Postcard

August 20, 2007

It’s a beach
and I can see the grain of the sand
through the paper,
and the sea is encroaching
onto the sand – lines of blue,
like the dune’s being framed
by solid slithers of water;
like an artist
has been thinking out loud on the sand,
like it’s paper.
I am thinking of turtles.
I am thinking of turtles
because my friend Tim,
was talking about turtles,
turtles being born on the beach
and crawling on fins to the blueness.
The sea in this picture
is a ribbon of blueness.
The sky is in circles
of blueness.
I wish I was a turtle.
I want to fly into it.

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Freedom on the Park

August 2, 2007

To be honest, I reckon I’m still winding down a bit from the ol’ Freedom Case. In the process of winding down, I realised that (in the process of winding up) I never got round to posting up any of the pics I took of us Freedom fellas rehearsing in the park. Me, Nick King and Sureshot went down to Vicky Park a couple of weeks before the thing. This is what the devilishly charismatic guys looked like..

..nick-and-sureshot-eating.jpgsureshot-with-drum.jpg

nick-close-up-reading.jpg

From top to bottom: Nick and Sureshot, chilling with some pizza before the 3 of us kicked off….Sureshot on the drum….Nick King in full  swing….

So, the other day I dragged our poor, highly skilled film maker/production designer off to find a dress. Not just any old dress mind- THE dress – for Lizzy Heyrick to wear at the Freedom Showcase.

In retrospect, yes, I can now see what a shameful waste of resources this was. You’d have thought after 28 years I’d have had more than enough experience of shopping for clothing. But, y’know, just thought – two heads one, an all that…poor man.

Needless to say the costume shop I dragged him to was wildly inappropriate. Naturally we found nothing suitable, but the experience was still an interesting one.

The two, wildly implausible looking women did not immediately endear themselves to me. The slightly madder of the two (high theatre look with a tape measure looped around her neck) sized me up thus:

‘hmm..broad chest, long body, short legs’

..you know, I wouldn’t have put it quite like that – and I’d like at this point to make clear that I was wearing hipsters. I DON’T HAVE SHORT LEGS! It was just the angle…and the cut…hmph;/

Anyway, the things they found were quite hideous. too short to be long, too long to be short, scratchy, starchy, velvet dresses…or things bursting with pink underlayed lace and ridiculously high waisted…obviously, to compensate for my apparently, ludicrously long body.

It is perhaps a mark of the poor designer’s horror at his ‘shopping for dresses’ situation, that he seemed quite positive about most of them. When I declared that I would not be reserving any and instead wanted to leave and go look in Debenhams (3 hrs left to late night shopping!;) he may have actually blanched.

Don’t worry I let him and his baby go home.

I did however find the dress. Tucked away in a department store, it’s now one of the few things I own, not acquired from a thrift shop. It’s amazing. It’s long and black and simple and elegant and makes a swishy noise when I walk and I never want to take it off. I want to sit and watch crap TV in it and go down the shops in it and out on the town and off on my bike and maybe even to work-all wearing this amazing thing. But I still recognise that that would be silly. It’s hanging up in my bedroom at the moment. I think it may be talking to me in my sleep….

Chicken Ship

July 1, 2007

Once,
Long ago,
in a place
far, far away from here
I knew this girl-
who tried to
make a break for freedom-
by making herself small,
thin, inconsequential-
so tiny she’d be able
to slip through nets
and weave escape
like tuna.

That was the idea.

This girl,
she made her body narrow-
like a ship of sticks
and pitched herself
into the mint green water.
She set her head against the wind
and let her dry hair lift.
she folded up
her spindly arms,
her legs, her feet
like broken chicken wings,
but she forgot –

chicken cannot fly.
and chicken do not swim.

This girl she sank.
Misplaced maps
of calorie counters
and scales for weighing fish,
pills for di-eting
floating up like flotsam,
like the debris
from a wreckage.

This girl – sail like skin
stretched tight across
her skull and
crossed bones-
cracked and bleeding
like a crushed stone,
reeling from the impact-
belatedly
– this girl she got to thinking:

maybe this was not the way
to getting free.

June 18, 2007

This morning and back to the Abbey Pumping Station. I was…

Trailing Lizzy Heyrick
Promoting the Freedom Showcase and
Edu-taining 50 (yes, that’s 50) 11-13 year old, school children.

It went well. Obviously, I’d tried to imagine the worse…the kids would be little monsters, hell bent on not digging the performance and not being into the idea of writing poetry. And guess what? They were fine. More than fine in fact. Lovely. Oh, they were rowdy and loud and apparently even elicited a couple of complaints from older users of the museum (sigh) but the most important thing was that they were really into it all.

After my Freedom taster, the young whipper snappers did some pretty cool poetry – which they also confidently illustrated. I left out some wavy safety scissors, glue sticks and art materials, stuck up work from my other groups session and did a round of the room to mentor the poetry writing. When I came back – well, they’d made like genius sponges. They’d built on the example pieces and produced stuff I never would have believed that age group able to. My pastel collection will never be same, but the final results make their sacrifice worth it. Well, kind of;)

All 50 of the little mavericks dutifully took home a Freedom Flyer for their parents to peruse. I caught one little group gathered around such a said flyer, pointing at the photos and in the hushed tones of the unintended stage whisper, debate:

‘Is that her?’
‘No that’s not her.’
‘Is it though?’
‘I dunno.Not sure.’
‘I reckon it is you know’

Ah, fame at last;)

I’ll be pulling all the work produced by these budding Blake’s into an exhibition at the main Newalk Museum, later this year. The Museum service also seems to want me to do another session in October. So, must have gone well I guess:)

After the super kids left, MATV turned up to film the exhibition and then also me, reading the first part of my commission piece. Before you get excited, that’s MATV- NOT– MTV.  But be still my beating heart, we can still dream;)

Can’t get MATV on my set, so if anyone catches the broadcast let me know how it looks. These things are impossible to control…

All for now,

Lydia x

Mission Accomplished

June 9, 2007

So, another Secret Agent Artist mission, has been accomplished. Just got in from being Lizzy and doing poetry with kids at Leicester’s Abbey Pumping Station. All in all it was a groovy outing. Here’s what happened…

I put on my long, mauve coat and strutted my stuff across 3 Freedom Showcase extracts. There was a small crowd. There was a photographer. There were also a few local dignitaries…Lord Mayor, Local MP, all that jazz.

As its first public performance, it seemed to go down pretty well. Said local dignitaries have given firm commitments to attend on the main Showcase date, as have various others. Doing the extracts has also given me some ideas on areas to explore in it’s performance.

Then, there were the kids…

Do you know, I think I actually, really DO like kids. I know. Came as a bit of a shock to me too. But they’re alright. Better than adults really. They did some wicked poetry too. I’m going to be collating it over the next fortnight to create a display at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery. If you get a chance to go see, leave a comment in the comments book (that I’ll hopefully have remembered to put out!)

My favourite line came from little Steven and was in response to the exercise “What would happen if everyone in my class was chained together…”His poem began:

“All the girls would die first”

…He was only 11 and 11 year old boys are meant to hate girls, so I forgave him;)

So, it’s much later on in the day, somewhere towards the end of the afternoon.I’m sitting in Borders having coffee; considering buying poetry; writing this. Still feeling good about the weekend. As I said in my earlier post, what was great was getting to spend time with other writers and performers. But should you be interested, here’s what actually happened…

After the photo shoot bit was out the way, each poet got to perform their first draft and receive a critique from the group. Later in the day, Malika and Kevin took each poet off and gave one on one feedback.

The range of work demonstrated was very diverse. Ensemble rap and chorused refrains (the Blair brothers) cut against narrative pieces that introduced interesting characters, each struggling towards their own idea of freedom (I’m particulary thinking of Mr Jones here). A few people are playing with character monologues and then there are pieces (my own included) where there might well be potential for using other members of the cast.

While individuals were off getting feedback, the rest of us had the luxury of chilling out with a mini library of poetry, put together by Malika. As someone who’s current coffee and poetry book expenditure, could easily equate to the first down payment on a small house-this was a little dangerous (you know, what with the giving of ideas!) but I’ve now discovered some really wicked writers-not least, Kim Addonizio. If you ever get a chance – beg, borrow or steal, ‘Tell Me’. The stuff runs from monogue to philosophical ponderings on what it means to be alive and to have to get through days. She incorporates a strong vein of autobiography in her work, which for me really struck a cord. Work that is shot through with honesty, which is unflinchingly frank – and which crawls with the kind of language you want to scoop up in shells and swallow back-this is the kind of stuff I like to read and this is the kind of stuff I want to write.

Breaktimes were groovy, but I think it was probably my fault that we all started talking about male and female genitalia. What can I say? The Vagina Monologues were lying around and ever since first reading it, the subject has always fascinated me. Poets and sex. I dunno!

On the Sunday afternoon, Kevin led us in a group writing exercise. Working quickly on ripped up pieces of paper, each of 3 groups were helped to generate a shared poem, which was then presented to the whole. I worked with Sureshot and Spice (which made me want an exciting name too, but what’s to be done?) I was actually really pleased with the piece we came up with and the way we worked together to perform it. It was also nice to get to know Spice (Jo-Anne Blackwood) a bit more. She’s one of those beautifully put together woman with loads of energy and strong ideas. Also, kick ass style.

Hmm. Am I gushing again? I’m going to stop now anyway. Hopefully Spice’ll be emailing me and Sureshot the exercise piece we made. When I get it I’ll stick it up here.

Off to do some writing on another project now – kind of exploring gender and the body. I’ll be working on the pieces and as always, sticking them up here as works in progress…

Buzzing

May 7, 2007

God. Forget The Best Monday Morning Ever, this weekend was amazing. But I really didn’t think it would be. The plan: I would be spending 2 whole days, 11am to 6pm in Derby, working on the first drafts of my Freedom Showcase pieces. I’ll just say that again: Derby. My WHOLE weekend. No, it didn’t seem like a very promising prospect…and it’s always nice to be proved wrong.

I’m buzzing more bits than someone high on cocaine, wine and pringles. It was amazing-and I now see how incredibly churlish it was of me to object. After-all, what I didn’t mention, was that I would be spending 2 whole days receiving professional mentoring from the amazingly talented Malika Booker and Kevin Fagin-and that I would also get to be spending all that time with the rest of our cast-who sickening as this will sound, are just SO lovely.

It’s gone 12pm, Bank Holiday Monday and I’m lying about in bed. I spent all yesterday evening reading and writing…and all this morning reading and writing. I think I may have developed some kind of embarrassing crush on EVERYONE I properly met over the weekend-and I actually half wish I could have been getting up to go there again today.Our director is still a little bit scary-but that’s only because she’s so perfect. Yes, I know, I sound ridiculously, embarrassingly, shamefully sycophantic-but I can’t seem to help myself, it’s all just been so exciting.

The people I’m working with are just so fucking interesting….

I’ve talked to SureShot (one of the other poets) before, but it was only really at our final audition and then over this weekend, that I got to know him a bit more. Me and Nick King went with him in his little blue car, with the shaky floor and the jazz funk music. Turns out he knows everything about music, is a bit of vinal junkie, sometimes sings bits of his poems and has rapped large portions of the Book of Revelations. He used to live in London, has done poetry with the prisoners where he works and has strong feelings about the word Nigger. We had this great chat about how the word compared with Cunt, and it got me thinking about the relationship between feminist and anti racist arguments. Didn’t even mind our 2 hour wrong turning on Saturday night!

Nick King and Kevin Wallace write like angels. Oh dear…I actually want to do a run down of them and all the other writers too…only if I do, you’ll stop reading won’t you-or possibly won’t start reading because this blog post will look like a book. Hmm. How to continue waffling AND still keep you with me…I KNOW…I’ll start a new blog post after this one….!

New Draft

April 17, 2007

Hmmm…seems that last ‘fragment’ post ended up containing nearly enough to be the whole thing. This is the fresh version of it-I’ll carry on tweeking it in this post, so I don’t take out anything from the last I might need later…

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well,
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-never wanted fame;
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-
justice.

In the eyes of God all men are equal.
Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no –
fame? it never really
ever had a chance. We wanted-
freedom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name-
is Elizabeth,
Elizabeth Heyrick,
wife of John, John
who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction –

dead now.
He was old and I was young –
heart attack and me at only
26-but when he went
he let me go –
like a dove


Dear John,

It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

Hello – pleased to meet you.
My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick-wife of John
born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
yes?

William Wilberforce.
1769-1833.
Politician,
philanthropist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves-

William hated me. You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those manly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

Heyrick believed that women
were especially qualified
‘to plead
for the oppressed’

Well I rather think I did-
I guess I lacked a little patience
when it came to
woman being raped,
men in chains and
babies being sold
like they were slabs of meat.

I wanted it all to stop
immediately

William-
he wanted to take things
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves,
for now. But he
didn’t get the urgency. He’d
never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

*****
In the early 1820’s
Heyrick shocked those around her
By openly sympathizing
with the West Indies

slave revolts

and I’ll tell you something else I did.
Back home in Leicester
I went door to door
calling for a boycott
on slave grown sugar-

and I mobilized the woman-
the ones in the kitchens
buying the sugar
to fold in the puddings,
to stir in their husbands tea-

And they understood.
And they stopped buying it.

Are you listening to me?
I know I’m probably going on a bit
but I’ve been so cold
for quite some time…

Elizabeth Heyrick,
helped to form
the Birmingham Ladies’ Society
for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
The group would subsequently change its name
to the Female Society for Birmingham.

John,
when all was said and done
I did miss you-
it’s just,
for the first time
in nearly 30 years
I finally felt free.

In 1824
Elizabeth Heyrick
published her seminal work
Immediate not Gradual Abolition

It was in stark contrast
to the gradualistic position
of the mainstream society.

William
Do you remember what you did?
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William,
do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.

What were your words..?

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William-

when it came to woman
you really didn’t get us-
did you?

In 1830
Elizabeth Heyrick submitted a motion
to the National Conference of Wilberforce’s Society
She called for it to demand
a direct end to slavery.

Dear John,
we begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways-
but when they didn’t work
we pointed to the money.

Heyrick’s network was the 5th largest donor
to Willberforce’s Party

and when our 73 different cells
threatened to withdraw that funding-
William Wilberforce, had to take us
much more seriously.

In a time of male dominance,
Elizabeth Heyrick succeeded
in assuring the abolition of slavery.

But I never lived to see it.
the bill we pushed was passed
in 1833 – I died
in 31 –
just too early.

John,
I remember you-
but even back in Leicester
very few remember me

Hello out there-
had any of you even
heard of me..?

Google me.
Go on, Google me:
2 silhouettes,
4 photos of my pamphlet
and more pictures of Wilberforce
than you’ll find of me.

A woman is a woman is a woman
and no one even thought
to keep a drawing.

Still-
I never wanted fame.
We wanted Justice
We wanted Freedom
We wanted liberation.

And here we are
you and me-
free at last to speak

It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start…

-haven’t we?

Fragment 1

April 17, 2007

My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
Born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
yes?

William Wilberforce.
1769-1833.
Politician,
philanthropist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves-

William hated me. You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those
mannly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

Heyrick believed that women
were especially qualified
‘to plead

for the oppressed’

Well I rather think I did-
I guess I lacked a little patience
when it came to
female slaves being raped,
men in chains
and babies being sold
like slabs of meat.

I wanted it all to stop
immediately.

William-
whose official society
was boys only-he
wanted to take things
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves,
for now. ButHe
didn’t get the urgency.he’d
never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
he never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

*****
In the early 1820’s
Heyrick shocked those around her
By openly sympathizing
with the West Indian
slave revolts

and I’ll tell you something else I did
Back home in Leicester
I went door to door
calling for a boycott
on slave grown sugar-

and I mobilized the woman-
the ones in the kitchens
buying the sugar
to fold in the puddings
to stir in their husbands tea

And they understood.
And they stopped buying it.

Elizabeth Heyrick,
helped to form
the Birmingham Ladies’ Society
for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
The group would subsequently change its name
to the Female Society for Birmingham.


John,

when all was said and done
I did miss you-
it’s just,
for the first time
in nearly 30 years
I finally felt free.

In 1824
Elizabeth Heyrick
published her seminal work
Immediate not Gradual Abolition
It was in stark contrast
to the gradulistic stance

of the mainstream society

William-
Do you remember what you did?
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William,
do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.

What were your words..?

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William-

when it came to woman
you really didn’t get us-
did you?

in 1830
Elizabeth Heyrick submitted a motion
to the National Conference of Wilberforce’s Society
She called for it to demand
a direct end to slavery.

Dear John,
we begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways
all our feminine wiles-
but when they didn’t work
we pointed to the money.

Heyrick’s network was the 5th largest donor
to Williams Party

and when our 73 different cells
of Women Against Slavery
all threatened to withdraw that funding-
William Wilberforce, began to take us
much more seriously.

*********

In America,
Elizabeth Heyrick
Is sometimes remembered
as the first one to speak out
in favour of abolition..

Google me.
Go on, Google me:
2 siloettes,
4 photos of my pamphlet
and more pictures of Wilberforce
than you’ll find of me.

You won’t find my painting
Hanging in the British Library

I never wanted fame
but still, it’s strange
isn’t it?

*****

In a time of male dominance,
Elizabeth Heyrick
endeavored and succeeded
in assuring the abolition of slavery.

I never lived to see it.
the bill we pushed was passed
in 1833. I died
in 1831-
just too early.