… Around me, ice crust circles
with a gleam and glare
that holds me, then gives way beneath my boot. The sky
in its abstract sphere, unfurls. God exists
as the Nothing who refuses to reply. Today I have to practice
how to breathe.
- From Raveling by Anne Shaw; full poem at VINYL POETRY.
Made by Hand / No 5 The Bike Maker (by Made by Hand)
Powerful. Thoughts on the nature of craft, true calling and the requisite investment of time. All resonant themes for me right now.
I’ve pretty much been a fairweather cyclist until now. Had an old mountain bike that saw a bit of service one hot summer but otherwise sat in storage for most of the year. Earlier this month, I bought this Specalized frame, second hand from a (aka THE) bike shop in Lewisham. It was a completely different ride from any bike I’ve ever owned, and came with a history— the guy who sold it recounted riding from Hoxton to Lewisham, half drunk, in the middle of the night. And now, I’m smitten.
Maker Day: five minute collage via Moldiv on the iPad.
Been a little frustrated with things getting in the way of the output, recently. People to consult, opinions to survey, forms to fill, feelings to massage, to-do lists to assuage, schedules to plan— all the stuff that cries for attention before you can actually do anything.
One of the joys of being creative is exactly that: making stuff. Following a whim, chasing the tail of a dream to see where it leads, sloughing off the tyranny of “getting it right” and instead just getting it any which way you can.
Above, a montage, pulled together from a few different graphic novels I’ve been poring over lately (The Manhattan Project, Think Tank, both via Image Comics). It’s not pretty. It’s not perfect, but it’s something.
Maker Day: 1; Resistance: 0
Gingerhaze, via The Hawkeye Initiative
“Created in December of 2012, The Hawkeye Initiative uses Clint Barton as well as other male comic characters to illustrate how contorted and hyper-sexualized women are commonly drawn in comics.”
I’ve never out and out declared how much of a comic geek I was (and still, to a certain extent, am). Love this initiative.
I promise to be better about promoting my own gigs before they happen. (Repeat x 50) (at National Portrait Gallery - Lost Prince)
“We know this, somewhere in our hearts, that there is a deep need to create, and help others create…”
I’m thinking of that moment a young upcoming artist, in a conversation about work, spoke of teaching/facilitating/mentoring from a disdainful stance, as if it weren’t real work. That irked me for a long, long time. A strong artist doesn’t necessarily make for the best facilitator. And although there’s a long-standing model of poets working as teachers and educators, not everyone wants to teach. Indeed, there’s something to be said for earning a living beyond your art, of making sure you stay connected with and alive to a world beyond the classroom, beyond the everyday endeavour of making words work. But we all have something to learn. And I’ve learned so much from the young poets and students I’ve worked with. I’d like to think that there’s a decent body of people, young and not-so-young, who’ve gained something valuable from the time they’ve spent working with me.
My work is about making things, about changing perspectives, about building bridges between disparate ideas and states of being, about alchemy, transforming things. Part of that work happens on a stage, or through the pages of collections and anthologies. Part of that work happens in school rooms and workshop spaces, transforming the silences in people’s mouths to things that need to be said, or rather helping those people to find their own brand of alchemy, so that they can do these things for themselves. They’re different forms of work— the stage more focused on the individual “I” (even if only as a conduit for a poetry that can be claimed by the listener), the workshop/class necessarily less so— but, for me, they stem from the same root. A poetry capable of affecting real change. Yes.
Poet K. Parkins-Brown @ BAR
You want to say the bell to a trumpet. A hollow sound. The sound of
whole. Whole as a loaf of bread, and the hungry sound that echoes.
A sound thin as water? Or deep, deep as the echo of the womb
where the one you thought you would raise was gone, unexpectedly
on a night of hard rain, when she knelt in the bathroom, the thumb-sized
bloody loss. How many years ago you cannot count except
with your thumbs.
A thumb-sized sound.
That small. That full of losing. How large it grows. And you are lost in the
forest of what did not happen,
searching for the way back to before, but the black birds have swallowed
all of the crumbs.
Sean Thomas Dougherty— Sonogram
I’ve loved Sean’s work for a long time now, about as long as I’ve self-identified as a poet. Here, find an extract of Sonogram. Follow the link for more. If this is indicative of a body of new work forthcoming, I’m excited. Very excited.
Alvin Pang @ Woolfson & Tay
Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to learn from anyone else. Always, the balance between your own vision and the wisdom of others who’ve already trodden similar paths. Consider Bruce Lee’s model: take instruction from masters so you can forge your own way…
Working Man @ Fix Whitecross Street
“I was looking for Baudelaire’s grave and we met this Frenchman and he said, “Are you looking for Jim…”
Maggie Dubris, interviewed by Ali Liebegott for Believer Mag
This resonates. I was recently asked, by a host just before a gig, if I could have any long-dead poet in the audience, who it would be. Response? I blanked. Completely. Brain scrabbled for an answer and offered up Langston Hughes. It was a nice question to be asked: unexpected, challenging in the best way. Kept me on my toes.