I made sure my keys could scratch the sky

What is winning anyway? About to participate in the BBC Fringe Slam. I really don’t like poetry competitions, but I really do like the opportunity to share with and connect to an audience. I am not so sure poetry fits the idea of a Gladiator, one we watch in an arena to spy our might (what we might be, what muscle we might have, what fierce warrior there is in us)…to see them wrestle with great and grand ideas and kill every other poet off with their mighty brilliance. I am not sure poetry breathes best when rallied into a ring like a sport in which we feel inspired pitting poem against poem, performer against performer. Most of the ‘slams’ I have been to seem to be less about the ideas or craft of the writing and more about what can immediately make an impression with clarity and ease: either a rabble-rouser or a comic piece will usually do the trick and fly past into a ‘final’. 
We compete too much, with compare too much: one facebook scroll and we feel ourselves tightening. Having said all that, I can’t wait to speak up. I enjoy connecting with people. And I am grateful for the opportunity…and that there is actually a venue like the ‘Pink Bubble’ in which inspiring and inspired people will congregate in the name of poetry, or take a peek in the name of curiosity. 
 
before I left…
 
“I checked the oven was locked,
I made sure my keys could scratch the sky
I knew my wallet was switched on
and all the perishables told why
they wouldn’t last…”
 
 
 
 

Re-boot the wonder, kick-start another ‘why’? Post-project poem

 

 

photo (1)

 

I love this poem – it made me question why we try, train, forge a path and hitch ourselves so beautifully to a purpose. Now that the project is over – and I am tucking mountains of paper-work into recycling, attempting to file away an experience, shelving the past, carving tomorrow into my aspirations – I am slumping slightly into that familiar groove  within which you need to reflect and (well, in this case) write an acquittal. Reflect and respond. Re-boot the wonder, kick start another why and fly onto the next page.

In all the work we’ve done it is easy to forget that you seldom know the ripples your tiny actions can roll along…and like a butterfly kiss between two cheeks – close, blind and smiling – the lashes can stoke some flame.

 

Les Murray’s little gift of a poem above inspired this video response, on the nature of winning:

https://vimeo.com/93245873

We dig our heels into a photograph

 

 

The ephemeral poet squinting to etch this experience into memory…

and the somewhat tangible, queue-ticket printed-poetry souvenir:

20140804-191108-69068830.jpg

 

“peeling layers of ochre, rust and bone dust

from an unlikely blue

blinking beauty in the face

stumbling, grateful, captivated”

 

Stadium Dismount – the tail end of a queue into Glasgow Green

Final day and we are at Glasgow Green. Working with those lining up to be let in at 7pm – for the final send off- and draping myself over a queue barrier met many shorter spectators who had fun pulling poetry off a perforation, and telling me what they thought of what they read there.

I met so many wonderful folk in this project’s installation, I am grateful for all those who said yes, and made me smile with their responses, and all those who said no, were honest and disinterested, and didn’t just meet me with the lie of a polite silent suffering. I met two at the head of the queue who reminded me that a bucket list is for those who want to take their life, and kick a bucket, and that the list should be one of FIRSTS, of number ONE’s- that you want to tick off, not a collection of experiences to do before you die.

I carried a gentleman’s empty IRN BRU cans to somewhere else so his queue experience could be less encumbered, and I thought, yes this is what it is for, connection  – it is to remind you that not everything is a sale.

I met Marie in-queue. Marie is all green, open, smiling eyes framed by a calypso green collar, an olive green leather jacket. After spinning the lines about being able to open any chocked dark door with the blink of a hurricane eye, and being a wrinkle that grew younger with every stumble on a ‘why’ – she shared with me her own favourites. Edwin Morgan and the fog pawing at the men beside the green – “meth men mutter on benches, pawed by the river fog”…and how amazing it was to be at school at Charlottes , right beside this queue as we trudge along, and read poems about the Green right alongside a classroom. Or Duke St , just up the road, my favourite being the line about the ambulance:

“only the hungry ambulance

hows for him through the staring squares”

I think I’m off now, post-project, queues poeticised to the best of my ability, to settle and sleep, “longing  / longing  / shall find its wine…”

till next we can meet poetry in person, in a waiting time.

 

 

 

Puddle-struck poetry – pull on a perforation to take your ticket

Saturday 2nd August Day 11 Comm Games Q-Poetics Glasgow

Shared with those in waiting at SECC today- and then cycled to Central Station where I watched queues flow in and snake past, until they were held before passing onto the platform for a few minutes at a time. We decided to head here instead of Hampden, where the queues strode past on route to security, rather than lining up and losing any will to live. Sometimes getting somewhere is the gripe.

Again, folk were so keen to make sure the punters had a decent time of it- handing out free ponchos to anyone who didn’t seem to have wet weather gear, and smiles pouring out from hi-vis.

I met a few clusters of folk on route and left them with a little counter number ticket in which we are all number ONE.

 

“you could open any chocked dark door with the blink of a hurricane eye”

 

Friday 1st August @ Commonwealth Games 2014 – Day 10

We were struck by Efficiency- the incredible one-way tidal flow of spectators snaking their way into Hampden, having walked in droves from Mount Florida station, being funnelled into barriers and then their airport-style security queues, out of reach of my Q-Poet permissions. 

I spoke to those waiting, as those who wait qualify for a gift in these line ups- and I met the man from Australia who had followed his daughter around for 5 years or more, with his wife- his daughter being the recent GOLD winner for Javelin.

As he draped me in the Aussie flag I didn’t know what to feel. There are so many flags on sale here in Glasgow this past two weeks, and so many more on display, what is one more flag? What I have enjoyed about the city’s boastful flag-fest is that the flag itself has become more fabric than a set of barriers to understanding, the flag has become more of a symbol of fun than fanaticism.

One young lady perched above the new arrivals in her Tennis-umpire podium throne, broadcasting queue instructions on the megaphone , read out the little scrap I’d handed her- an extract, “You could open any chocked dark door / with the blink of a hurricane eye,” saying, “this is for my admirers”. 

There are so many barked directives to those lining up, or those arriving, that sharing a poem would not reduce queue-induced tension but simply add to it, if it is in any voiced form. 

I have come to see though that the strength of this kind of work is in the quality of the interaction you have with folk, and the image  you speak and share, not the quantity of people you impose yourself upon. 

You don’t know sometimes the ripples your tiny little action can roll along…and like a butterfly kiss between two cheeks – close, blind and smiling – the lashes can stoke some flame.

 

 

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