The Twizzle Bird and Other Stories

I knew that writing this blog would be more than I would get around to doing most of the time and the length of time that has elapsed since my last posting rather proves my suspicions about my motivation. But, blimmin‘ ink, dudes, I’ve been busy. In no particular order: this weekend just gone, Lynda and I went down to Bristol to see Amy’s exhibition at Massala – part of the Bedminster Arts Trail. Here’s the link so that you can get a flavour of what she was showing.

Eight, short-run, limited edition prints from mixed media originals. Wonderful stuff. I know where I want to go for the cover of my CPL collection (nepotism or not). It’s nice to be honestly able to say that I would have be knocked out by these images even if I did not know who had produced them. There were a few poets in evidence in Bristol too, doing good contemporary writing and some ceramicists and painters using text in their work to good effect.

I had a gig with Adam at the Coachmakers last Wednesday evening. We were going to do a couple of poems but some older blokes came in and were singing along to the songs so we kept the sets pretty much to songs they knew. There was a real sense community going on. That’s a great thing about the English and Celtic song tradtions, they belong to everybody and there’s a great sense of belonging in them.

Adam told me he thinks my previous posting about the lecturer I had a personality clash with sounds ‘bitter’. Well, yeah, it is. My family was going seriously without for me to be at uni and if it wasn’t going to work out for me, I would have been putting them through hardship for nothing. It also shows that Adam is probably a nicer geezer than me and doesn’t hold grudges like I do. I don’t mean to.

As part of the Footprints project I have been commissioned to write a poem for, I went along to the Excalibur school to help the young poets there with their pieces for the project. ‘High five’ to them all (this seems to be their preferred way of celebrating achievement). They were so hard-working, immaginative, uncompetitive, supportive, charming, engaging, sincere and funny. They wrote some excellent small poems on the subject of recycling and reducing our carbon footprint and preserving the planet. They also came up with this:


We should put them in charge of the world for a while or at least ask them what they want of us. After all, what’s good for them is good for the world.

While I was there I met Sue, an old mate of Lynda’s and mine from back in the days of the Dragon Fair and the Butterfly Fair at Rode Heath. Me and Lynda were playing folk rock with Heymaker, Sue was a fire-blower, juggler and assorted other circus skills person – part of the Steve and Jan’s unique Hole House Farm entourage. These were such resourceful people. They would make a night’s entertainment of the highest quality out of whatever was around them at the time. I once helped provide the music for a shadow puppet show they put on. Me on fiddle, Matt on melodeon. The shadow puppet characters we cut out from cornflake packets and taped onto withies. The shadow screen was a bedsheet (borrowed from one of the mobile homes of their endless mates) stretched between two sharpened stakes driven into the grass. The light came from rags wrapped round the top of another stake and soaked in paraffin and driven into the ground. For added bite and humour, many of the characters were recognisable as friends and family of the crowd. We have all put our minds to more conventional employment since then but Steve and Jan’s formidable invention has left its mark in a good way. Sue’s sense of theatre, people skills and heart-warming inclusivity are in high profile in the preschool centre she now runs. Steve and Jan went to Australia to live, years ago now. It’s funny cuz Steve always looked Australian and now, I suppose, he is.

Joyce of the CCC has come up with three Braille copies for ‘pAUSE fOR a pOEM’ which I find really exciting. They look so arcane and magical. I can’t proof read them, of course, but I’m sure they’re fine and dandy. It’s a big step closer to getting that show on the road, as t’were.

Lynda and I have signed up for the Congleton Garden Festival weekend. Lynda will be doing her clay magikings and getting the kids to have a go and I am planning a garden-related poetry installation and some inter-active poetry. More about that next time.

I should be working on my poem for Footprints but I somehow can’t. I have also been commissioned to write one for World Environment Day. The two things overlap too much in my head at the moment. My first reaction on hearing about WED was: World Environment DAY? DAY??? – shouldn’t it be that every day? The WED people have been going on about it for years with a different catch phrase for every year. Does this kind of profiling really do anything, I wonder? Or are the copy writers sitting at their office desks coming up with smart things to write about recycling on their recycled paper while the earth rots around them like Nero of legend and his ol’ violin? The solution to all this poisoning of the planet is so simple as well. To give just one example: The use of cars is bad for the planet? OK, stop using them then. Sorted.

I did a poetry workshop with a reading group at Shavington school. They were great young people. We played around with some rhythm strings to get in to the meanings of rhythm and then they came up with poems about where they live. There is a lot of stuff poet folks are doing that deserves a more-public profile. I want to get what they are doing up on my official website as soon as it is in existence. I’ve emailed Anne at the CCC to progress it but I’ve not heard anything yet.

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