Hannah Loves Kathy and other poetic shennanigans

That thing they do to plates, that’s coolee isn’t it? At half time we had masses of cheese. Are you calling my mam trailer trash? She’s in there puking now while he’s pissing.

Yes, these are random snippets overheard on the last train back to Hartlepool on a Saturday. I can’t make them into poetry. I bet Hannah Silva could, because she’s some kind of divine alchemist. She can take the dross that is Fifty Shades of Grey and the already cut-up works of Kathy Acker and transform them into a whirlwind of terrifying beauty, where cancer and childbirth and so many species of pain are funnelled through her singular, exacting creative practice to become a confluence of meanings. Spoken words degrade and reveal their emotional core, spoken words and subtitles and BSL gestures converge and diverge in their meanings but never lose their urgent significance, often slipping apart to leave gaps where we find our own meanings growing.  What is a woman if you take away her breasts, her volition, her body? If you hear these words and you are not in a sex dungeon – “everything in this room can cause pain” – if you are sitting with your friends – what does this now mean? Stunning. See her work if it’s the last thing you do.

For the sublime to the ridiculous, as I totally fail to spend any time at the Newcastle Poetry Festival, not even to see Kei Miller, for which I will do appropriate penance at some point in the future – but really, when you live in Spoken Word Land, it’s very hard to visit Literary Establishment Land without wanting to shoot yourself in the face. So many poets who are great on page but who should never speak. So few audience members in the huge auditorium. So little palpable enthusiasm. Sigh. So for those of you who didn’t get along, like me, you will be no doubt delighted to watch my very sweary filmpoem ‘Primavera’ on the Bloodaxe Archive website, along with a couple of other poems and a re-interpretation of Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave Off Kanagawa’ rendered entirely in ink stamps saying ‘cunt’ and ‘fuck’.

I was going to write you an immensely sensitive response to Heaney’s sequence ‘The Clearings’, which I have been reading out loud after meditation every morning this week, but that may have to wait until I get to feeling a bit more pretentious. Instead, here’s a list of Poetry Wot I Have Read This Week:

The Haw Lantern; Seamus Heaney

Abstract & Delicious; Tony Lopez

Penguin Modern Poets #12; Alan Jackson, Jeff Nutall, William Wantling

Forms Of Protest; Hannah Silva

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