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.
Hampden Park Stadium & the crowds are flowing fast and thick – it is quite a testament to the folk putting this whole day together that a epic flow of steady tidal humanity was able to pass through the queue barriers, and into the security check point without huge lines of silent impatience trailing around corners and up a hill.
I stood and watched for an hour as people walked steadily from Mount Florida station -up a hill and down a hill and around a corner, and made it past the dancing volunteers and the Venue reds, through the queue barriers as they were directed, past the police holding machine guns, and into the line up for security without stopping.
Not being allowed to work with those queues, the ones where folk do actually line up, are still and waiting for any length of time – the trailing line for security – is a constant frustration. I appreciate everyone is doing their job and poets reducing queue-induced tension are not high on the priority list. So this little film has moments of blazing exchange with punters, but a whole lot of people passing by – while I stood feeling futile. I wasn’t even allowed into the actual queue barrier lines before the airport style check point – but at least there was an ease of entrance and everyone getting in without grumble.
The megaphone man shared his few lines of Burns for us. The volunteers were dancing to ‘Happy’ spun on their amp.
We moved on to other venues in the city- the SECC & Kelvingrove where we met the bowls queue. I find it fascinating the tiny time it takes to share a smile and a poem and hear someone else’s thoughts. Always, it is “is that yours?'” or “did you write that?”, surprise now that the caution has been ditched by dialogue.
Quite a few today said no to poetry, which is ok- I’ll just move on, but what surprised me was the response from the street statue as I offered him a little poetry ticket while on his smoking break – “I hate poets”.
Maybe he’d found the perfect job where he didn’t have to talk to anyone all day but felt everyone’s gaze fall on him
I am chuffed that reporting on the Games can include a usually marginalised art-form, and that those marginalised can be spoken about- but really what I was trying to say about Curiosity is that I believe in it as a kind of currency (value & exchange), and that this is my response to the fact that there rarely is a common wealth.
What I went on to say about acknowledging our history in Australia is that I’ve experienced a deeply disturbing ‘lemon-ink’ apartheid, that we must respond to what is, and simply more often acknowledge what was, (our genocidal origins)… that there is such huge sorrow but also such gumption – I tried to speak about this in the poem CONTRAST II, https://vimeo.com/93245871.
Puffing up a steep incline toward Cathkin Braes Mountain Biking….a barrier is collecting a grumbling group – there is confusion as to where those with tickets and those without go….simply to distract while we waited to be told I shared I WON, I – ONE – and wondered….when all are up against it trying to do their job, when the police and the stewards don’t know what to tell people, when you get to the top of a hill to be told to go back down….
where is the worth in working where people already have their purpose? it is those moments in which our ambition is halted, where we are made to wait, where we are confused as to where we should be to best get what we want…that we need to be lifted.
watch them ride past, these bikes – fat tyres and fast