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.
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
At the Tollcross International Swimming Pool, in Glasgow, a very relaxed atmosphere in the adjacent rose garden despite the almighty snaking queue system complete with shiny new barriers glinting in the sun.
THE SUN!!!???? again, here in Glasgow we have had sun.
Our permissions as roving poets limited us to the areas OUTSIDE of the queue barriers where folk lined up for security, so we found ourselves looking in at those waiting and draping ourselves over a queue barrier. Not the most ideal situation for a non-intrusive dialogue – but smiles still surfaced.
One gentleman on a bench told me he hated poets, they are all “smart” – but after granting me permission, and smiling at mine, he shared his own few lines he’d learnt by heart.
Another in-security queue cluster had told me about a situation where someone had to leave a long distance, Sydney-based relationship – and I shared the poem, “Rushcutters Bay, or I Can’t Decide” and the line
“Moored like these yachts
in obedient patience
I consider our trembling marriage”
It made me think of the few precious platitudes from Dr Seuss I cling to:
“When things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew
Just go right along, you’ll start happening too…”
And speaking of queue clusters, it is an odd thing to be doing a funded project aimed at reducing queue-induced stress where Glasgow2014 doesn’t want us working within the most obvious long line-ups: the security bag and tag airport-style queues.
We’ve done porta-loo queues, Box Office at St George’s square queues, queues at tube stations, queues that curl around a park, queues that reach critical mass at SECC before flowing in en masse, queues that stretch the streets… there are no shortage of options, but the organisers in Glasgow have been very efficient with their queues, bless ’em – most people are on the move!
The woman you hear was a warm voice to edge past in all the crowds and traffic congestion, the re-direction and the road blocks. She was tirelessly welcoming people,
“Hello and welcome to Glasgow!
And if you’re not from Glasgow, thanks for having us, for putting up with us”
I thanked her with a little tiny piece of poetry, and you’ll hear people passing and saying hi or a squeak of celebration.
Tawona pointed out too, that it is not up to the host to decide that they are the most welcoming city. It is up to the guests, and those that are visiting – or those that live here and haven’t always been welcome.
There is a cause uniting people- getting games traffic through, putting on a decent show in the face of some international attention and I feel folk are stepping across dividing lines a little more. Though it is hard to step across anything really with so many road blocks.
It was flotilla day, the ships were reportedly rolling any moment, so the eyes were gazing out across the Clyde. We caught up with those waiting on the bridge.
The Riverside was flowing in usual fashion -huge crowds but rarely a long line up to work within, and folk taking a break to sit and sip. We kept clear of the security barriers as requested, so the critical tension points were again out of our reach. It is remarkable though what a little bit of dialogue does to crack open a creative quest. You really can feel the butterfly wing begin to softly shake the Earth.