An Indoor Heaven

The strange prompts and their wonderful donated responses go on! Thanks to Jules Clare for this poem

A poetic stage
at the Translucent Sage
A satisfying slam
Full of Doc glam

What about a cave?
Fingal is all the rave
Oh, come on Poets, behave
Recite your purple fave

Her indoors is listening
Beads of sweat are glistening
It’s time for the baby’s christening
Feel the congregation stiffening

An indoor haven
The audience cave in
A lady in purple raving
Human souls worth saving

Big thanks also to Mandy Maxwell, for this slice of domestic bliss!

An indoor heaven is a duvet
When it’s raining outside on a blue day
We’re Netflix n’ chill with a movie
Salsa, tortillas n’ doobie

An indoor heaven is a cuddle
Arms n’ legs in a muddle
When all the parts of the puzzle
Fit to create the bubble

An indoor heaven is laughter
It’s belly bustin’ banter
It’s finding the perfect partner
For the happy-ever-after

Mine went odd, predictably. I thought first about sleeping in a doorway, wishing to be inside. But that didn’t work. So I thought about how I always picture Heaven as being essentially a return to Eden, an outdoor space. I imagined an artificial, indoor Eden, and then that got me thinking about how the Biblical descriptions of Heaven are actually very urban and materialistic – cities and mansions of gold and jewels. And then this happened :

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If you’d like to have a poem or short story featured that you’ve written in response to any of the remaining prompts, please comment below!

 

The Art Of Delicate Resistances

Prompt 9 of 30 is a bit delicious, isn’t it? This is what Hannah McKay wrote in response to it, drawing on her expertise and experience as a shiatsu therapist and teacher:

Stretch to the edge of totality.

Hands holding, holding hands, legs, backs –

Instructively wait, listen –

Acing my own consistent muscularity

Touching Structures, the whole body

Understands breath at the edge of everything

My own response was a bit less wholesome…

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If you’d like to submit a response to any of the remaining prompts, comment below!

In Search of the Miraculous

Welcome back to the second week-long block of daily experimental writings in response to these strange prompts. As ever, I’d love to featured something from you, no matter how small or weird, just comment or message me and I’ll get it sorted.

#8 In search of the miraculous2

Here’s a lovely poem from Bernadette McAloon, full of rhythm and song.

No Fatima, no Lourdes
no tubercular girls
no fevered rosaries
no swine,  no pearls
no multiplied fish
no unlikely streams
no swarm of Marys
no wayside scenes
no bathing for cures
no housemaid’s knee
no canonised psychotics
no parting the sea
no blue genuflections
no Magdalene hair
no combustible bush
no wing, no prayer

Big thanks to Jo Colley for submitting this poignant prose poem. Be sure to watch out for her new pamphlet, How To Break A Horse, out now via indie press Blueprint. You can also buy her full collections from Smokestack, including brand new collection Sleeper, which launches at Newcastle Lit & Phil on 9 March.

Once I was in touch with the ineffable, believing miracles were only a breath away. If I prayed, Jesus would come and dry my tears. If I prayed, Jesus would sort out the misery of home. So I prayed, fervently, on my knees, desperately, fingers entwined so tightly, eyes squeezed together so hard, that it hurt. And once I think I saw Jesus, standing in my bedroom in a white nightie, looking holy and beautiful and sad. I think he came to tell me that it doesn’t work like that. Miracles cannot be ordered or begged for, and they don’t necessarily go to people who deserve them. Because who doesn’t? Suffering is par for the course in a human’s life and you may as well learn that early on. No, miracles are not a response to a child’s prayer, they are not about justice or about putting the world right. They are like flowers that grow through the cracks of the rubble of a bombed building. They are the sound of a woman sweeping up broken glass in a Sunday morning kitchen. They are found in the unexpected irrepressible laughter of children who have had everything taken away. A kind word from the check out boy at the supermarket when your heart is trying to carry bad news. 

From Rachel Burns, author of Girl In A Blue Dress from Vane Women press:

Tabernacle
After Dean Browne

The tabernacle flame in my church was always lit,
my childhood spent wishing something would happen
praying for a dark wind to come and blow the doors open
hoping the glass would crack and the flame blow out
but no that never happened. God, I was bored
listening to Father Lowry stammer through the Amens,
the Our Fathers, the Christs, the Lords
my knees sore from kneeling in a pew.

I’d never make the leap between religion and sex
in a tent, as you did. I had no such awakening.
That’s not strictly true. I do recall a camping trip
the flame of the Tilley lamp dwindling,
the smell of paraffin the tent plunged into darkness, my grip
tightening, the gasp for breath, the sudden climax.

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.

 

Body Nostalgia

Prompt 3 of 30, and I’m offering an alliterative brain-blurt, which was the best I could manage. In fact, I also very nearly managed to finish a short story for this prompt, but as prose is not my metier I ended up bogged down and paralysed. So – bouncing out with a bit of babble was my way to get back on track.

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And the ever-game Lisette Auton sent me one for number three as well – I can relate…

I mourn the lost body. I berate the folds and jiggles. Yet when I see a photo from before I think I looked beautiful then. Why can’t I think I look beautiful now?

Big thanks to Bernie McAloon for this snippet.

She considers this from another angle
until thoughts that escape from dresses
are suspended in stockings hanging
from the breast of a mantel.

Plus get a load of this flash-y beaut from Denise Sparrowhawk!

“Oh wow! Vintage! Can I try them?”  She watches covertly, as her daughter slides easily into the faded 501s and twirls for effect, hands on slim hips. “Perfect! Can I keep them?”. Without looking her mother nods, pushing away unwelcome thoughts of blue jeans days and the memory of thinner thighs.

Mary’s Flour

Time for reactions to prompt number two. Remember, you can still join in and send me something, we have 28 more prompts to feature 🙂

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Here’s a lovely response from Julie Easley:

They dissed Mary’s flour
said it tainted the fancies
but Mary didn’t care
for their sour responses
She flavoured her flour
with the decadent essence
of feminist spice mixed
with a pinch of opportunity.
Some choked on the power
of Mary’s floury produce
their taste buds unable
to swallow and savour
the equalising strength
of her sweet sisterly ingredients.
Plus a small, fierce statement from Lisette Auton, nut allergy sufferer

Mary’s flour does not say categorically whether it is made with gluten nor if it contains nuts.

Mary needs to work on her labelling.

 

And here’s a tiny little poem from me!
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Pleas be sure to go and see the photograph by Brigida Baltar currently on exhibit from the Middlesbrough Collection at MIMA, until the end of March.

Air From Other Planets

Just over a week ago I published a list of bizarre creative writing prompts that arose from some experiments made as part of my writing residency at MIMA. I asked people if they’d like to send me their poems and flash in response. To my delight, several brave souls have done!

So, here is the first of 30 posts where I will share my response to the prompt (in Instagram slides), and also a bunch of stuff by other people. Here’s the first prompt:

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I was reading ‘Changing Planes’ by Ursula le Guin when I started working on this, so I was influenced by her format of multiple very short stories all presented as travel guides to other planets/dimensions. My short writings came out as advertising blurbs.

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Here’s another approach from Lisette Auton

Is mars air coloured red?

Will it glaze my lungs in flames?

One way to find out…

And here’s another two pieces from me! If you’d like to have your flash, poem or micro-poem included in the next blogs, take a look at the prompts and email me something to imeldasays at gmail dot com. Cheers!

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And I almost forgot to add this fun piece from Rob Walton!

I was pure shocked to read in the paper about the big mountain of bloated bird corpses in Kent.
I said to Ken, I said, I said,
“Can it, can it, can it really be that there’s a mountain of dead gannets
grossly rotting on a beach on the Isle of Thanet?”
“Aye, well, you know what it is,” said Kenneth.
“They’d had enough of the poor air quality down there, so one of them – I think it was Little Jeffrey – went online and bought air from other planets. Turns out it was a bad batch. Cut with something or other.”
“Oh, that’s, I mean, that’s terrible. That’s such a shame. A crying shame.”
“Aye,” said Kenny. “Mind, they’re only gannets.”

Titles for imaginary poems – JANUARY SALE!

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll know that I’m undertaking a self-directed writing residency at MIMA. I’m using documents from their archives to inspire some experiments, like these in stop-motion animation, micro-poetry and found poetry collage.

But when I moved on to the file for my next chosen artist, Brazilian photographer Brigida Baltar, I found very little to work with. The main document was her CV of art works, exhibitions and galleries where she has been shown. It was a VERY long list, and a lot of it was in Portuguese.

There is a poetry technique called ‘homophonic translation’ or ‘the arrogant translator’. In it, the poet creates a new work by (mis)translating a poem written in a language they can’t understand.

I did this with the Portuguese phrases, thinking I might write one piece incorporating some or all of them. Instead, I ended up with the titles for swarms of new poems, short stories and flash fictions, which have been plaguing my brain ever since!

In an attempt to halve my torment by sharing it, here are 30 of them issued as writing prompts via the slightly trash-sarcastic medium of pre-designed Instagram slides. Please send me anything that comes out of any of these prompts, and I promise I’ll share it here alongside my own efforts!

1111111#8 In search of the miraculous - Copy - Copy#9 The art of delicate resistances - Copy - Copy#10 An indoor heaven - Copy - Copy#11 Ghost Crab - Copy - Copy#12 The nature of things - Copy - Copy#13 The peripatetic school - Copy - Copy#14 For love of the rebellious traveller - Copy - Copy#15 Itinerant line - Copy - Copy#16 after other utopias are planted - Copy#17 Paper Trail - Copy#18 The lift and aspirations of the line - Copy#19 Other flowers - Copy#20 More precious than prattle - Copy#21 The marketplace of earth and barricades - Copy#22 From which precision, despite it all, we are sentient - Copy#23 The subtle vertigo of images - Copy#24 House of abasement - Copy#25 Sonorous passageways - Copy#26 Resplendent incisors - Copy#27 radical handy-arms - Copy#28 O! Son Of Trauma - Copy#29 the last house of the last passenger

#30 Get that balance