Archive for the ‘art’ Category

3030 Poetry Challenge -Day 18

Ahead of time, I give you day 18 of the challenge,
the prompt: cheap earrings


We laughed as we walked
through the streets,
boys calling out,
‘Ciao, bella!’

We got lost,
found our way, by asking
‘dove il Duomo?’
working back from there.

We tired of statues of David,
laughed some more,
arm in arm through the Uffizi,
then stopped as we caught sight of the real one,
illuminated by sunlight,
at the far end of the gallery.

In a street behind Santa Croce,
I bought those earrings,
brass crescent moons,
cost me 6000 lira.

I lost them years ago,
first one
and then the other,
but I still have the copy of A Room With a View.

Maybe we should go back,
now we’re old ladies,
see who calls out
‘Ciao bella!’


3030 Poetry Challenge Day 2

Day 2:
Prompt: On the Couch.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Pablo Picasso.

Picasso Girl

Stanley is an etching,
you hardly notice him at first ,
but when you take the time,
you will find fine lines that make up light and shade,
cross hatching that defines his mood.
He is clear and clean.
Rachel is a watercolour,
some people think her dull,
but she has subtlety of tone.
Her colouring can take you to hazy meadows or Italian cities.
She is older than she looks.
If you give her space she glows,
move in close and you will find secrets that other people miss.
Sarah is an Impressionist painting.
Her presence caresses the eye.
Soft textures and swathes of light and colour.
‘Most everybody’s taste,
and yet with that comes a loneliness.
Nobody takes their time to look up close
and see the brush strokes that create that sense of ease.
Robin’s a Pollock
First glance you think he’s loud and brash
but up close you’ll find a peace between the splats and sparks.
And my girl?
It is an acquired taste that finds beauty
in two eyes where one should be,
one open, one half-closed,
nose off-set and rather elongated,
ears that could be violins,
skin splashed with, not strawberries and cream,
but aubergine left too long in the heat
and a smile like a half eaten pomegranate,
a smile nevertheless,
and one reserved for those that see.

How to communicate when you have to be quiet…

As you may know, I’m working with a group of young people called The Mouthy Poets, who are currently based at Nottingham Playhouse. Each week we meet to explore words and communication, writing, performing (we work towards two main performances a year and a number of ‘satellite’ performances). One of our members is Maresa Mackeith, she is also a member of a group called Quiet Riot. Quiet Riot are a group of people who are unable to speak, for a variety of reasons, they communicate via signs, spelling boards, voice coders etc. They also write and campaign for recognition of those of us who have the inability to speak aloud.

For someone like me, who talks a LOT, to lose the power of speech would seem catastrophic. At Mouthy we are very vocal, we talk, we sing, we  gabble, we interject, interrupt, laugh, disagree, cheer, support, all OUT LOUD. So at the beginning of November I devised a workshop where I asked the group to communicate about an event in the week, by writing it down a-word-at-a-time.

They wrote the first word on a small piece of paper, then passed this to their neighbour, who read it to the group. This took a looong time! But we were all very patient and a hush fell whilst this was taking place. When we reached Maresa, her mum Caroline (who attends as her PA, but also gets stuck in to the exercises for herself) took her hand and together they spelled out on an alphabet board, what Maresa wanted to share. She is a past-master at this and is able to explain briefly, yet succinctly, what she has done, how she was feeling about it, what she is feeling now about it. She has honed the art of precis. When she ‘speaks’ we all fall silent and wait, there is no sense of impatience and we are all impressed with her choice of words. Whilst we gabble and splurge about this and that, she speaks in clear statements which cut to the crux of the matter.

Once we had gone around the circle, we talked about how the exercise had made us feel. Had it affected what we were going to say? Did we decide to abbreviate? Did we feel frustrated? Did we feel liberated? And Maresa… how did she feel watching us all communicating in a similar way to her? She said she enjoyed the speed… the pace.

I then gave them ten minutes to write a piece about the event we had been focussing on. I asked them to make sure their writing was clear as we would be sharing these with the group. When they had finished, I asked them to swap their writing with somebody else – then each person had to perform that piece as if it were their own. If they were not happy with what they had written, they could choose a few lines from it, but they had to give that piece over to someone else to work on.

The results were amazing. Some really thoughtful writing came out and because they were conscious that they were performing somebody else’s piece (although I had told them they could edit if they saw fit) they treated the performance with real commitment. Each performer somehow retained their own voice, but applied it to the writing of their partner. What was most encouraging was that listening to their work performed by somebody else, gave them confidence – there were writers who didn’t really like their piece when they wrote it, but when they heard it, they changed their mind. Even those who had been satisfied with their piece when they had written it, said they were happier with it when they heard it performed by somebody else.

I am conscious that for members of Quiet Riot to have their work heard, they have to rely on other performers, performers like Mouthy Poets – so for me it is important that Mouthy Poets understand how it feels to hand over your hard work to somebody else and let them do with it what they will. I also believe that a writer should be able to put their words onto the page in such a way that a performer can deliver that work as they intended it – that’s not to say that every performer won’t interpret that piece of writing in their own way, but a good writer should consider every word, every comma or dash or space.

Quiet Riot and Mouthy Poets are putting together a visual exhibition to celebrate Disability History Month, which runs from November 22nd to December 22nd. We hope to include work by Quiet Riot and Mouthy, as well as poems written in the 1800s by disabled writers. It would be great if we could have work in braille too and art works as well as written pieces. The exhibition will be at Nottingham Playhouse in the upper foyer.

If anyone has a piece of writing or a piece of visual art they feel would be appropriate please contact me and I can put you in touch with Maresa and Jim who are coordinating the event.