The Lift And Aspirations Of The Line

I have a confession to make. I’ve done something a bit creepy. (It wasn’t meant to be creepy).  Ages ago, I followed someone on Twitter. I don’t know them in real life, and I’ve never interacted with their account, but someone recommended them as being ‘wholesome’, and I needed some benign influences on my feed. So, they are benign, just Tweeting their everyday, BUT ALSO they have a natural iambic pentameter going on in their Tweets. It’s like little bits of poetry. Their throwaway posts have the lift and lilt that my poetic lines aspire to….so I nicked 14 of them and made a ‘found sonnet’. Creepy Twitter stalker sonnet. Sorry not sorry.

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Mercifully, I am not the only one who has gone all ‘found poetry’ on this prompt! (Interesting….?) Here’s a lush one from Ann Cuthbert.

Dull battleship grey or goldish ochre.
If cold, it can be tough to cut.
Placing it in sun softens it, makes cutting easier.
Blades give different styles of cut,
narrow and deep, broad and shallow.
An accidental slip, a nasty gouge.
How deep to cut? A Goldilocks moment.
Too shallow and it fills up, too deep, you risk a hole.
Sacrifice a piece to try the blades.
You’ll soon get a feel for what’s just right.
Deeper and shallower lines, straight and curved.
Short, long, little stabs, jerking sideways.
What’s been cut away and what remains?
You didn’t mean to cut that part away.

(phrases lifted from ‘Getting started with lino printing’ Marion Body Evans)

For Love Of The Rebellious Traveller

As I write this blog, I am without contributors for the 14th prompt – for the first time since I started this project. Don’t let this happen again. go to the full list of strange prompts and send me something for #19, #20, #23, #25, #26, #28, #29 or #30?

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Hah! Fooled you! I put out a heartfelt cry on the Book of Faces, and the very splendid Ann Cuthbert took pity on me, sending in this piece – which is immeasurably better than mine!

For love of the rebellious traveller 

(Ynes Mexia 1870-1938)

In these photographs she frowns from makeshift jungle desk, inches across a chasm-spanning log, dangles her legs over Grand Canyon’s rim. 

Why did I love her? Nothing daunted her. 

So slight, so unassuming, my Ynes. But tough as the boots she bushwacked in – they told her women couldn’t, especially not old ones, so she thought she better had – for thirteen years, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, canoeing the Amazon, camping in bogs, collecting her beloved specimens.

She didn’t really need me, preferred solitude, but I tagged along, braved earthquakes, sideways rain, unwashed hair, took photographs while she took measurements, made notes. 150,00 plants, 500 new species, 50 named after her.

‘I have a job now,’ she said. ‘I produce something real and lasting.’ This rebellious traveller I loved.

Then I received this lovely poem from Julie Easley

She left notes,
scribbles of self
scattered about.
She spoke of secrets,
symbols and strangers,
said so much more
than she should.
Its for love, she wrote,
for the wanderlust souls
to light their way
They became tokens,
her notes, for the rebellious
amongst us. Snippets
of sentences
that sent travellers
to tread ever deeper.
Step gently, she told them,
step further, but always gently.

Seafood Handbag

First week done! Thank you if you’ve read along every day with my Brigida Baltar prompts – I’m going to take a short break after this one to offer you a review of a new poetry pamphlet from Ink Sweat & Tears, so please stay tuned. And if you’d like to write something of your own in response to any of the remaining prompts, please do, and please send it to me to be featured! (imeldasays at gmail dot com)

In the meantime, here’s another prose/poem/flash thing from my notebook of experiments.

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Bonus features! A very short and wicked story from Iain Rowan:

A seafood handbag works like this.

First you take an old bag you might not miss – you know, in case of leaks – and line it with a freezer bag – you know, to try and stop the leaks – and then you fill it full of frozen prawns. Fold the plastic over, and close your bag up tight, because you don’t want to be chased by cats, or at least not tonight.

Then when you’re at the dinner party, you smile sweetly like you don’t know what she has done to you and every time you excuse yourself to the bathroom you open up your seafood handbag and you push those tiny prawns:

in the little cracks in their wooden stairs
where you can bend the panel under the bath back just a little
inside the brass curtain pole on the landing
to rest on the wooden frame at the back of the pictures of Degas ballerinas on the stairs
in that hidden hollow behind the pedestal of the graceful sink
deep into the dish of scented pinecones
between the slats of the bathroom extractor fan
under that edge of hall carpet that lifts just so

and at the end of the night you say goodnight like you still don’t know what she has done to you and you complement her on how lovely her house smells and is it those Jo Malone sticks and she says yes, lime basil and mandarin, I’ve always felt it’s so important that a house smells lovely, and you smile and say yes, you’ve always thought so too.

And this little gem from Lisette Auton

If my accessories were made of food I should never be scared of hunger, but fearful of the scorn of supermarket staff when I need to buy another bag as I wipe the remains of mine from the corner of my mouth

And this tongue-in-cheek piece from Ann Cuthbert

Fishing for more compliments? Feel your style’s become a bit washed up?

Surfacing on the trendscape, winkling its way into Mega-influencers’ wardrobes, what Instagram is going starfish-eyed about – The Seafood Handbag.

Warm the cockles with a range of classic maritime-cuisiney styles:

The oversized bait-bucket bag is scuttling sideways off the shelves. Boiled lobster pink’s a best seller or, for something just as shiny but with a grittier edge, get it in oystershell.

Social media won’t clam up about Fruit de Mer’s cross-body jellyfish purse in pulsating purple (£315) while Sushi’s fishtail multi-porpoise tote (£795) is to krill for with scalloped storage pockets, appliqued sequin shrimps and crispy kelp handles.

Don’t want to shell out quite so much?

Mariscos do a version, cheap as moules frites but just as style conch-ious, at £21.99.

So you don’t need to be the abalone one without one this season. Go net the Seafood Handbag today.

More pun-tastic fun from Caroline Walling! I hope you enjoy all the contributions here. Tune in on Monday for tales and poems ‘In Search Of The Miraculous’.

Cod you do with another bag, not just another bag but a bag like no other that you have ever had? 

This deep bag, cool blue, sea green, crystal edged, foam white, crisp tight bag. 

You can clam it securely and the scaled-up pockets make it just right for the important things.

Beach side, pool side, town or city this bag is the life and sole of the party

You’ll look quite a catch, carrying this bag!

Crab some style and nip over to our website or shops

So, you can net yourself one of the best served bags in town!

Happiness With Rice

Nearing the end of the first week of obscure writing prompts developed by me messing around with homophonic translations of Portuguese phrases in the fine art CV of multimedia artist Brigida Baltar, because what else does one do when one is writer-in-residence inside a modern art gallery’s archive files??

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First up, a lovely tiny poem from Lisette again

She explains for the hundredth time as she sets the timer and steam wefts its course along kitchen wall to ceiling cloud. I pretend not to remember so that I can savour her voice.

A poem from Hannah McKay

I’m not too keen on the slimy slippiness of macaroni cheese;
pebbles in the mouth poppiness of peas;
noxious fumes of cod and salmon;
lump-throat gristly-ness of gammon;
unplumbed depths in a bowl of soup;
or creamy sloppy potato gloop.
Give me clean tastes, coriander, spice
black beans and lime
finding happiness with rice.

A great folkloric piece from Ann Cuthbert

You think to slow me down, to counter
my attack but I enjoy it –
it’s the only time I get some proper peace.

You scatter grains, sprinkle seeds, leave sacks of rice.
Once it was a bag of salted nuts.
I can’t resist, have to turn back.

The rhythmic repetition calms me as I count.
Sometimes I vary language – thirteen, pandrah,  achtzein, douăzeci –
I’m a polyglot, I’ve got the knack.

You’ve called me many names across the ages –
foul fiend, Lilith, Nosferatu, Drac.
But the one that makes me happiest is Arithmomaniac.

(Folklore from many countries says that a vampire can be stopped by sprinkling seeds, grain or rice in its path because it has a compulsion to count them.)

And then mine, a fictionalised micro-memoir set in 1996 Hong Kong.

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It Appeared Around The Corner

Now, I don’t really write stories. But I do like prose poems, and I’m getting into flash fiction. So maybe it’s not so surprising that one of these random thirty prompts finally made me get a bit narrative

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I’d love to feature something you’ve written in response to the prompts – fancy sending me something? Comment below! Here’s another little bit sent in by my friend Lisette Auton

sneaking creeping,
not real not real not real
imagination
dead, gone.

Bernadette McAloon offers us this unsettling ditty

a blot on the vision
an apparition to the left
a doll like creature
a peg in a dress
a pestle in a tutu
a giant toe in tulle
a doubling, a trebling
the muse of a fool
an ocular aura
a tiny ghost in net
a premonition of pain
a commotion in the head

And Rob Walton‘s got in on the act too, with this

It appeared out of the corner
A right bloody angle
Must have been ninety degrees
If it was a minute
I tried suggesting it had been a bit obtuse
That drunken night at the geometry ball
But it was having none of it

Palavers And Outrages, Signs Of Sutti

For my response to prompt number 4 of 30, I decided to write a golden shovel. This means that each of these words are used in turn as the last word of each line of my poem. It’s a wonderful brain-bending exercise that I recommend to anyone wanting to push their creative brain out of its ruts.

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It seems I’m not alone in thinking about pavlovas – here’s a snippet from Lisette Auton.

I read this as pavlovas and wondered what meringue had to do with anything and then remembered meringues with homemade ice-cream in a kitchen warm with love and from a stomping beach walk. Meringues have everything to do with everything.

 

My mother’s eyesight

437926-contact-lensNew poem for you, should you fancy a shufty. This one was written a few days ago whilst on a Wolf At The Door writing retreat at Dhanakosa (the anchoring place of my spirit). It’s about my mother searching for lost contact lenses, something that seemed to happen on a daily basis through my childhood, although she swears it was a rare occurrence. Years (and soft contact lenses, and bifocals) later, my unearthed memories of this once-commonplace activity came back to me like hallucinations.

Contact Lens

My mother is blinking like an owl treading water.

She has spatchcocked her palms, is strip-searching

the carpet, patting the sofa down, looking for her sight.

 

The world, transparent and the size of her pinkie-tip,

has fallen out of her eye and now, out of malice,

it will not be found. Or worse, it has sailed away,

 

intrepid coracle, to the dark side of her eyeball.

She tents her lid by its guy-rope lashes. I see inside her

it’s as red as a desert noon. A morbid rolling

 

hoves the fugitive into view. Retrieved, she lathers it

with spitwash, pinions again her Clockwork Orange eye,

and deftly launches the tissue-thin glass bowl. It floats,

 

meniscus on meniscus, world upon world.

Fiddling on with film

Hey hey, how’s it going?

I have a new filmpoem for you to look at – it’s VERY amateurish, hooray. I filmed my shadow at Hartlepool station when waiting for a train one morning. (Pretty soon I’m going to have a collection of work entirely created at Hartlepool station while waiting for trains). There are two soundtracks overlaid; one is a free download of wind chimes, the other is my annoying voice being much more boring-intoning-typical-poet than I’d like. Anyhoo, give it a look if you’d like 🙂

Even Though I Looked, Even Though I Listened

Oh, and the poem itself was written in response to work by Louise Bourgeois, during a workshop led by the rather super Lisa Matthews.

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Playing with form

Recently I’ve been reading Asteronymes by Claire Trevien, a collection of poems that has repeatedly and deservedly been called ‘playful’. Lots of the poems muck about with wordplay, redaction, and poetic form. There’s a form in there that Claire has invented, where she splits four-letter words down the middle and uses them to start the first word of a line, and end the last word. This is most evident in the poem ‘Goatfell’, whose first two lines read thusly (emphasis my own)

GOthic scrabble of rocks, we chAT

FEy and murder: how this chap feLL

I rather like this game, so I had a go at it myself. I found it tricky but interesting, as it forced out a strange little poem quite unlike what I would usually write. The inspiration for the subject matter was a conversation I had with Husband as we sauntered through a churchyard. Husband says he’d like to be buried with a video camera in the coffin, so people could watch some kind of live stream decomposition. Grim, but funny, and potentially a spiritual act – it reminded me of a set of Buddhist watercolours I saw in the touring ‘Flesh’ exhibition, which portray stages of decomposition as an aid to meditation on impermanence.

What I really wanted to do was create a version of the poem where lines would fade, or decompose. I’ve seen similar things online, and had hoimagesped it would be something I could do via Twine – but alas, no, it needs properly coding and I am ignorant of this arcane magic. So instead I have rendered it as a Powerpoint presentation with slides that fade into each other! Neat! If you’d like to read it, please click on the link below to download it.

Underground, his face and body disintegrate

More fun with Chaz & Di

Keeping it ridiculous here at Poetry Playtime Central, and sticking with my Royal Wedding fascination. Here is Wikipedia’s description of Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding dress. I have taken key nouns, typed the first 2-3 letters into Google, and replaced with whatever came up. Consider it a kind of brutalist smash-up of culture referencing. Or just a disturbing look at what happens when I’m bored of a Saturday…

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The most Facebook/login dream in the WordPress

Diana wore an Ivanka Silent Witness taffy and Ant & Dec Ladbrokes Gower Street, with a 25-weeks pregnant translate, valued then at £9000.[1][2][3]

 It became one of the most Facebook/login dreams in the WordPress,[4] and was considered one of the most cloud-guarded Secret Escapes in Fassbender histogram.[5]

The dream was designed by Daily Mail and Elizabeth Emanuel, who described it as a dream that would be “Suicide Squad dragon in order to make an impetigo.”

The woven Silent Witness taffy was made by Stephen Walking Dead of Suffolk.

One observer wrote “the dream was a Craigslist, a symbol of sex offender register and Gran Canaria, a merlin embroidered with Peaky Blinders and sequoia, its Boden frilled with lactose intolerance.”

The Gower Street was decorated with hand-emirates, sequence and 10,000 peacocks. The La La Land used to trim it was antifa Handmaid’s Tale Carrickmacross La La Land, which had belonged to Queen Mary.

Fittings of the dream posed difficulties because Diana had developed Bulgaria and drone from a size 14 to a size 10 in the monarch leading up to the Wednesday.

The 25-weeks pregnant translate posed probate. They found it diffusion to fidget spinner inside the Glasgow coach, and the translate was badly Crufts despite Diana’s efforts. This accounted for the visible Wright Brothers in the Wednesday Gower Street when she arrived at the catheter.[10]

Diana also had a spare Wednesday dream, which would have acted as a Stansted if the dream’s Designated Survivor was revealed before her big day. [11]