the truth you may not have even known you were looking for.

Jan 28

Hypothesise, practise, validate, shikumika (systematise) – via…



Hypothesise, practise, validate, shikumika (systematise) - via Hiroshi Nikitani

Jan 27

“Thoreau thought that humans had become “tools of their tools,” that they had become…”

“Thoreau thought that humans had become “tools of their tools,” that they had become subordinate to the technologies that they increasingly used in their lives. But part of what I write about is that humans are always the tools of their tools, always affected by, shaped by, and working in entanglement with their devices. There has never been a human for which this wasn’t true. There is no such thing as a natural human without technological supports. Without the technologies of fire and tools and shelter none of us would last very long, and the larger the band of humans, the more tools we need in order to drag a subsistence out of the land for our needy bodies.”

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Doing, thinking, experiencing - the magic of Theatre Book | REACT

Mmm. Hayler’s project, itself a response to Mcguire and Maguire’s Theatre Book, has all the promise of a rather tasty series of essays on innovation in storytelling, digital literature and making. I happened to chance upon it while toying with the idea of an essay/presentation/workshop/syllabus on tools that complement the making of connections between seemingly disparate or incongruent ideas— defined by some as a foundational component of creative thinking. It’s a thread of thought that’s been inspired by Evernote’s context feature (I’ve been raving about this for ages now) that shows notes related to the one you’re viewing based on relationships determined by an algorithm. Also, by some of the more involved ‘related posts’ plugins that can be installed in Wordpress. Also, by some of the apps that represent your notes/data in visual form— Mohiomap and Bubble browser to name a couple.

I’ve written before about the kind of resistance I sometimes experience from writers I work with when it comes to technology. And I understand, I really do. But, as I’m reminded by the reference to Thoreau, these are all just tools. Some of us use paper and pens. Some of us use tablets and styli. Some of us use algorithms. At the end of it all, yes— practice/process is of interest, and can impact the work, but what matters is what’s made…

Jan 25

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an…”

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”

- –Steven Pressfield, The War of Art 6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty | James Clear
Jan 24