World Poetry Day

It is world poetry day so I will attempt to say something about the most important thing in my life. I attend poetry events up to several times a week. In good spots I write a couple of ok poems a week or more. I run workshops for all kinds of groups. With Stirred Poetry and Becca Audra Smith I am constantly discovering new poets and supported and encouraged to take my verse further than I imagined. I actually kind of struggle when people say they are not into poetry at all or think it is not for them. I have referenced this scene when people say they don’t know any poetry: I believe we all carry jumbles of poems in our heads for some its one or two for us obsessive its hundreds of scraps or whole poems swirling about in there.

Despite my misgivings about the current widespread co-opting of performance poetry techniques for advertising which has led to John Cooper Clark one of our most well known performance poets advertising chips on telly. I do love it when poetry gets a mention in pop culture of late we have had several films about Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Kill Your Darlings. We had the ever wonderful Ben Whishaw and his lovely fringe playing John Keats in Brightstar and when he played Freddie in the much underrated The Hour he quoted E.E Cummings:

It is nearly NAPOWRIMO (national poem writing month for the initiated) a month which along with acrostics and misogynistic performance poetry are the few things which can test my love of poetry. I have never managed to write 30 poems in 30 days and the same happened when I did small stones as currently I am not in a situation to make a living from poetry life gets in the way. In the first year I tried I gave up when I wrote a haiku about trying not to write a cat poem. You can see it on this blog. It was bad. I hope now I have enough faith in my work to just get back up and try again the next day and write a better poem.

Poetry is what I turn to when things stop making sense, or when I am so angry I can’t speak straight. I sometimes get struck by the utter beauty in a three line poem. While preparing a workshop the other week I was trying to find a poem to look at with a group and was transfixed by this one by Diane Di Prima

Fog: San Francisco

it grows dark

at lunchtime

in this land of no summer

For years I had a poorly written out version of this poem by E.E Cummings taped to my wardrobe:

Much as I do write longer more simple performance poems I have always been drawn to the power of brevity in poems and increasingly the effect movement of text can have. Plus I don’t think poems need to make sense. they just have some kind of truth and that can a beauty of sound or evoking an emotional response. I will continue this years plans of working with text placement on the page however wordpress is not the best format for this.

Ahead of Mondays Stirred Poetry event themed around ‘’Shout’’ about making women’s voices heard here is a poem of mine based on a Diane Di Prima Revolutionary Letter #66 To The Patriarchs I reversed it so it spoke of love.

My body repels weapons

My thoughts are shields

My tits are shields against trident

My strong thighs squeeze out fear

My hips are bay of safety for ships

I look out from the lighthouse of my cunt

My peace is radiating from that inner light

My love is swelling my plush bloody heart

Beyond the borders of my body

No matter who wounds it still it spills out

My lips are mouthing the words of love

Ballooning and rising in the sky

Cross aeroplane trails

they are blocking satellite signals of hate

The ripple of my orgasms is unseating hate

All future hate

All is future love.

Please join us at 3MT this Monday at 7.30pm on Oldham Street Manchester for a celebration of women’s voices and poetry. For more information look here:

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Poems From Today’s Workshop At Creative Cafe

Today I ran a workshop focusing on cut ups and Centos a Cento is formed entirely from other poems:  I used poems by some glorious Manchester and other poets Sarah Pritchard, my poetry partner Becca Audra Smith, Cheryl Martin, Adam Lowe  and myself alongside Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima and Bishop (will check later if I missed anyone)

Here is the Cento:

I’m transfixed by the gravity of your bones

you ruined my appetite

scrap soon, scrap soon

attention to her body made ornament

a futuristic bath versus terraced times

whose gemstones teach

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent

the narrowest canyons have their pictographs

I include below some of my creations. After doing a pure Cento I started cutting up the poem lines we had used into single words and with the help of spray mount and putting up with very sticky hands (I will take some photos when I have good light) I made the two poems below:

The tea mark left my master

electricity… wherever the flowers with

laddered attributes rustle its evident

hear the language of the Pomegranate

big spill over the absence of lves

thru voice a fresh sleeping love flows

I knife the peaks all of

dreaming even spoons speed hard

losing bombs once I lied

and the room valleys out

the feet gesture taking stars

eating root creating a river over

most tights how high her act

still legs takes mornings verdant

not enough world and guts

my joking alters like a skin birdsong

will see graffiti and someone

my door mouthed the losing

2nd poem

Fighting disaster marked like crying

inspired petals litany, nudity

lying lovely deep landscape long

beautiful gravity by oar

accept rusted lovely empty cities

bowl humming watch realms

miss by kayak hill badly, hard




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I was on the open mic for tonight’s flim night a longer post will follow but for those interested here are my poems sculpted from interviews with Lindsay Lohan and her speech. links to the original interviews included.

I’m not a girl, not yet a woman

She has pulled in $67 million at the box office with ther new movie Mean Girls, finished her first pop CD and, as she insists, not had a boob job. Gill Pringle meets Lindsay Lohan, the new teen queen of Hollywood

To be in a position where you’re always going to be compared I lay out in the sun under an umbrella. I fell asleep I was covered but the sun shifted and it started hitting me. So when I woke up I could barely move. I got second degree burns on my stomach and legs and first degree burns on my face. I was hysterical – crying and bawling, I was on the phone crying: “I need you, Mom! I’m 17 years old. My mother would never let me. I’d be deathly afraid, and it’s unnecessary… but I’m glad people think I have a nice chest. People dramatise every little thing I do,friends read about me calling and being, like, OK, I know this isn’t true, but I just have to ask… ,’Umm, gotta go,’ No! I’m not dating anyone everybody’s taken or too old. I prefer 24-year-old guys and that’s not legal.

  • Mean Girls is released on 18 June

The Observer’s faces of 2014

I needed to grow up It was such a diligent thing, ritualistic, It’s been hard for me to adjust. I didn’t know what to do apart from go out every night, that’s when it became difficult. I can go for a run here on my own, my friends in New York would still be up partying. The first time I have ever been on a vacation by myself. I just wandered about on my own! I turned off my phone. It was so extraordinarily freeing for me. Like another life out there. Friends tell me shit I don’t want to hear. I don’t even know all the stuff that is going on in the world right now and this gossip is the news? I haven’t heard myself mentioned on TV since I have been here. No way was I going to miss a show. I was sitting there beforehand seeing spots in front of my eyes. I had a plan: if I felt sick on stage I was going to faint, play dead, pretend it was part of the script. On a film set there have been times when I really hated it, just wanted to stop and be home. I should have done that. I got used to meeting people who would seem genuine but often they would have other intentions.

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Fog Edit

I have edited the poem from the previous post as from experience wordpress does not preserve the spacings of more experimental poetry forms I include it as a PDF


I am hoping the up/down nature of the text hasn’t made it unreadable.

Any editing suggestions welcome.

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Word Blurt From This Evening

There was a thick fog this evening and this happened.

I watch a thin young man in just a shirt box his own ear on the shutters near my work he walks off before I can/dare reach him and I cycle off avoiding the tram tracks in this all engulfing fog the kind I forgot can cloak a city and I rehearse what I wanted to say to him, ask where his friends where, tell him to go home and sleep it off, whatever it is drink, drugs, self-hate, a heady mix of all three, just stop that awful racket of flesh and metal, ask him to be careful when he crosses the road. I assume he has people who care and a home. And I wanted to say the fog has found me this year again and I don’t hit but I hurt too and flail and wake in the night rattling door handles and unplugging appliances from sockets fearing electrical fires in the night and my synapses torture me in dreams with such violence that my lucid mind jolts me from them as protection but I am still here and you deserve to be too even when the fog surrounds you inside and out. I am trying to love myself even as I resort to that decade old habit of sticking post its to my alarm clock because the fog keeps misting my thoughts taking the day’s plans from me in my hard worn sleep. I take the body I am trying to love, thanking my thighs for their speed tonight home through the fearful fog and thank the body for getting back on the bike after every fall and wrong turn, for taking me to the flat safe and thank the mind for feeling fear and still pedalling through it.

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From Humbug Workshop

this came from a freewriting exercise we wrote from Moniza Alvi’s line ”I could take an icebird”
and used the words ”etching” ”whisper” (whoops I missed that one) ”domain”, ”ship”, ”breath”
my thanks to workshop partner for this half who actually felt five minutes free writing was too short. Next year when it is with the right group and I am in the right headspace I would like to try doing extended free writes possibly with more input or lines to hang the words on. This is the current poem from the free writing

Ice Birds
The kind you find etched on your window
b r e a t h i n g as they melt
as the sun weakly shines
there are songs only the ice birds sing
notation for those who take the time to notice it
you have often wondered where an ice bird keeps its nest
where they fly outside the pane
trapped beauty for your late nights
with vast windows and inadequate curtains
gifting you a moment to focus on something other than
rolling mist of your breath r a t t l i n g leaves in your lungs pinched joints
the ice bird reminds you there is flight, is sky,
that you have been on ships with hopeful whirling gulls
over deck and you thought you saw porpoises
in the small ferries wake the last time you left the island
in the watery domain a flickering trick of light
you felt no need to make sense of their existence.

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WW1 Event At Manchester Library

Tonight I was very honoured to be reading at a WW1 poetry event as part of Flapjack press alongside some amazing poets Tony Sheppard, Gerry Potter, Sarah Miller and Ben Mellor here is a poemI wrote especially for the event.

For the Radium Girls who suffered radiation poisoning as a result of painting dials for glow in the dark watches for American service men in Europe during WW1 Their ex employers claimed they all had syphilis instead of the occupational condition called radium jaw. Their legal action set precedent for employers responsibility to employees suffering from occupational diseases.

They painted glow in the dark dials for the new wristwatches
Accuracy in the dark for American soldiers in Europe’s trenches
The radium girls who painted their teeth to amuse their beaus
Soon lost them their jaws and voices too
They were branded faithless and diseased

A brazen glow of a lie from men who knew
Their words carried more weight, gold weight
Who would rather cast women into disrepute
Than admit fault as war profiteers

The bitter luminescence was known as UnDark
Taught to point the brushes with a kiss or a tongue
When scientists were shielded gloves and tongs
They knew about the match girls in London

Radium is absorbed like calcium a tricking poison
Bones that lived for thirty years then dissolved
Lie in graves with half-lives of five hundred

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