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:


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:



“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.