Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Greedy - A Photo-em

Tea Pot

I am kettle-crept,

from the blackness of sweaty heat

and sweet tea.

New genre-defying poem is born - Hello Photo-em!

Performance poetry has been my bag, of late. Now, that's on odd phrase to use. My bag. I could have said my passion, my interest, my obsession. But I didn't. I'll let you dwell on what that choice means for a moment -

- and so, back to the point. Performance poetry has been my bag, of late. Now, that really is an odd phrase. Is poetry a receptacle for the various essential and non-essential knick knacks (and Nik Naks, yum!) of my life? Perhaps.... Now, this is getting into a poem. Here goes...

Do I carry it around with me,
a heavy weight across my shoulders?


I carry it with me everywhere,
it slinks into my thoughts,
dropping casual items of clothing
as it bares itself to me, filling rooms
with traces of rough scent
and leaving my bedsheets tussled and messy,
it leafs through my bookshelves,
delving into volumes and slim tomes
with glancing interest, leaving torn
bits of flyer as page marks, but never
bending the corners over, Heaven help
what mother would say if she saw.

Do I carry poetry around with me?

I feel its eyes flicker with intensity
in surreal situations; glaring
in remonstration in minutes hours days moments
of neglect; opening and closing with langour
in my most delirious dreams, trembling
cycloptic visions doubling and tripling
in insane stretches of retina, sight-bending
light-wending heaven-gifted fervour
of foresight, fever
of foresight, ferment
of foresight; dulling and glazing
as they cease seeking outside stimulation,
swivelling inwards, to the swirling numinous
vortigo of inner lights;
do I carry poetry around with me?

Do I carry poetry around with me?

I feel it shift and stir with pleasure,
haunches on a cat's silken back,
when it feels the sound of perfection,
although perfection is imperfect,
and each imperfection perfects the perfect
perfectly. Mmm. I feel it strain and arch,
taut muscles, balancing and testing the air
stroking its form, particles preening
its soft folds of skin at the scruff of its neck,
craning in the direction of love and attention,
too arrogant to mention its self-absorbed sway
of foot slinking foot slinking foot slinking foot.
I feel it leap and explode from potential
to kinetic in frenetic expulsion of lyrical compulsion.
I feel it.

Do I carry poetry around with me?

Do I carry poetry around with me?

Heck, I am poetry.

So. Performance Poetry has been my bag, of late. Or rather, I have been my bag of late, if a literal interpretation of that interluding poem is proven.

But, in a recent foray into London, which took in the many glorious sights of the city (Okay, really we just stood and gawped at the entrance to Number 10, or tried to, but 12 was the only doorframe in our line of sight. My sister, Sophie "The Snipes" Ellis, was most disappointed she didn't get a chance to test out her new toy) I had a spare half an hour on a railway platform. I had a camera for entertainment. So I made so made some Photo-ems (for want of a better word. Yes, I could have just said Photo Poems, or Picture Poems, but where's the fun in that?) Here's the progeny of that particular photo-em shoot. I can only put the first one up in this blog post, but have no fear, there are plenty to follow.

It was actually quite an absorbing task, and made me look at items in the vicinity with a completely different perspective. I wasn't reading the billboards in boredom, I was looking at them with words in mind, searching for single words that sounded and looked good, or short clusters of words that once taken out of context became more interesting. So for example where "New customers only" begins the boring sentence of a bank's billboard, it actually has a new life as quite a sinister phrase in the photo poem - sorry, photo-em - I used it in. (I'll post that poem in a blog post later.)

An oddly satisfying part of the process was noting - and refreshingly, feeling a complete indifference to - the assorted, confused looks of consternation and amusement from other passengers and those waiting on the platform alongside me. It must have seemed as if I'd taken leave of my senses, wandering in a daze about the platform, photographing close-ups of railway signs, train information and station notifications, museum adverts and vending machines.

Once on the train, I almost felt the need to explain myself to one poor lady sitting opposite me, a woman of at least fifty, perhaps on the way into London to visit a friend or relation, on a day trip, dressed in a sensible coat and a vaguely anxious expression. Or perhaps that was my doing. She even took a photograph herself, with a disposable camera, through the carriage window, as we streamed along the route to Waterloo. Perhaps this photo-em compulsion is catching.

Here's the first photo-em. I've come with a few titles just now, although I think I'd actually prefer not to give titles, as these impose an interpretation that wasn't there when I snapped the photo-ems.

Hey, maybe that could be a new feature of my blog - each week I come up with a photo-em, and ask for suggestions from readers. Like a caption competition, but not. Right, done. I'll do it.

In the meanwhile, read my poem below (either with or without the context of these imposed titles: "If Pygmalion was a Simpson Character" or "Golden Touch"). How about simply, location and date? Much better.

My First Ever Photo-em:

Esher Station on 30th March

Friday, 5 March 2010

Performance Poetry Boosts Red Wine Purchase Patterns (Allegedly)

Fine, I admit, I have carried out absolutely NO research with which to support such a statement. But did it get your attention? Hell yeah!

I'm casting my poetry's net out across the 'net - now I'll be appropriating your aural interaction with the world wide web as well as your visual. Bet you're a little bit frightened now, aren't you? Good. That means that you're following attentively...

So, check out the first couple of poems up on my myspace profile:

Excellent. Now all you need is a small, poky (smoky?) cafe with a sea of drifting tea lights and a drink in hand, preferably a gin and tonic, (or is whisky more appropriate?) or even - like Allen Ginsberg's legendary night Six Poets at Six Gallery in 1955, vast quantities of cheap red wine.

Pass the big green bottle down the line, will you?

Funny People

(The title track of Barbra Streisand's film Funny Girl is the basis for this poem's opening line. This is probably the first poem that I ever wrote with performance in the back of my mind, and I usually sing the first stanza...)

People who need people,
Are – not – the luckiest people in the world,
But funny boys and girls at a loss.

Like the lamppost, in a line with
Other lampposts,
The one that flickers in
And out of
Or is that strange orange colour,
That otherworldly glow
that is just different enough
From the normal, piercing, yellow blaze
To not be the same.

That lamppost knows
That it is weird,
That within its mass manufactured –
Perspex as standard,
only one nine nine five today, sir,
only one nine nine five
Perspex fitted lamp casing –
There run currents outside of Ampere’s control.
That flow and fold over one another
And repeat and bend and bash
And repeat and bend and bash and batter
Inside identical steel walls.
“Get out... GET OUT.”

That lamppost knows that it is different.
That these impulses triggered and dancing,
These erratic lightning flashes
These magenta manifestations
None of the other lampposts spit out...
Their songs are regular and cordant
With one another
And the lamppost so craves their company.
Instead, it takes solace in the birds
That flit and flicker above it.
But even they are startled by
Irregular outbursts of clementines cascading to the floor in a dusty pink river of confetti.

The lamppost’s dream is that one day,
Someone will come along
To catch those clementines in a basket and peel them with juicy relish,
shower the lamppost with its own confetti in celebration of such splendour,
Funnel the pink paper into fountains to flow out of Cupid’s arrows,
They fall
On the
Picked up by the wind and
Dropped into neighbouring fields and hedgerows,
Where once more they startle the birds
Out of distant reverie.

The lamppost watches them disappear,
And sees that once more, filling the wasteland
Between it
And the other lampposts,
After its bright exchange of words and light,
The only place to hide in, is