On the last day of our latest visit to Berlin we changed trains at U-bahn Westhafen and discovered this visual feast. Artists Françoise Schein and Barbara Reiter re-designed the station in 2000, using the 1948 text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, juxtaposed with quotes from Heinrich Heine in German and French. For more information on the artwork and the project click here.
One more reason to love Berlin.
I nearly fell off my chair when I read the email from those wonderful people at Structo Magazine, who had written to say they were nominating my poem, Lunch in Ars en Re, for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. I am so glad I ate lunch in Ars en Re that day… it was a very fine lunch too- in fact here is a picture of it…
The picture above is a photo of a photo in Bristol’s wonderful M Shed, which I visited recently for the first time with my son, when we were staying with friends for the weekend.
I lived in Bristol from 1997 to 2005. I moved back to London nine years ago today. I loved living in Bristol – my love was for the city as much as it was for my ex, my friends and life there. I was hopelessly head-over-heels for Brizzol…
I did not expect to see this photo, lump-in-throat time, as I stood for a moment on my own, everyone else busy looking at the Bristol Dinosaur or playing on the old omnibus. The shop in the picture is my old corner shop, Solanki’s at the end of Gwilliam Street, where I used to live, in Windmill Hill. The kind of shop where you would pop in for a paper early on a Sunday morning, and queue up to pay behind someone who was buying 20 fags and a two litre bottle of White Lightning. Solanki’s, a legendary shop in its locality- and now making its mark in the museum.
In all the years I have been feverishly writing long pieces of psychogeographical memoir, poems and stories, I have only very briefly touched upon my time in Bristol, which was mostly very happy. I came away from this visit knowing that in the next couple of years I am going to finally do the writing I started to plan over ten years ago, when I was still living there. It won’t be this year but might be next. Yer’ tis…
I enjoyed the Small Stone exercise but have been so busy with other writing and poetry-related activities that it has fallen away to the roadside as I have jogged on, trying to keep up with myself for the last month.
I’m about far enough away from the experience of my last year at university to have the beginnings of some perspective on it. A vague way of saying that I think I have come through the worst of the MFA-dissertation-and-teaching-qualification madness I succumbed to.
The dust is settling after a total of five years of full time higher education and it feels good. For a long time afterwards I was rushing everywhere, panicking about not getting things done on time, until one day, quite recently, I realised I can set my own agenda now. There is, at last, more time for other things apart from writing assignments.
I feel happier than I have done in years.
Apart from that though I have been feverishly filling up that time with writing projects….of course… More about those and other stuff soon.
The Imaginarium, Millenium Square, Brizzol
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.