Cherish Your Churchyards Week! And Poems about Carshalton…

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Apparently it is Cherish Your Churchyards week– the things I find out from BBC Springwatch… It is and here are some of the reasons why we should Cherish Our Churchyards…

  • They often contain a rich diversity of plant and animal life.
  • They are important places for archaeology and history.
  • They often have distinctive and veteran trees.
  • The stonework and boundary walls provide a home for a mosaic of mosses, ferns and lichens.
  • They provide a tranquil place for quiet reflection.
  • They are a resource for inspiration and community learning.

Recently I went for a walk through All Saints Churchyard in Carshalton, with a couple of writer friends, Neil Horabin and David Russomano, as part of a drift around the village after work last Tuesday.

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We are currently writing poetry about this historic town and its connection with water, for a poetry event at The Carshalton On Sea festival, which takes place from Friday 19th- Sunday 21st June.grave2

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The Water Poets event takes place at the Cryer Theatre, Carshalton, on Saturday 20th June from 12-1pm, and is FREE!

I will be posting some photos and writing about Carshalton in the run up to the festival.

The Launch of clew

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On Saturday 18th April, at the Duke of York pub in St Werburghs in Bristol my first pamphlet, clew, published by Hesterglock Press, was launched. This was along with Sarer Scotthorne’s first pamphlet, The Blood House, and Paul Hawkins’s first full length collection from Erbacce press, Contumacy

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l-r: Sheer Zed, Sarer Scotthorne, me, Paul Hawkins

As part of the Bristol Spring Poetry Festival this was a wonderful evening of us three poets coming together to read our work, and celebrate. Sheer Zed, a  fantastic multi-talented electronic musician, provided soundscapes to some of the poems, and a great set of his own work.

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It was a pleasure to be back at this lovely pub in a corner of the city that I spent time in occasionally when I lived in  Bristol many years ago. Strange and synchronistic to be back reading poetry and launching my first collection here, after ten years to the month of leaving. Also, to be supported by dear friends living there, who I have stayed in touch with, and amazingly, to have four brilliant mates from Wales drive across for the evening! And to meet and chat with new people in this friendly, vibrant place

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Sarer and Paul gave superb readings, hugely talented performers, and unique voices in poetry individually, as well as the partnership behind Hesterglock Press, which also publishes the vital Boscombe Revolution / Bosc:Rev magazine. I was chuffed to finally meet with Sheer Zed too, who I have been communicating with on social media for a while.

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I’m so grateful to Zed for composing soundtracks for some of my work. As someone who started off many years ago by singing in a band and making experimental music, it was really exciting to ‘out’ my frustrated vocalist and have that additional musical dimension to my work. I hope we get to work together again.

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There are plans to do a similar event in London but not sure when- keep an eye on the blog for details.

In the meantime Sarer and Paul’s work can be found via Hesterglock Press and Paul’s web site- I wrote a brief review of The Blood House, and have since spent more time with it and I would recommend you do so too. Here is Andie Berryman’s review of it. I have also read and re-read Contumacy, and it contains my favourite poem from last year which I return to over and over. Steve Willey wrote a great piece about it here.

Back on the 21st March, Sarer and Paul appeared on Jude Cowan Montague’s radio show, The News Agents on Resonance FM. Sarer beautifully read my poem, The Cleaning Cupboard, which was published in issue 3 of Boscombe Revolution. It’s a great programme with Jude and co-host Alice Foster discussing Hesterglock Press, and talking with Paul and Sarer about their work, including Paul’s up and coming publication, Place/Waste/Dissent, which is going to be published by Influx Press in October 2015. Listen in here!

Submissions to Bosc:Rev are open for the next issue- more info here.

Listen to some of Sheer Zed’s amazing remixes of poems by Sarer, Paul and me here.

You can buy my pamphlet clew here.

“Read ‘clew’ for a window on our times and a reminder of how poetry remains a resistant art.”Siobhán Campbell; poet

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The Blood House, Sarer Scotthorne

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This is Sarer Scotthorne’s first collection, published by Hesterglock Press in January, a ruby which dropped into my palms at the Bristol launch of Boscombe Revolution 3.
These poems demand to be read in one go; the pages are bursting with movement, quaking with emotion and physicality, fighting to break free of their constraints.
They wrangle with the stuff of life, of our closest relationships: grief and anguish; disappointment and despair; longing and desire. There is no holding back – the language is forceful, honest to the point of brutality, making for a challenging but visceral one-sitting read.
Scotthorne negotiates the loss of her father, the shock of the grief, invoking the myth of Oedipus in in her sequence, Poison
“down the lead pipes, rattling the fragments left in shattered windows.
A token from his once industrial; I bound a shard of glass and searched
The urine-scented halls until found his sleeping body on a shock of Ragwort.”
From Scene 1. Alone
Imagery juxtaposes machinery and corporeality, combined with inner city landscape; the decay of industry, concrete images of the mix of human detritus from sweat to beer cans, with perennial weeds- nature’s creeping into the liminal spaces we barely notice but recognise as part of our environment in contemporary urban life. Places of transformation.
Saraswati Murmurs, which is beautifully scored on the page, offers respite from the aftershocks of grief and seems to be a point of letting go:
“step                        onto soft mud
and slipped        under the water         I wanted         turned
water     my      body…”
Blood runs through this collection as the red thread of life. Cold metal and warm blood. Blood as a signifier for wounding and loss, of fear; blood as a threat; blood as heat; blood as contamination; blood as life; blood as acknowledgment of a beating heart, of reawakened desire; as life giver and as revival.
The Blood House is a courageous journey, pulsing with truth. Read it.

Out-of-body-in-the-flesh: Seeing Coil Play Live 10 years ago

At the time I was still married, still living in Bristol, living a completely different life to the one I have now. Since 2002 I’d been on a path of re-discovery, of working out why I was feeling so out of sync with myself. There were lots of reasons…seeing Coil was another piece of the puzzle falling into place, if you’ll forgive the cliche.

I’m not sure when I first heard Coil- it was some time in the late eighties, and it was probably ‘S is for Sleep’ from The Elephant Table LP, which my boyfriend of the time had.

I remember him coming home with the Horse Rotovator LP and it changed everything, and profoundly influenced our own music-making and thinking. After that we bought all the Coil music we could. I still have my vinyl copies of Scatology, the Hellraiser themes and a signed copy of Windowpane, amongst other Coil goodies, all stashed in the loft, waiting for the time when I eventually have space for them again. I’m not a completist and apart from a few bits and bobs on cd I don’t have many of the recording they went on to make in the nineties and early noughties. Besides, my life changed and I was no longer making music, although I was still being creative in other ways from time to time.

Hearing Coil play live was something I never thought I would get the opportunity to do, to see them performing out-of-body-in-the-flesh.

The closest I got to meeting them was years before, when I wore my John Crancher shirt, emblazoned with gold devils, to a gig we were all at, maybe Meat Beat Manifesto, and they had joked that they wouldn’t release their next record until I gave it to them (I didn’t) …

They played the Ocean in Hackney, long since gone, on what I remember as a hot and dusty Sunday evening. Where my ex was desperate to leave by the end of the gig, I was desperate to stay to the very last, even after they’d finished, and ‘Feed the Birds’ from Mary Poppins was blaring out of the PA. I’m very thankful I got to see Jhonn and Sleazy play live- it was as beautiful, disconcerting and transporting as I had hoped it would be. RIP.

Magick moments.

(The Quietus wrote a great piece on Coil in 2011 to honour the first anniversary of Peter Christopherson’s (aka Sleazy) passing. Find it here)

 

 

 

That’s not how I remember it!

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On the 25th June, one month from today, I am delighted to be doing an event, That’s Not How I Remember It!, with Alison Baverstock, as part of the Kingston Connections Festival of Stories. I will be talking about writing memoir, my poetry map Amniotic City, and my latest project, Over the Fields, a memoir about a piece of local greenbelt where generations of Furlongs have explored and played as children. Here is the official blurb from The Rose Theatre’s web site, where the event takes place. Hope to see you there!
Lucy Furlong is a creative writer who is fascinated by the effect that place has on us; how where you grow up affects you at the time – and impacts on your life in future. Alison Baverstock has recently written about how to manage highly personal writing projects – and what to do with them once you have finished. Should they be shared or left in a drawer for others to discover in future? This event offers a fascinating opportunity to consider both the writing and sharing of work based on memory.
Lucy Furlong recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston and her work has been widely published. Dr Alison Baverstock is Course Leader for Kingston’s MA Publishing and has written about the mechanics of writing and publishing.
Prices £5 and £3 concessions. No booking fee , £1.60 transaction fee.
Free to KU students, staff and alumni. (Ticket still needed)
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Venue: Rose Theatre Gallery.

 

February #SmallStone

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A day of believing the hype: buds on trees, blue in sky, windows open for fresh air, energy to have friends over for lunch; I will make something of this paper, I will make something new and feel good about it. One day we’ll have a space in the city to dance in.

a gift of a morning teaching young children how to play with words and have fun. I can’t remember a better one. I wanted to go home and tell my mum.

a Gordian knot of resolve and frustration. Is this it? I hope that one day I will pull the rope free of the bind and move on into a new space.

an ancient woman in Frank Thomas bike boots throws chunks of bread at a wall on the corner of a street in Tooting; shouts toothlessly, picks up a scrunched up ball of paper from the scattered bread. Pigeons lined up on the crumbling wall above, look down on her quizzically; I look away, remember my last trip here was to buy material for my wedding dress. Fourteen years passed with no reason to return, till I pass through this afternoon, on the way to somewhere else.

attempt to embrace clods of shit, look at them through kaleidoscope, they disappear into space while you count stars before bedtime.

calm descended on the house this afternoon,  the year starts to form its shape, a few hours removed from worry, watching the storm from a safe spot, for now.

controlled demolition/ invisible construction by sleight of hand/ mute communication of desperation. Concrete boots  contain the gift of a straw to keep breathing. Just.

dog blanket and smoke stink bus, see inflated rain coats billow through smudged windows on the way to the hospital; told to come back when its worse. Walk past the Turnmills site and remember those nights, then- and now move on to cramped, joyous poetry night Wa Dem Do replaced Super Sharp Shooter again.

flash fast blue- the halcyon shimmer lives here in dull space between petrol-choked housing estate and grid-locked no-dream dump. It dives and soars between land and water, brown and grey, never stops its journey; finds fish in the future but now hungry, sight fogged in silt flood churn

homeless at home still bites occasionally, Hokey cokey weather sunshine boy’s bike ride blows away frustrations, surprise marigolds greet me with their seventies upholstery colour scheme. What are they doing here now, in the flood? The river rushes on.

 I could burst like a balloon any moment, cause a flood, ruin a scene, spoil the moment, drained forever, a fool, a failure at making a judgement. I don’t trust my heart. I walked away from home, from a chance of connection. Rationalised away in fear of discovery that: I am right about myself.

increments to normality: rolling pastry, roasting vegetables, appreciate eating. Still no patience with a recalcitrant son; Atlas is holding up my To Do list, but he can’t do it for ever.

 investigating frustrations and paralysis in space; time shifts, un-sticking personal tectonic plates; but I hold onto frustration at the table instead of letting go and trusting you will work it out.

lapping black mood buffered by experience : a mindful voice says in the middle of darkness- there will be a different day, where you don’t feel a mess, a failure, a vague fuddled weakness. Counting the good things in each day is the light to guide along the path.

my body is telling me to rest, all the warning signs are there, thumping wheezy chest, heavy head and grumpiness – these are the times I am desperate to do more – when will I learn to listen to my trusty vehicle, instead of pushing it to breakdown before recovery?

planet rendered to its marrow, assets stripped; inhabitants gleefully minced ; lungs compressed, water putrid.                       Investment mansions, inherited mansions, empty mansions, festooned  mansions, derelict mansions.                                                                 Luxury penthouse apartments built on sites historically reserved for the discounted, decanted and leprotic. Stink of polish, lilies, ordure and meat remain in great halls of tastefully accessorised cannibals; fuck plastic, eat oil.

small stones become cairns, dams, bridges, buildings; given time who knows what we can construct with present pebbles.

ten of Stones. Home . Building minus blocks . Anaglipta walls concave in . This is not my house

the alley became a pine forest, carpeted in burnt needles, rippled over the fractured concrete and sludge. Needles shored up against subsiding pebbledashed fence foundations, pooled in front of the wise woman’s cottage, a patchworkof of greens, moss cavey home for She Who lives at the edge; a  garage door in need of paint.

the invisible pugilist plants another right hook, uppercut, avoid the rabbit punch, least-expected sucker punch; no Tomato Can. Throw in the towel, dancer.

walk of word games; blue angular sunshine; white blossom rockets into the sky. Spend the day on the big push through undergrowth, searching for permaculture; community vision through a telescope to my one good eye.

we wish on the silver sliver of moon – I won’t tell you in case it doesn’t come true – I wish for good health and a return to my regular run – we run alongside the park railings –you point out lines of symmetry-trace them accurately in metal.

what is love for – what does it do? I realise I have no idea any more for myself. Few hours I felt real attraction.  Inhabited Home again briefly, as a person I recognised after a long absence, in a place I recognised as a life, after all those years.  From wandering alone to knowing the coordinates of the whole city, with company. Mutual; I hesitated, mute.

More about #SmallStone

I started the #smallstone project on the 3rd January this year, after seeing a couple of friends had decided to write a small poem every day as part of Writing Our Way Home’s Mindful Writing Challenge. I managed to write one every day after that and was surprised to find I had quite a large collection of lines of poetry by the end of the month.

The idea was to notice something every day and write about it, as a way of being mindful, (for more details see here) but I found myself writing a line or two, aor a sequence of words, which summed up my day in some way. Some of these are literal, e.g. events on the way to and from the school run. However they have also described feelings and memories in more abstract lines, and I wonder if this moves some of the ‘small stones’ away from their original intent, although I understand them, so maybe it’s ok.

It has certainly helped me to feel more rooted in each day and consider what has made an impact on me. I have found myself wondering if what is happening at that present moment will be the ‘small stone’ for that day.

Like any writing exercise it has also been great for flexing some creative muscle, so I’m going to see if I can keep it going for February…

Found Poetry Project at Housmans Bookshop

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Since January I have been visiting Housmans in Kings Cross to look for ‘found’ poems in the £1 Book Basement of this famous radical bookshop. Housmans have very kindly allowed me to rummage through the goodies in this section, which is currently being re-organised moved into a new space. You can see my progress on the In-Hous Tumblr I have set up to track some of the finds and investigate the process of ‘finding’ poems out of the old books and pamphlets.