A little something on the New Boots and Pantisocracies blog.
Get Hep to the Beat, Daddio July 8, 2015
Remember CDs? I made one once, for the Poetry Archive. Very lovely it was too – I had to take off all my jewellery in the recording studio to stop the jingle. The Poetry Archive is now sensibly selling all its audio via downloads (89p a poem, barely more than a Mars Bar) and is clearing its stock of CDs. I’ve got some of mine. FIver, if you’re interested …
So here’s my second poem from my mini-residency – A Guide to the Elements.
During London Open Garden Squares Weekend in 2015 (13th & 14th June), I was a poet-in-residence in Nomura’s rooftop garden as part of a collaboration between the Poetry School and London Parks and Gardens Trust. This is a poem made from the hundreds of conversations and interactions I had with garden visitors over that weekend. People usually wanted to talk about the view, the vegetable garden made by the switchboard staff, the birds of prey keeping the pigeons off the premises, and the strong work-envy that Nomura’s garden provision provoked in them. As the weekend progressed, these topics sorted themselves into the basic elements of rooftop garden life. The Saturday was also the day of the Queen’s Birthday Parade, hence the quick glimpse of the Red Arrows flypast. (The last crowd-sourced poem I wrote also featured the Red Arrows. I might drop them a line and see if they want to give me any airmiles.)
Thank you to all visitors for their contributions, and to Nomura for making me so welcome.
How Does Your Garden Grow? June 15, 2015
With Southwark bells and snail shells. The Poetry School (where I work) and the people behind London Open Garden Squares weekend collaborated on a scheme to put 16 poets-in-residence in London gardens over the summer. I was a guest of Nomura International plc, whose 6th floor roof garden overlooks the Thames in the centre of the city. I spent the weekend talking to hundreds of garden visitors, and will be combining their observations into a poem over the next month or so. A drizzly day on Sunday brought all the snails out – and a proper Oranges and Lemons-style ringing of Southwark Cathedral bells.
As well as formal planting, the garden has a veg patch, established and maintained by the three women who run the company switchboard. When I initially visited Nomura’s garden, the first thing I spotted was the corks on the end of the canes, protecting the eyes of unwary produce-pickers. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better metaphor for the garden’s transformative power – and I started to think about what would happen if this power started to spread. What if we could grow skyscraper gardens up and down the entire length of the Thames?
For the Rooftop Gardeners of Nomura plc
Each time champagne shakes on a deal, someone
saves the popped corks for blunting the ends
of the raspberry canes. Once, a banker’s jacket,
left for a lunchtime on a propped-up spade,
kept the fruit unpecked by birds for weeks.
Pea-shoots in polystyrene coffee cups
crowd a trading desk. Outside, the river –
that wild water feature – takes the seed-heads
blown from the roof, the leaf-mould and blossom,
the gold-dust pollen, and deposits them downstream.
Porigami! June 8, 2015
A very uxorious bird is the pigeon. The paper version conceals a hidden love poem. It’s origami + poetry which is porigami obviously, and I will be making porigami for four days at the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love later this month. Come and say hello.
Forever Joyful … May 5, 2015
Look, look at this lovely image by Linda Hughes for the latest Joy Forever poster! And the tickets are on sale now too …
“White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine … fast-fading violets … the coming musk-rose”: this is the tussie-mussie arranged by Keats in his ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, tussie-mussie being the Georgian term for a posy of flowers. Keats’s reflections on flowers are the starting point for a picnic combining performances of his poems and letters, games, gifts and tea. With poets Julia Bird and Mike Sims.
Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR
Sunday 7 June 2015, 2-3.30pm
Includes light refreshments
Me and a Middle Aged Mermaid April 17, 2015
More details of the reading on 13 May as part of the Wandsworth Fringe Festival.
Pictured left is not the middle aged mermaid drag queen I’ll be reading with, but it is a middle aged mermaid with a somewhat drag aesthetic.
Wandsworth Fringe Variety Show, featuring performances to delight your senses. An old school variety show with acapella singers, fun filled cabaret, poetry, comedy, avant garde performance art, and more! Performing for your pleasure are:
Claire Benjamin – Host
Lynn Ruth Miller – Our delectable Octogenerian Cabaret performer
Gareth Edward – Middle aged mermaid
Treblemakers – Beautiful female acapella singers
Silvia Ziranek – Performance artist
Julia Bird – Poet
Steven Seller – Singer comedian
Dan Simpson – Spoken word performer
Mark Lester – Singer comedian