poetry

Umbrellas of Edinburgh – podcast

click on me to hear
The Umbrellas of Edinburgh is a book of new poems, covering a wide range of city scapes.  The Scottish Poetry Library has taken some of these, read by their creators, and made them into a podcast which lasts about 43 minutes.

Each brief poem is written specifically about a different place, ranging from well known central landmarks to deprived outer city estates.  The voices in your ears will take you to a variety of places and times – including the resident who remembers catching his first glimpse of Rolls Royces in his street, during Festival time.

A delight to hear, and it will give a flavour (if ears can have tastebuds) of various parts of the city.  A great addendum or introduction to a visit.

 

Poems about Photographer Lee Miller

Jacqueline Saphra has written a series of sonnets about the colourful (even in black and white) life of Lee Miller: “A bargain with the Light, poems after Lee Miller”.  This book has 17 days left to sell a few more copies to raise the sum to publish it.  It will be in a limited edition of 300, each signed by the poet, and containing photographs by and about Lee herself.

Jacqueline Saphra explains what inspired her to write the book – unfortunately the still frame chosen does not reflect the interest of what she says!

Who is Lee Miller?

Lee was a pioneer – a New York model who went to Paris to learn how to photograph with Surrealist pioneer Man Ray (whose muse she became), a Surrealist artist in her own right, together with her husband Roland Penrose they were friends of Picasso, indeed hosting him on rare visits to Britain (where their young son famously bit the artist).  Lee also knew dark times as a survivor of childhood abuse, the obssessive love of an artist and her own work as war photographer including the liberation of Dachau concentration camp whose horror marked her.  An extraordinary woman in extraordinary times.  She both observed and recorded it in her camera but lived through it in a way only she could.

War Photographer

This video (below) takes you round the very exhibition which inspired Jacqueline Saphra to write the book of poems.  Our guide for this is none other than Katie Adie, BBC war correspondent, a TV broadcast journalist with a lifetime of reporting war and its atrocities.  She was a byword for covering the most difficult and dangerous overseas assignments – “They’re sending Kate Adie in” was a jokey expression in common use –  meaning that things in an area must now have become incredibly violent and dangerous if Kate was being despatched.  Because of her own career, it’s very appropriate that Kate Adie shows us around the War Museum’s exhibition.

Lee Miller’s house and Photographic partnership with Man Ray

Anthony Penrose, son of Lee Miller, takes us around parts of the family home and explains the photographic and personal partnership of Lee and Man Ray (he is recording this specifically for a forthcoming exhibition of Man Ray’s works).

 

Further Creativities:

Read:

I hope that by this point you are seriously considering purchasing a copy of the book “Bargain with the Light”.  If the poems and photos intrigue you to find out more, there are a few biographies of Lee Miller

See:

Visit Farley Farm House in Sussex, where Lee Miller lived with her husband Roland Penrose – it has a wonderful address: Farleys House & Gallery, Farley Farm, Muddles Green, Chiddingly, East Sussex, BN8 6HW

Their house had many famous artist visitors who were also friends:Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Man Ray, Leonora Carrington, Antoni Tapies, Eileen Agar, Kenneth Armitage, William Turnbull, John Craxton and Richard Hamilton  – and the house is full of paintings and photographs by not only Lee and Roland but by their visitors.  There is also a sculpture garden.

“For the most part the house is just as it was when it was occupied by the Penrose family. Lee Miller’s kitchen looks as though she has just popped out to gather vegetables from the garden and Roland Penrose’s study only lacks the aroma of his cigar smoke.” – House website   http://bit.ly/2llmO00

 

Taste:

There will be a surrealist picnic at Farley House on Sunday 27th August 2017, 4-7 pm  – limited availability so you must book (£10 each) and you are encouraged to dress in a Surrealist way and bring surreal food:

Bring your own picnic, bubbly, blankets & chairs for a late summer’s evening in our beautiful sculpture garden with stunning views of the South Downs. Advance booking is necessary as tickets are limited.

Picnic Suggestions: Pink cauliflower breasts, blue pasta salad & Muddles Green green chicken.

Or what dish could you invent which would be suitably Surrealist?

http://bit.ly/2fjIok2

 

Create:

You may want to feast your eyes on the house, to get inspiration for your own interior decor, colours and art.  Certainly the house is a great example of living with vast quantities of visual art and books in an interesting yet informal and at-home way.

Even if you live too far away to visit the house, Anthony Penrose has written a book The Home of the Surrealists: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and Their Circle at Farley Farm House” (published last year, 2016)

Try writing a sonnet about someone whose life you greatly admire?

Make a Surrealist photo of a friend or a family get-together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry, noodles and animation

As you know, this blog likes to mix its ingredients of art and life, so putting together poetry, noodles and animation this morning was the work of a moment.

Exhibit A – the poem is “Making Mines Frires” by Dominique Ahkong and if you pop over to http://bit.ly/2vm5ZEk you can read the poetic description of the family-making of noodles for the dish.  (from Cha: An Asian Literary Journal)  It includes phrases such as:

“My mother and grandmother trickle water

and crack runny suns into a powdered white well.

They whisk and mix until the walls collapse.”

(very recognisably a description for making pasta – but what genius to describe eggs as cracking ‘runny suns‘.  This simple and beautiful descriptive poem gently hints at family dynamics and cultural expectations and norms, too).

When the pasta machine slices the noodles into running ribbons, the writer describes it as “”like limbs in a Ghibli cartoon.”  Dominique was born to Mauritian parents in London, and now works as an animation writer in Singapore.

 

Exhibit B: the food – Mines Frires is a classic noodle dish of Mauritius and you can see it being made here in this video.  The noodles have already been made, sadly.  Now you’ll have to excuse me, as I feel an irresistible urge to go and eat noodles, suddenly……

The absurdity of writing/not writing poems

If writing a poem seems absurd – still, why not?  Perhaps it’s equally strange not to write? Our encouragement to write, today, is from Nobel poet, Wislawa Szymborska of Poland

I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.

These few lines are taken from her poem, “Opportunities” – and a lovely example of her (more…)

Poetry/wonder (Lucille Clifton 1936-2010)

Happy Birthday, poet Lucille Clifton.  We celebrate you; your arrival and what you made, in the time that you had.

“The mistake teachers sometimes make is that they think art and poetry – they think that’s about answers and it’s not about that, it’s about questions.  So you come to poetry not out of what you know – but out of what you wonder.”

(more…)

It’s Raining, dancing

It’s raining stair-rods and chairlegs,
it’s raining candelabra and microwaves…

It’s raining jellyfish,
it’s raining nuts, bolts and pineal glands,
it’s raining a legion of fly noyades,
it’s raining marsupials and echnidae,
it’s raining anoraks in profusion.
It’s siling, it’s spittering, it’s stotting, it’s teeming,
it’s pouring, it’s snoring, it’s plaining, it’s Spaining.

from the poem, “The Black Wet” by W N Herbert

And this is the poem just getting started.  I was reminded of it when I looked and listened to the relentless rain, today, bouncing off paving slabs and fluttering in the guttering.
I was introduced to this wonderful crazy list poem by an anthology of modern poetry, Anthony Wilson‘s book “Lifesaving Poems” which I have very much enjoyed.  Too soon (more…)

Doing the Knowledge

I am doing the Knowledge – of world poetry.  (Today, it’s poet Moniza Alvi)

“Doing the Knowledge” is a phrase used normally to describe how taxi drivers learn the map of London by going through it, so they know routes to take their passengers there.  I am exploring the little-known-to-me or unexplored writings of poets
from outside the British Isle.

Guide Book

My guide and basic map is a book with 4 DVDs “In person: world poets” filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley of Bloodaxe Books.  Fifty-nine poets are featured, and they have also been videoed reading their poems and giving some small introduction.

I happened upon the book when I recently visited a large chain bookshop (but, nevertheless, a genuine real-life shelves/stairs/cafe bookshop).  And there I confronted my own mortality: 4 floors of books…. clearly there was no way that I
could read them all in a lifetime, even if I began immediately and did nothing else for the rest of my life.  (As if to underline the mortality idea, the sign in the shop was classical temple design and therefore unfortunately looked like the entrance to a mausoleum).  As with all unconquerable projects, you just IMG_3052.jpgmake a sigh and make a start.  So I dived into the poetry section.

(more…)