The shout

20 10 2015

Birthplace (Glyn Maxwell)

She traced her forefinger beneath each line,
as slowly and deliberately as one learning to read,
stroking the skin of the page
so the words stood up like tiny hairs.

‘The task,’ I said, ‘is to make it louder
by hiding some of the poem in the dark.’
But she stared down at the marker pen
as though it was a bullet or a spent shell,
its damage pre-empted, permanent

and, instead, closed her eyes.  In her dark,
she shadowed out the sounds of classroom chairs
being clunk-stacked on the tables, the goodbye bell,
the ‘don’t run down the corridors.’
The poem and the pen and girl were gone
when I returned to the room after bus duty.

‘This poem is about silence, not shouting,’
she tells me the next morning, while the class,
cold and uncaring, slip from their slick coats
into echoing conversations.

Her markings have devoured the poem
so the silhouette that remains is skeletal;
bones she has spat are now shards,
the remaining ribs sharp and dangerous.
All the flat noise has been carved from the paper

and when I rub my finger over the scars made
by her scalpel, to gauge the gulleys there,
the wet marker pricks my fingerprint with ink,
and the sentiment sinks into me anew.





World Poetry Day and The Chester Literature Festival 2015

17 10 2015

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Step 1: Find your favourite poems (the ones that you have gathered and nurtured and given and have given unto you)

Step 2: Photocopy them onto coloured paper, hand out the scissors, put some chopping/thrashing/paring music on

Step 3: Watch the carnage spread from the desks to the floor – imagine the cleaner’s face when she sees the devastation

Step 4: See young pupils handle old words with a freshness and fearlessness

Step 5: Acquiesce, permit them to leave with their poems and that snaking promise they’ll ‘finish them at home’

Step 6: Look at their proud faces, their proud poems, feel a little lighter about life

FullSizeRender (5)  (A ‘found poem’ based on Tony Harrison’s ‘Long Distance’)

FullSizeRender (6) FullSizeRender (7) (A ‘found poem’ using Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell poems)

FullSizeRender[1] (A ‘found poem’ using Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Seal’ and ‘Hippo’)

FullSizeRender (4) (A ‘blackout poem’ using Glyn Maxwell’s ‘The Birthplace)

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(Blackout Poetry’ using Luke Wright’s ‘Ballad of Fat Josh’)

Step 7: Take the new poems to their original creators, ask for kind words and signatures, return them to their new homes