Child Escaping

June 28, 2008

Mostly I’m fine. But then
someone says your name,
asks me how I am, without you,
in the flat – and I break as easy
as hard chalk
dropped on flagstones,
weakened glass, pressed.

Last night, I met a guy – tight curls
like massed particles of sleek darkness-
who talked about a French theory
for being in the world where
places that are new
may unfold like open grass,
where one may walk easy,
straight backed, free from fear
and with one’s inner child –
wide eyed and ever curious,
never anxious, hopeful in the world.

But what if
the child you used to be
was never like that?

What if
you closed them in a room,
because you had no choice?

Damien, take note.

September 10, 2007

Doing a spot of blog browsing just found this wicked poem (Damien, read it and take note, you will never take me alive!)

It’s by Karen McCarthy, whom though I don’t know much about, I heard of through Malika Booker. Went to see Malika do ‘Unplanned’ earlier this year (just after the Freedom trial) and narrowly missed the special ‘Malika with friends’ version of the show. Had really wanted to make that evening ’cause Jean was performing too. Anyway, you’ve probably guessed by now but K.M was also one of the influencing friends I missed. It said she had a blog on the (missed) event marketing. I occasionally visit. By way of taunting myself.

Worst Wolf

September 8, 2007

You’d call me a beluga whale.
My own worst whale of beluga
But I still remember the wolf.
The pin bright day.The sugar paper wolf.
I made it. I made it from the
dark parts of wretchedness.
I put in the alleyway
so it could see the blue, black bags,
so it could see the rubbish and the hunger
so it could live with teeth and fur.
I am my own worst whale of beluga.
I am my own worst wolf of beluga.
I am a thing that’s made from breath and paper.
I’m ragged.

Coordinator or Creator

August 28, 2007

Earlier this evening, a phonecall from a good poet friend of mine.

“Hey Lydia, how’s it going?”
“Oh, hey, cool thanks, busy but good”
“blah blah blah”
“blah blah blah”
“So, Lydia, you had any gigs since the Showcase?”
“…er. No.”
“…have you?”
“well, yeah, a couple, I guess”

(I would at this point like to make absolutely clear that the poet in question, is a lovely person, beyond reproach and entirely incapable of malice.)

“Wish I hadn’t asked now.”
“No, it’s fine…I guess I’ve just been so busy…I haven’t really been focusing on that..”

And that’s where I’m going with this.

Lately, it’s not like I’ve been idle. No. Far from it. Since The Freedom Showcase, I don’t really feel like I’ve stopped. At the moment I’m in the middle of 3 or 4 major funding applications (for arts in mental health projects) whilst running around laying the ground work for numerous others. I’m organising a raft of things for World Mental Health Day…Ladyfest…National Poetry Day…and the emails keep on coming.

But not to offer me gigs. And that’s the issue.

One moment, I’m the creator of things-writing, performing…the next moment, I’ve become the coordinator. The one people call upon to set things up, devise, apply, organise. I’ve suddenly become the bridemaid.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love my job…and I am afterall the Creative Arts Coordinator for a large NHS Trust (to be read with a suitable degree of self effacing irony;)-so, da, if I wasn’t coordinating stuff, I’d be in trouble…it’s just, well, when I came into post I thought I had a plan. It’s a part time position, so – Lydia – I said – Lydia, half the week coordinating, half the week creating. Only somehow, that appears to have slipped. The coordinating week seems to bleed into the space I’d made for my own creativity. And there’s only so much space. While I’m writing funding applications and emails, I’m not writing poems. I’m not wandering round the house reading my poems. I’m not even singing in the bath.

All this leads me to ask the question: is it possible to be the creator, if you’re also the coordinator?

I know, I know, designing projects, making stuff happen, it’s a creative business – but it’s not writing poetry is it? And I know, I know, nowadays, being an artist is not just about doing the art. Even high profile artist, generally, don’t pay the rent on gigs alone. They do workshops. They do lecturing. The really entrepreneurial ones go out and set up their own god damn projects. Being an artist is a complicated business.

I reckon I’m my own worst enemy. I like making things happen. I don’t like waiting for other people to. In some ways I guess that’s good. I’m proud of things that I’ve got going because of that. But, still, balance is balance. Maybe you can do both…but I reckon if you’re going to try, you’ve really got to keep your eye on both balls. The arms that are tossing them up are made of muscle, if you keep on favouring one, then the other’s going to get weak, and then the ball is going to fall…still with me?

…Anyway, whatever. Should anyone have a poetry gig for me, you know where I am, yeah? In the words of  Ivory Fishbone,  universe, are you listening…?

The family that always sees calico.
Climb for me.
Quiet is almost more cunning
Who could have the sense
Who could have the grace
Who could know
Drink fish full leap
They ate her cat.

The Family That Always Saw Calico

The family that always saw calico
They ate her cat.
They waited till it’s owner was out
the woman next door,
who didn’t believe in neutering pets
and so who had a pack, a tribe, a troop
a gang, roaming through her house,
they waited till that woman was out
and then, with grins like knives,
cut out curves of juicy melon,
magic markered wicked murders,
rasberry coloured toothy smiles – then
they coaxed the kitty in their house.
And the family that always saw calico,
they really hated cats.
Cats who like to play with calico.
Cats who like to shred with energy –
no respect for thought and planning,
no respect for curtain linings,
cushion covers, table finery –
the family that always saw calico,
they coaxed it through their door
they led it down the hall,
they saw calico.
They ate her cat.

Jesus’ Girlfriend

May 15, 2007

One more thing about last night. As I said in the post below, I freestyled for the first time! Was very buzzy. It’s a high risk thing to do – if it goes well that’s great-but if not…there is the dying in front of your peers to consider! Saying that, at a night like yesterdays every knows that – so no one would take the piss anyway. Below is my attempt to remember what my freestyled poem was. It’s quite a bit different as I can’t remember the exact words, but it was kind of like this…

Words: Enchiladas, Donkey, Traveling, Energy, Food.

Jesus’ Girlfriend.

I like food
but I don’t like enchiladas.
They’re too spicy for me.
They drain all my energy
and I don’t travel well
when I eat them.

Donkeys hate me
and horses too
they always have
I have to take the bus,
’cause when it comes to donkeys
I just can’t trust-

I think it’s their Sombreros.
You should never trust a creature
that looks like it could eat a
spicy enchilada.
No – I don’t like donkeys
and donkey’s don’t like me-

if I was with Jesus…
I don’t think it would work.

So, if you’ve read the previous post, you may be wondering where it came from. This is where ….

Last night I went to what was best poetry night I’ve been to in ages. A brand new night, run by the lovely Sureshot and Mr Finn, it was like going back to the roots of boheamian poetry. It was many of the new wave poets on the scene at the moment, gathering together to read poetry to each other – and to anyone else who was around to listen. It was set to happen every Monday.

Called the 5th Quarter (a great name don’t you think?) this wasn’t like your average open mic night. No names were taken and the floor was completely open, leaving people to just get up and speak when they were ready. The atmosphere was so gentle and supportive, that it was easy to feel relaxed and encouraged.

The very talented poets who’d turned out, set about with a poem at a turn. There were no rules but that’s how it panned out. However, after a few of us had done our thing, Mr Finn got up and gently coaxed those who had performed, to freestyle on the mic. The challenge was to use words thrown up by the audiance. Though sometimes a nerve racking experience, again the atmosphere was so supportive it was made easy.

So, lets backtrack a moment….this post isn’t sounding very much like its title is it? Lets include a bit more detail…

I did my tit’s poem. Then I freestyled. The word ‘fucked’ and then ‘fuck’ might have popped out. It’s hard to censor yourself mid flow…especially when you’re having such a fab night of boho loveliness, as to make censoring seem like a ludicrous concept. However….

After my tits poem and after my ‘fuck’ freestyling (though there were MANY other words in this piece!) I went back to the bar to get myself and another poet a drink. The words Stella and Gin had barely escaped my lips when the bar manger started laying into me.

‘We don’t want that sort of thing!…you were TOLD not to!…people don’t want to hear it!…I’ve had complaints!…people have left!…people are EATING!’

Standing in the middle of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, fresh from the warm acceptance and creativity of the poets, I obviously assumed she was joking. Only…she didn’t appear to be smiling. I waited a moment. Still no smiling. Oh dear.

So, it felt quite personal (probably because it was) and I’m afraid I lost my temper. For one thing, I’d never met the woman in my life, so the concept of having been “told” was hardly fair and the aggressiveness from nowhere was just rude. Customer Service. Whatever happened to Customer Service? or even basic people skills? So, yes, I’m afraid after my initial polite response met with the same bile, I’m afraid I lost my temper.

She was VERY horrible, but I probably shouldn’t have told her that to be perfectly frank I couldn’t give a FUCK what she thought. It was at that point she decided to change her mind about serving me. Shortly after I left….before I did something (like talk to her again) that would get me thrown out. other poets had been free-styling with the words condom and cannabis. As I left, Sureshot was being ranted at.

What really rankled was the bigoted lack of understanding. Poetry does not have to contain expletives. Or talk sex, violence, drugs etc…but it’s worth remembering that such material has a rich history going back to the early 16th century and encompassing everyone from Shakespeare to Larkin. Early spoken word literature was often about really engaging people in taverns and market places. People clustered around poets and playwrights who were spitting lyrics, that really reflected the society people saw around them. Of course, much of Shakespeare’s work WAS censored in it’s day-by the elite classes-and there are countless other examples of the same happening to other writers through history…Lady Chatterly’s Lover was hardly a million years ago and we all know how that turned out.

So, perhaps Miss Bar Manager does understand her poetry. Perhaps she does get how it’s worked before and has simply alligned herself on the opressives side. What’s sad though, is that the space between what she wanted – and what live literature is about – is fairly insummoutable.

Fresh from a previous week of Jazz entertainment, she (it appears) wanted something unobtrusive, less content, more background noise. Something her diners didn’t have to listen to. Kind of like the poetry equivalent to muzak. Nothing challenging. Of course, poetry isn’t like muzak. It’s made to be listened to and concentrated on. It’s not made to be talked over. Seeing as the diners were a long way off down the bar, I was thinking – if they don’t want to come closer and actually listen, far enough, live and let live. Obviously not.

Initially, this was actually a very distressing experience. No one likes to have their work rejected as puerile and thoughtless-especially when alot of work has been put into its crafting. This morning though, I’m feeling a bit better about it all. I can now introduce Get Your Tits Out as the poem that cleared a bar, got me refused service and nearly thrown out for disruptive behaviour. Rock n Roll. It can only help my rep as angry young woman 😉

One last thought though. I can only hope that the 5th Quarter somehow lives on. Maybe with a different name-but somehow it must. It’s too wonderful a night to lose. If you live locally and want to come down to it, watch this space…I’ll let you know when I do…


April 14, 2007

In Autumn
and in Winter
and on all those
freezing nights of Spring,
when nights still come with fog
descending like a
deconstructed woolen blanket.
When there is
hazy light from moon
turning darkened rooms
to silver-I always think
of IT:

I imagine Steven King’s
Evil Clown in my bed.
curved beneath the covers
like a child but furrowed
with malice and murder
and hate.

I imagine him
in my room
while I’m asleep,
smothering me –
red gash grin
parted over
razored yellow teeth

I always worry
he’ll be waiting in my dreams.
that IT will happen-
in a fashion-
’cause I have
laid the patterns out
and sank their brainwaves
into REM release.

But I never dream of IT.
I only ever see my friends-

hating me,
or leaving me,
or dieing.

Night Riding

April 7, 2007

There’s something about
getting out of bed
in the middle of the night,
at a time when
everyone else in the house,
the block, the street,
the city, the world-
is sleeping.
There’s something about
being the only one awake,
sitting up late, at an hour
so broken down
it’s slipped beyond the zone
in which it could have been
repaired. There’s something about
that conjuring out
of nightworkers-
that you have always done
in that small box
inside your head –
ever since you were a child
and trying to find
some way of coping
with the world being dead-
there’s just something about
all this
that makes you think
of all the brittle shards
of all the broken things,
that you were hoping that you’d
never have to see,
that when you were a child
you hummed to keep away –
that daylight makes so quiet-
that’s stupid as the
artexed ceiling-
as star gazing plaster
at 2 and 3 and 6.
like weather and rainbows
and cancer
that can’t go on much longer.

Come the Revolution

March 31, 2007

Come the Revolution,
only the mad will survive
with their decades of training,

intensive confined
and used to the most
trying of circumstance,

the most limited of space
the mad with their
mad house training

will win the day.
Come the revolution
only the mad will survive

coz they’ve been getting the link
between diet, exercise
and world domination.

With their superfit regimes
of serotonined motion,
their regular meals

and omega 3
and lifting weights
to beat the shakes

at lifes dissapointments.
When the cities start to burn
and the towers start to collapse

It’ll be the
whippet lean mad,
vaulting over bannisters

and getting safely out.
Come the revolution
only the mad will survive.

Practiced in-
occupational therapy,
horticulture, meal cookery

art and design
it will be the mad
who are able

to make their own food,
paint their own shelters
and generally thrive.

Come the revolution
the mad will survive.
Everyone else

will go
quite mad
far too attached

to a status of fine-
it’ll be pencils up the noses
and pants on the head

but the actual mad
will be living like kings.
The madman in his bedroom,

the mad girl in her loft
they’ve been planning for collapse-
since the 911 bombs.

Come the Revolution
they’ll be ready for it
They’ll be there with their

and their whistles
and whirly gigs.

Come the Revolution
when the world goes mad
The mad will be saying:

we told you this would happen
you told us we were mad.
Come the revolution

Paranoia will be insight,
delusions of grandeur
will be-

quite justified.
Come the revolution
the sane will go mad

the nurses will be raving
the doctors need sedating-
And the mad?

Come the Revolution
the mad
will survive.