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.
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.
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.
What a joy to cycle past some Actual Athletes this morning on route to meeting you at Glasgow Green, making my way past New Zealand, then Rwanda, then Kenya at a street corner.
When I arrived I saw you were there already. You were in bunches and clusters, stringing yourselves with umbrellas and zipped valuables across a barrier ready to catch sight of a cyclist, chased by a car.
I saw how the most of you were waiting, but I also knew you were waiting with purpose, and the only queue that you formed found itself moving quickly into the mouth of Glasgow Green.
I squeezed my way through the thick of you handing out these little poetry gifts,” just a few lines of poetry on a counter number ticket, for you to read while you wait?” and most accepted the gift with curious concern, some with a look of utter disgust, some surprised and grateful – what is it? poetry? what? what do I have to do? oh, thank you – or bluntly, ah, no. N O.
As Tawona was told, “no, watching the bikes is the only poetry I need right now.” Which is poetry in itself.
And then one of you followed me to query what on earth I had given you–”is it poetry you are handing out?” and when I said, “yes, and I’ve one to share if you’d like,” you brought me back to where you waited with your wife, Dawn, and I had a chance to speak some images and gently draw some sounds while you smiled.
And then, Dear Punter who streams past us at the SECC and who finds themselves hurried along and hassled by vocal instruction wherever you go, attempting to become a Spectator- you take time to buy a drink or a snack and ask me if you can have whatever it is I am handing out. Thanks for letting me recite my favourite Dr Suess with your daughter.
Dear Punter who tells me that oh no, you are too stressed for poetry, I understand.
Dear Punter who tells me that you are not that deep, I have shallow poems just for you but something tells me you don’t really need them when you share your four favourite lines back to me, grooves of philosophy. Thanks for hearing me out and I like hearing your reply.
Dear Punter who tells me that you hate poets. Be civil. Hate is a strong word. Who did that to you?
Dear Punter who has a sense of humour. You make the world go round.
Dear Punter who asks me if it is free, my words to you are a gift. They are my truth right now. May they resonate with yours. You can’t eat them but you can sustain yourself on your own imagination. Finance minister Giulio Tremonti was quoted as saying, “You can’t eat culture.” To which I reply, Eat My Money. Money, like creativity, is a form of value and exchange. It is only our connections to each other and the fact we can exchange it for something else that make it mean something, be it food or food for thought.
Dear Punter who stood and listened, was relieved to see the queue move after I’ve shared the line, “I was a wrinkle that grew younger / with every stumble on a ‘why'” – thanks for inspiring us to chat about the Japanese term, wasi-sabi (beauty in decay) and the fixation the West has with respecting youth more than age.
Thanks for sparking a conversation with Tawona about how Elders (in Zimbabwe) are respected for their age, that there is beauty in wisdom, wrinkles are a sign of widsom . The saying, “I’ve already been to the field” meaning that where there are two crops that look the same (Moonga & ipwa) – that the older you are the more you know the difference without having to break one off and chew on it. Experience has taught you to know one weed from another harvest. In the West, those who have already been to the field are sent so often with a sigh of impatience rather than an awed appreciation.
Dear Punter, without you out there none of this would be even an idea. See you tomorrow.
PS- I can only hope one day to be that dancing Grandmother I just saw along Arygle St outside St Enoch shopping centre, jiving along to hip hop, with someone half her height, within the natural stage that the gathered crowd had created with their attentive semi-circle. Always wonder. We must always wonder why. And it is never too late to dance.