If I knew where poems came from Iâ€™d go there. Michael Longley
Published in 2010 by Where poems come from... http://issuu.com/Where_poems_come_from... Copyright © 2010 resides with the authors Preface and this selection © 2010 Jeremy Over The right of each to be identified as the author of his or her work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988 All rights reserved Cover designs by Anna Frew Cover illustration © Anna Frew Editorial and production by Jeremy Over, Eileen Pun and Jacquie Shanahan ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The following poems appeared in Muse 7, published by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2010: ‘Closing your eyes and jumping …’ by Bob Doughty ‘A Balloon Star’ by Maria Gregoriou ‘Light and Colour’ by Lawrence Harris ‘In the space between love and difference’ by Jemima Mann-Baha ‘Wood, smoke and mirrors’ by Jacquie Shanahan ‘Guide to Financial Instruments’ by Ben Willems ‘Crumpet’, ‘Perspective’ and ‘What happens when we let it all go?’ by Alison Winch
If I knew where poems came from an anthology of poems by Manchester Metropolitan University Creative Writing Students Edited by Jeremy Over
CONTENTS Preface Jeremy Over 6
COLLAGE POEMS Watch it Run Janet Lancaster 8 Perspective Alison Winch 8 Minutes to describe the worst Tracey Martin 9 Guide to Financial Instruments Ben Willems 9 Alcatraz Lawrence Harris 10 A Balloon Star Maria Gregoriou 11 In the month of May Jemima Mann-Baha 11 A place to harden Jacquie Shanahan 12 Confession Cathryn Herrick 13 Tyre Pile Clive McWilliam 13 In conversation with Yahweh Catherine Mark 14
THE OULIPO Homophonic and N+7 versions of Pound’s ‘And the Days Are Not Full Enough’ Janet Lancaster 16 Homophonic version of Lorca’s ‘Goring and Death’ Lisa Hannah 16 Homophonic and N+7 versions of WC Williams’ Red Wheelbarrow Eileen Pun 17 A New Harvest Jemima Mann-Baha 18 Homophonic version of Brecht’s ‘Ich habe dich nie je so geliebt’ Jacquie Shanahan 19 The Candiru Lawrence Harris 19 Look at what flakes Ben Willems 20
FOUND POEMS Light and Colour Lawrence Harris 22 Walking the Campus Bob Doughty 22 Lazimpat – Morning Tracey Martin 23 Crumpet Alison Winch 23 4
Half a lifetime Catherine Mark 24 ‘Maria, keep clear’ Jacquie Shanahan 24 Wood, smoke and mirrors Jacquie Shanahan 26 ‘Music is the outburst of the soul’ Catherine Mark 26 Paying Mam’s Weekly Bills Janet Lancaster 27 Northern Quarter Catherine Mark 29 Dry riser Clive McWilliam 30 CHANCE & COLLABORATION What happens when we let it all go? Alison Winch 32 In the space between love and indifference Jemima Mann-Baha 32 What is real time? Jacquie Shanahan 34 Lost Lawrence Harris 35 Closing your eyes and jumping Bob Doughty 36 Next to the processed peas Bob Doughty 36 What is meaning? Janet Lancaster 37 After the rain David Borrott 38 Behind the door Maria Gregoriou 38 Il y a Longtemps Que Je T’aime Lisa Hannah 39 Bigger than Tranquility David Borrott 40
PREFACE The poems in this anthology came out of a series of four workshops that I facilitated on campus and on line during June 2009 as an Enabling New Writing project in the Pedagogic Studies route of Manchester Metropolitan University’s MA in Creative Writing. The focus of the workshops was on exploring experimental, playful and collaborative ways of writing poetry and the aim was to demonstrate that there is no need to wait around for inspiration, luck and ‘having something to write about.’ Experimentalists such as the surrealists, the Oulipo, the New York and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets have left a rich legacy of writing exercises and games which do in fact show us where to go to find poetry. Or if one insists on remaining a faithful servant of the muse then they at least provide us with something to do while we wait. In the workshops we used variations on these exercises in: surrealist collage techniques, Oulipian methods for ‘translating’ existing texts, ways to ‘find’ poetry within the language of others or on ‘poem walks’ and in collaboration both with other writers and with chance. The process and pleasure of writing and sharing new possibilities were my starting points but this anthology celebrates some of the fresh and surprising poems found along the way. Many thanks to all the students for throwing themselves so enthusiastically into these writing experiments and special thanks to Eileen Pun and Jacquie Shanahan for their help in designing and putting this e-book together.
1 The Oulipo (‘Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle’ or ‘Workshop for potential literature’) is a group of predominantly French writers and mathematicians who, since the workshop was founded in 1960, have been interested in inventing new literary forms. The central Oulipian belief is that restriction is liberating and that formal constraints therefore allow new possibilities for literature. Famous members include Italo Calvino, Harry Matthews, Raymond Queneau and George Pérec. 6
Watch it Run Time is ripe to pick - hello! behind the blackcurrant bushes. Watch it run bee stung the line of the meadow. Not a bad day. Hear it bellow! Mesh reveals punctual cows grazing, sheets, brittle toffee, questions mind should follow. Don’t talk face to face unless ... Don’t waste your phone. Be at ease, pen. You’re trying. Can’t complain, save currants for drying. Chased indians back up and have a pee like cowboys behind the blackcurrant bushes. YES. JANET LANCASTER
Perspective On a weekend, I sit with breakfast (apricots, flaked almonds, marmalade, a small glass of chilled Guinness) at the top of a silver ladder. Hobs and pots are out at this height, toasters hazardous; simmering, kneading, stirring, a no no. Vertigo is on hand, says altitude’s perspective and fear the mind fighting to fly; once we went on high power for ten to fifteen minutes. I was terrified. Fantasies have me up here and meditation, spices can start to pop. But, considering everything, it’s a different way of seeing me through the morning. ALISON WINCH 8
Minutes to describe the worst Set aside your attention. I had a friend, West African, overnight in Zigaunchor. Settle yourself into write. First I went to Dakar. They fell out, my brother and the earwigs, plane full of passengers, coming to Banjul. Can you list five aeroplanes? You are writing in the Boer War, in Liberia, under the swing at the top of the canes that held the concrete. The concrete where my father shook out my grandparents before they escaped. And they landed, on the way, not scheduled, broken out. And the earwigs, five, very quickly fighting, had decided not to stop there. Stamped them into a ghost story. Imagine anything delightful, upside down TRACEY MARTIN
Guide to Financial Instruments Today traders you will be introduced and fully versed in the use and function financial implications market appreciation wider social and scientific applications of that instrument that complex series of coincidence deep molecular significance evidence of which is beyond the most sceptical of suspicious investigative garden shed conspiracists the lightning quick age-defying death is goalposts – so we’ll move ’em! The window not just to Collage Poems
stale, similar, dull doddering tomorrow but the tomorrow you won’t let yourself dream of the tomorrow of plenty and magnificence the tomorrow of freedom and exuberance Gentlemen, I give you: The derivative BEN WILLEMS
Alcatraz How bright. How intense the flames. ‘It’s quite a small ship.’ ‘Don’t care. I do not wish to go.’ She’s hiding. Under the table. You need to plan ahead. Berlin? Hamburg? Dresden? Facing the roaring coal fire, there was no such thing as pity. Was she afraid to escape? To climb the ladder to freedom? And to real adventure? Visit the van Gogh art gallery in Amsterdam? Do some sightseeing in Sweden? ‘It’s what I want to do,’ It mattered not. We do not want the same thing. ‘ I - am – not – going! And that is final!’ Smouldering embers. Zone to zone. Finito! LAWRENCE HARRIS 10 Collage Poems
A Balloon Star A balloon star swelling with colour at each point, leans down to its shadow, an ash stuck shadow, blinking, winking, wishing to share a shade of expanding air. The Eastern point tiptoes sight to a vacant chair, backed to a table, shivering with the left over halts to action. Wanting to see what the sitter saw, I sit, touch light bouncing off walls. A spotlight hinged to a pillar flirts with me, pulls my mind back to childhood memory, when I would move to the movement of the moon, then let the moon move with me, be sure I would marry the moon, infatuated with following only me. Specks of dust get in the way, jumble up the process in my head and I become the sitter in the seat three times removed, see snowflakes fall from the tunnel of light, then a beam drenching the lead on stage, then a waterfall, then dragon fire, then back to the moon. MARIA GREGORIOU
In the month of May In the month of May that shy, gentle breeze Women bring children to someone delicate They have left their imprint, into the world. College Poems
With every breath providing, the greenness they hunt like snow tumble around us of the time begun. All the women giving a distant memory have no meaning attached Later then goes out nothing more. I would place it too firmly But it is more likely to have been If we all sat down and talk about it, we’d agree if nothing else they know one thing that Men can’t. We caught the end thought about this for a moment, just let her be. JEMIMA MANN-BAHA
A place to harden Statue of a girl, set aside like Honolulu in a cold garden. I expected wings, holding a sundial, the sort you might carefully, very carefully , rip in a minute. What if we’re dead and discarded? the extra yolk in the basin, old buttered crumbs. Weird questions right? Cold around the edge. Do it in the traditional way, in the attic, crush the philosophical bottomed cake. Build a plane and fly it, tip the biscuits, you were always fibreglass walls and they’re dead, or vice versa. I kept asking questions, to Beachy Head and back until thoroughly mixed. JACQUIE SHANAHAN 12 Collage Poems
Confession The hardest thing that standing time ever made: admitting, once, with guilt the rapid rise. Most people think the priest, every Sunday, kneeling by the side, helping them to understand, would listen. You’ve done something wrong, it’s as simple as that. But, is that it? To stir well on medium power; to control, rather than test the temperature before serving, not knowing the problem. It only needs the first person at the table, carrying all this weight, admitting a jar must be emptied. And what irony must also be remembered; what has been taken with the lid removed? Who ever saw through the glass panes a tree burn by accident? CATHRYN HERRICK Note on materials used: Memories of my childhood home based on a floor plan (Nov 2008); a conversation transcribed in a Hairdressing Salon (Nov 2007); the Hitachi Microwave Cookbook, Hamlyn (1986): ‘Reheating Food’ instructions
Tyre Pile Breathe in gently, pay attention between each. I still have one more evening, tyre fire hot in the body. Scratch our hands, don’t get away then allow them to the sun we were told would burn for days. Your mother laughed with her camera, our bare sunburned pile opened up the chest and made the holes worth moving. We didn’t think about the point. Coming through me how lucky we two little buggers were down to become. Old tyres we found, took home coated, go back. Collage Poems
What pictures then. We must widen our face, breathe in gently and just under the worn mesh, exhale. CLIVE McWILLIAM
In conversation with Yahweh Beneficiary of liquid trust, your silence rings in my ears â€“ watching, waiting, whispering in the garden and grounds of disposed hectares; waiting, watching... Are you able to do anything? You, settlor scratching my skin; sculpted member of dust and stone, centrepiece of swarming sawflies. From this distance, I see a pebble, up there in orange sky; above weeping soil cooing mercilessly against years of your ownership. The great immortal, unfathomable â€“ your promises topple and I tumble deep into marmite dungeon.
14 Collage Poems
Homophonic and N+7 versions of Pound’s ‘And the Days Are Not Full Enough’ Dan hairy-Harry tied a cook up. Len captained my lamb, tied a cock up. Dan held a bowl, asleep. Zebedee took us away young, till, dark git, he ran, rump-bit. Aftermath And the deaf are not furious enough. And the nitrates are not furrowed enough. And lightning smacks cadaver like flagellation Not shearing the groin. JANET LANCASTER
Homophonic version of Lorca’s ‘Goring & Death’ At last! Sink Oh Della’s handy I run fast - sink Oh when? Sprinto Later today? o o nan nin tra low BALANCE 16 The Oulipo
And at last sin Oh Della’s handy You are a spurting collie Prevent it? Low tones are m u r k
so murky At last s i n Oh Della’s tardy.
Homophonic and N + 7 versions of WC Williams’ ‘Red Wheelbarrow’ (i) Taint depends sober on a road of vanilla torment amber and purple iguana gentleman on a blank poll asterisks.
(ii) So much depends upon a red wrench beam-coupling glazed with ratio wavetail beside the white choke. EILEEN PUN
A New Harvest After the Catalan author Ludovic MassĂŠ A new harvest Incited birth and obscuration To swim in original mists. Territory relieves extinction with regret for the young. Preserved missiles furrow Lakes of lamentation, Raining through the offspring. A pompous tedium blankets the land. The umbrage of the smoother stock At one time shiny ignorance, Is source of decay Kindled there like ripe fruit. New lakes were set free, Outstretched like artless feelers, Facing violent voices. A product of defeated love. The land is covered, Licked with their heat Furrows traced in gold. JEMIMA MANN-BAHA 18 The Oulipo
Homophonic version of Brecht’s ‘Ich habe dich nie je so geliebt’ Each harbour ditch nigh just so, glib master Al’s vehicle fought a king, fond dear, yay numb happens, their world shocks Mick, their blower world, master Under them inner shone the blackened stern in Western standing, each lecture can climb when its car’s nicked, master. Dare each spill and dunk men sip, Sal ain’t goin’ gagging warrant shone die, get sister hinder mere long psalm a bent display and world’s fur blasting Ah, less war, shone and diesel iron, see again a bend, master gnash her nigh wider underneath, who for freely mere believing no more die gross and vocal, dying happens in Dunglen, him ‘all hunger happen. JACQUIE SHANAHAN
The Candiru He’s a minuscule blood-sucking catfish that invades the private parts; a fiendish creature of Amazonia that causes loud discordant farts. When, rarely, he can do it, he does it with a gnu; he really is the sort of candidate nice people should eschew. He claims a disability allowance (he was born with half a brain); he’s got a shed full of ASBOs for being such a pain. So never invite him into your home for a friendly cup of tea; unless, that is, you want a candiru to end up as your local MP.
Look at what flakes look at what flakes, theyâ€™d have taken sour bushes. It was dark when we heavy-based I wouldnâ€™t be removing the Armenians Mrs Sweetman How would you feel then? on for miles over a gentle partition ten chunks of meat if that was England thickened. wine and boil the jungle went well quickly until rumble we came back
20 The Oulipo
Light and Colour Dawn walks over the cliffs. The excitement of invention flashing on the surface. Changing seas and skies, and qualities of light. Am I swimming through a diamond?
Walking the Campus Platform walkways to the floor zero a rotary door to rolled granite observed by sky hung cameras under grey clouds In another space another place a walked link from either state this concrete bridge the ridge in the cobbled street Terracotta arches emblazoned with signs the lines of yellow not stopping roof topping of Verdi-gris cupolas traffic and trees Around the corner a mourner for Richard Lane whoâ€™s Doric portico remains in a different time acknowledging African Liberation in 1945
22 Found Poems
Lazimpat – Morning Vroom. Vroom. Beep. VISA Veg pakoda 60 Momos 80 All it takes Beep beep screech Note to self: write advert for homes for dogs Kerunch. Kerunch. Fair trade. This shop sells craft items made in remote villages. VISA All it takes Note to self: ring packers and set a date Ram’s tea shop. Tea tasting here Western Union money transfer Rattle rattle. Beep beep beep. Bluebird Department Store Because you are a woman McDowells premium whiskey Motorcycle car taxi microbus minivan bus jeep Beep beep beep. Note to self: only three weeks to go and nothing done. Trek-o-tek hotel Sanctuary spa All it takes VISA TRACEY MARTIN Crumpet Feeling her honeycomby, labyrinthine structures you think: she’s not too liquid, nor too stiff. As you warm to blood heat, the yeast creams, and she stirs with a vivacious turbulence, then stretches out smooth and elastic, her whole surface a mass of heated bubbles. Found Poems
You wonder why she looks about to break, so pallid and flabby, holey on top but then smooth, pale gold on the underside. She acquiesces and you melt. ALISON WINCH
Half a lifetime This idle play unravels in semi-aleatoric devices on the banks of Peckham Rye – amassed withdrawn humourless feast, rich and lush (the allusion is large) in sudden white opening out of thought. My lecherous life, devising pendants to paintings, in depths of gloom rising heavily against romantic plight, bricolage of a broken life; captured tendrils of silkscreened autumn.
‘Maria, keep clear’ Maria, keep clear, this is a no doorstep selling zone at thirty miles per hour. New time, new venue, a slimming world. Wooden sheds at Peter’s field, a palomino’s tail over the stile, kill your speed, no fouling at Whiteway House, open top Carerra on a green verge, danger of death and blackbirds. Mowing sounds on the breeze, Easyjet a startle reflex in the sky, buttercups with missing petals, and plums 24 Found Poems
so small you’d mistake them for gooseberries. The horsechestnut drops clusters of green baby hedgehogs at your feet. Wild roses blur into the pattern on your summer dress, a black Ford Focus scatters silver leaves. Two prop planes tilt at Whiteleaf Cross, brothers on the way home, past Dede Cottage, One acre and Chalk Lodge, the ducks’ incessant laughing as someone hammers a fencepost. More horses, flicking the flies off private land, the “keep out” sign posted high above our heads on a beech tree. Marlboro’ seriously damages your health, crushed by a cyclist struggling round the bend, past the barrel of salt. An owl calls out at 3pm, pigeons squabble in the trees. At the sign of rocks tumbling we take the steep footpath, picking up chalk the size of a child’s skull, to engrave our initials. The prop planes drone backwards, into a helicopter’s patter, a single black feather stands in our way. We sit on a fallen giant’s leg and you sing West Side Story it’s almost like praying, a steam train on the old Chinnor line whistles back from the same era. You collect empty snail shells. We follow two brown butterflies, speckled yellow, down the Ridgeway, past the golfers on their untouchable grass. The woman at the Red Lion says the weather is good for business, as we sip lemonade in her tangled garden. You can do yoga with Lizzie, gardening with Sow and Sow, according to the noticeboard on the flint wall. We give way in 80 yards by Whiteleaf Cottage, I once knew a girl where lobelia spills into Peter’s Lane. JACQUIE SHANAHAN
Wood smoke and mirrors Midwinter snowflakes feathers from heaven blood red on the white white as snow, black as the woods. It is true, she answered, A thousand times, let me live in the wild woods. So beautiful, the animals will soon devour you, alone in the great forest. Thorns inside sharp stones. So hungry. The masters of the house knives all standing in a row. So tired, she lay down. The first one saw an imprint in his bed. Find your way through the mirror. Careful, not everything in the same order. The woman stepped beyond the mountains a thousand times fairer. All the blood ran to her heart.
â€œMusic is the outburst of the soulâ€? ~ Fredrick Delius ~ Do you see music in the glitter of gum-spangled portrait against tarmac? or in the mottled banana skin tousled without care and will? or on silver barrels settled by glass panels of Royal Northern College of Music beside P637SDX 26 Found Poems
I wonder at the tales of folded fingers gripped over steely steering wheels soldiering past this James Brown inscription: “Music has to breathe and sweat, you have to play to live” – sprawled around classic creamy column swimming along the tide of my mental Club Phoenix.
Paying Mam’s Weekly Bills Close the half-glazed wooden door to keep draughts out of the kitchen. Clutch the money wrapped in each bill. Stamp through back-yard and side-way, scrape a finger in the salt bubbling whiteness from bricks at shoulder height. Listen as my footsteps echo in the tunnel, grope for the latch in semi-darkness, drag the door across the stone slabs. Clank shut the iron garden gate. Look left and right and left again! No cars, no lorries, no rag-bone cart, now it’s safe to cross The Lane. Go straight in Glansychan Park, run round the clump of rhododendrons, Found Poems
pass the green bench, initials scratched into its planks. Here’s the play-ground, kids are climbing on the ‘shoot’, twisting swings. Two big boys jerk the American swing from left to right, higher, wilder – pivots squeal, crying out for grease. A black dog barks in Factory Lane. A woman leans over the bottom half of her door, says ‘Hiyah!’, grins. Turn at the stone corner of the Capitol, its doors nailed up, fag ends squashed on the steps. Cross High Street, when all’s clear, and here is Charlie Evans, greengrocer’s shop, open one half of his double door, hear the jangle of the bell. Wait my turn next to crates of apples, stare up at hands of bananas hanging from hooks in the cracked ceiling. Charlie’s hair shines in tight curls, over his freckled face, he calls me ‘Love’. He’s weighing King Edwards, adding tarnished pound and ounce weights. He tips the spuds into a sack, jokes with the woman at the counter. I’ll do Hodders the butcher next, and Stevens the grocers, - maggoty bacon on the slicer, sawdust on the floor. They’ll mark the creased slips ‘Paid with thanks’, and I’ll be off to our shop to see my Dad, my uncles, Grandma - and she will hug me and there’ll be sixpence to spend in Belli’s ice cream bar. Good morning, Mr Evans, Here you are. JANET LANCASTER
28 Found Poems
Northern Quarter Burlesque bohemia mushrooms in the backstreets around Shudehill and Victoria station a corset of feathery white noise gutsy tempo until the early hours when the pulse ebbs beneath bubblewrap pods as if daring a pin-prick to syringe its skin, to release apocalyptic whiteness beneath blurred footfall beat of outsiders and those lost inside this quarter of Northern time.
Dry Riser heel echo wet street smell Fifty years of the Cuban Revolution year one French Horn and someone whistles swim for free 05 Czech bar diesel tick music box School of Architecture tennis shoe with yellow flex gold hybrid chubb foam laughter from a hood line drawing of a swan - elegant in blue this plaque unveiled to Panda Caledonia 03 laugh do not enter swim for free fold of tarmac and fire door. CLIVE MCWILLIAM
30 Found Poems
CHANCE & COLLABORATION
What happens when we let it all go? The sound of you singing in the shower stops me, I see empty coffee cups but never you, we’re too stuck in work and a commuting routine, and I ache for softness. We need to pause in the spaces we speed through, split the seconds and make them still. We could slide inside a moment and let it overflow; let’s retreat behind the shower curtain and hide ourselves from view: See plastic daisies? The drops on their leaves look like dew and when the sun sparkles through frosted glass they hold rainbows. We have time and buckets: waterfalls first, words can come later.
In the space between love and indifference In the very back of the lowest drawer, They lie in the earth, like the spoor of the Furies. It is impossible to sleep when there’s a plane to catch the next morning. - Why is communication so difficult ? - It’s a spurious way of justifying your world view. - Why is there always stuff to do? - Because it is your heart’s desire. - Why do I always do the wrong thing? - Where did you get that idea? - Why are you so difficult? - No answer. He turns over and goes to sleep. Where have all the heroes gone? They all hide in the shed, seeking out the odd socks, At the home of the thingahmeejigs. 32 Chance & Collaboration
She lies there unable to shut the systems down, unable to switch off. - Why are we so full of contradictions? - All instruction manuals are essentially incompatible. - Communication a fallacy. - What is the point of it all? The old plum tree is boundless. She should really be making jam. Levels of obesity are high. I blame potatoes. Just get yourself a glass of still water or ultimately A swimming hat. - Why is there never enough time? Where are the spinach patties with blue cheese butter? They didn’t have them for supper and He would never have thrown them away. The fridge was empty but for half a kilo of carrots. Why does skimmed milk have a red top? Even they like to be seen as individuals. - Where did I leave my instant recall? He turned over and continued sleeping. Where do our shadows go to when it’s not sunny? Why do snowflakes all have different patterns? What are snakes for? Where do mosquitoes live? Where are the buttercups from? Why is a moon in a dewdrop? And where are all the bees? Nature and nurture are always at war together. What is a life well lived? It’s saying Yes to good, No to bad, and spicing things up with what the hells. Why am I not someone else? - Wherever you go you take yourself with you. She opened her eyes, - Who said that? What is the point? Chance & Collaboration
What makes the world go round? Where can we find happiness? Where can I buy love? Well, certainly not from IKEA. - Did I pack my passport? Itâ€™s in the wardrobe under the old coats, or Left in the last space I rushed through. - What am I aiming for? - Where am I rushing to? - What is an exciting new post? What happens when we let it all go? What is at the end of a rainbow? Where is the sensation of inner peace? She gazed at his back and beyond at the wall. Life is too short. Where does death go when you die? Do the questions stop then? Where is purgatory? It is already there In the space between love and indifference. JEMIMA MANN-BAHA
What is real time? I blame potatoes. They close their eyes and hide in the shed, the home of the thingamyjigs justifying their world view to half a kilo of carrots,. because levels of obesity are frighteningly high, because lightning can strike twice in the same place theyâ€™re scared of taking their feet off the ground, they tell us to help ourselves because life is so short. 34 Chance & Collaboration
Where did you get that idea? Well, not from Ikea. It’s just a way of passing the time, in the space between love and indifference.
Lost 1 Please! Can you help me? I seem to have mislaid my instant recall. Come to think of it, I must have lost it years ago. Trouble is, I don’t recall where. Or when. Or what I was doing at the time. Or who I was with. Or… But it’s gone. Oh, yes. It’s gone alright. And I’m so miserable without it. I feel, well, so inadequate. Some things I recall. Silly unimportant things. Trivial things. Like the name of my favourite single malt whiskey, (which I’m forbidden anyway). And for some reason – and don’t ask me why – I am able to remember the names Of football teams. Teams from years and years ago. Like Birmingham City. The season 1945/46: Merrick; Duckhouse, Jennings; Harris, Turner, Mitchel; Mulraney, Dougal, Jones, Bodle and Edwards. There! See? Not bad, eh? But, please, don’t ask me to recall what I did yesterday. Or to remember the names of my children. Or how many grandchildren I’ve got. Or which school and university I went to. Did I go to university? Fortunately, since the local council stole my home from me, and sold it, To pay for my B&B in this dump, I don’t have to remember where I live any more. But memory? Long gone. Most of it. Not all the time. But sometimes. On bad days. Bad days are when the nurses won’t help me with my food, and they shout at me. And I get flustered. That’s when I’m at my most forgetful. Yes, memory’s long gone. Gone! Along with the ability to walk without a frame. Gone! Along with the gift of sight without spectacles. Gone! Along with being able to hear what’s on all-day TV. Must I wear that wretched Battery powered gizmo thing in my ear? I hate these memory lapses. I really do. It’s so humiliating. I was sick the other day. Sick on the bed. And matron shouted at me. It was worry that made me sick. I was worried because I couldn’t find my wallet. I reckon one of the nurses has taken it. They do that sort of thing. In here. And sometimes, even if I find a door left unlocked, And I can escape for a walk on my frame, it’s not much better on the outside; Chance & Collaboration
Because I meet gangs of young people, gangs who call themselves Hoodies. And these Hoodies, boys and girls, they jeer at me, just because I’m old and a bit slow. And they say nasty things like ‘Fought in any good wars lately, granddad? ’Or ‘Out for your evening jog, granddad?’ I pretend not to hear because I know something they don’t. I know that one day, and sooner than they think, one day, well, even Hoodies grow old. And then it will be their turn to know how it feels to be frail and slow. And a bit absent minded like 2 Some of the old wrecks in this place, who can also say daft things sometimes. I heard old Nancy No Teeth sounding off the other day. About death. And life after death. ‘I do not fear death,’ she was saying in that dreadful scratchy voice of hers. ‘Oh, no. I do not fear death. It’s the indignity in the dying I fear!’ What a load of cobblers! If you ask me, with her looks, it’s the indignity in the living she should be fretting about. Only complete fools are unafraid of death. Even wise men and scholars don’t know. How can they? Silly old bat. We all fear the unknown. Don’t we? I know I do. Now, where did I leave my instant recall? I still can’t lay a hand on it. Thanks anyway. For listening. Looks like it’s really gone and done a runner this time. Just like my wallet. Sorry if I’ve been banging on. And boring you. What I do know, though, is that if there is Consolation in any of this, it’s the certainty that these daily confusions distract From thoughts about an eventual finality.
Closing your eyes and jumping… you feel the rush of air brush your face as you fall time caress your body as it slips past motionless past emotion and passion holding you tears wiped from your eyes by passing thought. Now you know how long is life. BOB DOUGHTY
36 Chance & Collaboration
Next to the Processed Peas sitting there on the shelf next to the processed peas draped in stickiness from the jam pot wrapped in cling film coated and shabby unwrap it carefully it shines sparkles with freedom grows from the mediocre matures and now lives the shelf remains as do the processed peas shading the open space where it lay dormant before answering the question’s call ‘where do poems come from?’ BOB DOUGHTY
What is meaning? When you laugh in the right places, when you cry just as I’d hoped, when the route I mapped is your road and the landscape one I shaped? If your finger bleeds from the razor I strop, and my poison burns your throat without swallowing a drop, am I getting near the mark? Or are we leading diverse lives? Is the script obscured by ink-blots? Do you slow foxtrot when I jive, or try to fly my ocean-going yacht, like that day I stood lost at the Tate, St Ives, in a hall strewn with kilos of carrots?
Chance & Collaboration
After the Rain After the rain the trees let go slowly drop by drop, under them the cats are at the bin bags, black with viridian eyes; evening light presses hard onto the wet streets, windows televise the sky. Poetry is a heady substance it makes pavements jut forward like harbour walls, makes puddles a torn photograph of the building opposite, makes you notice the excited scent of damp bushes. A fly hits my ear; Speke in Africa, had a beetle eat through from his ear to his nose, whilst searching for the source of the Nile. Cars form a segmented worm at the traffic lights, they seem so certain about where they are going; the corner shop swallows two women; a bus running on, sprays the sidewalk like a big cat marking its territory; the puddles creep back again. I am leaving myself out. The sky is an umbrella about to be folded; all the windows yearn. DAVID BORROTT
Behind the Door Dorothy knew where home was: Over there, over the rainbow. But when I ask the open space, twisting and nodding its face, It simply says â€˜behind the door.â€™ So if it is so and there lies where all my whys can rest, must I close the door first, 38 Chance & Collaboration
lock myself in, only know this home? And what comes about when I canâ€™t sleep here? When the man under the floorboards peeps through the hole, up to me, and doesnâ€™t understand privacy? Do I fight with the colour purple? Do I dilute into the yellow wallpaper? Do I ask for a room of my own? And if I do not find God hiding In any of these lights and darks, do I dare trip myself up into the shed, say I am bringing in coal, wood for the fire place, lard to stop his heart? And what am I to do when the mad woman in the attic takes my innocence, my polite practice, turns my home into a nuthouse? What will I do when she snaps flames from her finger tips? Is total ruin the only way out? Is this what you call home? MARIA GREGORIOU
Chance & Collaboration
Il y a Longtemps Que Je T’aime Why am I doing this? I was too busy remembering after-sun and bread and apples and tomato and cucumber and eclairs and jam tarts and yoghurt. Will I get a letter? You are your own competition. What will I learn? Kristin Scott Thomas Can you live with the truth? Because friends affirm who he is. Why didn’t I buy press studs? Because I love the learning. Will Gina get to Cadbury’s World with Jeffrey? Where poems come from. You can if you know truly know it. Who was the actress in Il y a Longtemps Que Je T’aime? Oh yes, by September And why doesn’t he look at me?
40 Chance & Collaboration
Bigger than Tranquillity The universal moon suffuses its bouquetit is larger than Wittgenstein’s ideas, larger than red and blue mixed together. It is not a burnt hole or a traffic light, it is round like a mouth, like a courier’s satchel but this time there is a fine line between my heart and that late flight of ducks, purring like a homeward engine, over the Taj Mahal Curry House. It is a roundabout glinting in the dark park that is how you like it, that is because I say so, that is finally in time, not skipping a beat, since they told us in New Zealand, on New Year’s Eve, spitting the political words out, as slowly you lit your bad and mousey smile. DAVID BORROTT
Chance & Collaboration
David Borrott lives in Ribchester, Lancashire with his partner and their three sons. His poetry has appeared in various magazines and in an internet anthology by Flax Books, the publishing arm of the Lancaster Litfest. Bob Doughty was born in Liverpool too long ago to remember. He wrote his first poem at the age of ten, although he didn’t know it was a poem at the time. Re-discovering his poetic side around the time of a major trauma in 2003, he has since attended a number of poetry workshops and is currently completing the final year of a Poetry MA at MMU. Writing mainly in an imagist style, he also experiments and recently started combining original artwork with his own, fellow students and internationally known poet’s work including Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage and Michael Symmons Roberts. Maria Gregoriou is an English/Cypriot writer whose writing is forever split between a Mediterranean and British background and mentality. This cultural and, sometimes, spiritual line in the horizon of the self, makes her poetry alive with story telling. In a work where there are two halves feeding off each other, there is only room for a true love of poetry. Lisa Hannah lives and works in Liverpool and most of her poetry experiments with free forms, using odd combinations of language to create shape and texture. She works from notebooks and photographs and chooses words that create distinct voices to surprise the reader, or else, confirm something true. Lawrence Harris is a journalist who, since retiring, has published novels for young readers and completed a Fine Arts degree. As a correspondent for national newspapers and the BBC he travelled widely, reporting for both television and radio and making documentaries for Radio 4. Poetry, he says, is the final lap on a long journey through the worlds of words. Some work is set in the past, in childhood and formative years; but life as it is today, with social observation and political comment, remains high on his agenda. Cathryn Herrick is a retired teacher educator living in West Yorkshire and studying part-time for an MA Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is currently working on a novel for young adults set during the early years of the Roman occupation of Britannia. Cate writes poetry for pleasure and is interested in the use of poetry within schools regarding children’s social and emotional development. Janet Lancaster is in the final year of the MA Creative Writing (Poetry) online course at MMU. Originally from Wales, she now lives in Rutland. Her poems frequently reflect her Welsh origins and personal experiences. Discovering Oulipo methods has stimulated fresh ideas for poems. Translation engines and N + 7 techniques proved to be particularly good fun!
Jemima Mann-Baha has been writng short stories and prose fiction since leaving university. To earn money she has worked in teaching, catering and human resources. Prior to the poetry workship at MMU attempts at writing poetry have been for the most part in French. Her poems included in this anthology are the first she has written in English for quite some time. She lives between France and Morocco with her husband and three children. Catherine Mark is a trained secondary school teacher but currently works as an FE teacher. She teaches Business and English courses at a private institution. She is completing an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and is working on her first collection of poems. She has an eclectic range of interests including knitting, photography and sailing. She lives in Manchester with her husband Joel. Tracey Martin was born in Leeds but now lives in Bangkok. Travelling and reading give her plenty of opportunities to ‘find’ poems. She has had poems published in Poetry Life, Aesthetica, bewilderbliss and the Poetry Society News. Clive McWilliam is a Landscape Architect and lives in Chester. In 2008 he won the Virginia Warbey Prize and third place in the National Poetry Competition. He has been highly commended for the Forward Prize and has had poems in The Rialto, Magma and Poetry Review. He enjoys walking and middle distance staring. Eileen Pun was born in New York, USA and moved to Northwest England after studying international relations at the University of Florida and Lancaster University. Her work has been published in several magazines. She has recently completed a traineeship in publishing supported by Arts Council England. Jacquie Shanahan is an architectural publisher, with a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department. She almost gave up writing poems at the age of 10, after winning an uninspiring book called Something to Make in a poetry competition at school. She has participated in poetry readings at Blackwells, and her poem Song Thrush was published in The Grist Anthology of New Writing in 2009. Jacquie is working on her first novel, while studying for an MA in Creative Writing at MMU, Manchester. Ben Willems recently moved to Manchester and often finds poems develop from unwelcome political or social situations and personal setbacks. He says, “these sessions were a great chance to learn new techniques and baffle my sensible use of language with obscure and unhinged dimensions. What emerged was a more immediate version of my normal poetry”. Alison Winch is editing an anthology of mystical poetry by women. Contributors
Published on Jun 12, 2010
An anthology of experimental poems by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) MA creative writing students...