Writing Workout (30min) – Disruption as Opportunity

My mantra this year is disruption as opportunity, as someone that spends a lot of time planning, for a long time, disruption to that plan caused me immense anxiety. But at some point, I think it was when I learned about liveness in performance – the idea that if a crow were to fly on the stage as I perform my poem, I should acknowledge and incorporate the crow as apposed to ignore and fight it (because the crow was not in my said plan). I can still plan, edit meticulously, spend years on a poem, but actually if I want that poem to be delivered in an exacting way I can publish it or make a Youtube video but a LIVE performance is kind of about disruption, is a about a finite moment within which anything can happen. This shift in perception, that I stopped waiting in fear for something to go wrong and starting excitingly anticipating an opportunity for change, serendipity, surprise, growth has made me a much happier human and better creative. 

So, todays writing workout is all about embracing disruption which is kind of ironic because out of all the workouts I have posted with definitely went the least smoothly!

As always, I will be keeping dyslexia in every draft as evidence of my human-ness and also because sometimes they typos are more interesting!)

 

  1. Initial free write 10-15MIN – you can do less if you want of course but I actually needed this time. Write non-stop, no editing, re-reading etc. but every line must end with the words; but, if, cause, or no. (I actually stole this from Too Far, by Dizzee Rascal which I am currently analysing for my grime-poetry show). I find this so hard, I have actually kept some notes I made to myself in the free write to keep me going…

Freewrite

 

Sometimes I dance on speakers but

That doesn’t mean I don’t have a degree so

I also like reading poetry on the central line but

I can still listen to bashment at the same time but

That doesn’t mean you can touch me there cause

My body still belongs to me.

 

(stop telling Deborah start showing)

 

I’ve never been in a fight but

I did once smash a mans head against a speaker cause

He tried to grab my punananananoo cause

I was moving my waist freely and

Headstand on the speakerbox so

must be fine to grab ‘er up so.

 

I’ve never given anyone head but

A 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once, said I would rather lick the floor cause

I hate being backed into a corner when I just want to dance so

He said he could head but me sharp, so

I said cool give the police a reason to come cause

I’m tired of man having this mentality and

I can jump in your DM’s when I got a girlfriend cause

If you call me out on my comments but

What’s rong with you girl I was just joking yeah, so

If I screen shot this and send it to your misses yeah?

I’ll be a drama queen cause

I’m a feminist and even I’ll call a girl a slag cause

If I’m tusty, blusky, horney and

I can’t grab a man without feeling guilty but

I’m new to this but

People like to speak to a blank slate so

Girls toilets, Mac Donalds, Queue of Oceana so

 

(SKIIIRRRRRRTT – felt like this wasn’t going somewhere… need to gain some traction).

 

 

She’s next to the DJ booth but

She’s just laughing, face so open it’s like I want to walk in but

My hips are like that drunk toddler run; excited, unaware of space and vibrating but

Her eyes slice through people but

The whole room is usually staring at me but

But but but but but but, gender neutral toilets

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING

But me and George are kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY, but

George just felt like he needed to but

I did too and you curl up in the porch of your own house but

Both doors are locked and you are hugging your knees like a giant soft toy turtle that helps you sleep but you can’t sleep cause you are crying until blood vessles pop and there is so much red over your skin, colour shifting like a tongue under a hard boiled sweet and

They are inside, and they open the door, and they bend down to pick you up but you are too heavy they they have to squeeze into the porch with you and you feel like one of those glass boxes with all the Pixar toys in, one on top of another, waiting for a giant metal crain to try and get you but at least you have eachother, the softness of your bodies.

 

 

EDITING –

…. Keep what has weight

… if it’s too hard I just cut it (still got it saved in the draft above)

10min

 

2. Editing Phase 1  – 10min. I really feel that free write made no sense for me, so I needed an initial 10min just to read it, cut anything that made NO sense and expand on the images/ideas that felt fruitful for me. 

 

Sometimes I headstand on speakers but

I also read Heaney on the central line so

I’ve never been in a real fight but

I did smash mans head against the DJ booth cause

He reached for my punananananooo (or

phanoola as my god daughter calls it yeah)

 

I’ve never given anyone head but

A 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once, said I’d rather lick the floor cause

I’m tired on man having this mentality and

He can jump in your DM’s when

he got a girlfriend cause

If you call him out on his comments but

What’s rong with you girl I was just joking so

Should I screen shot this and post it yeah?

Why you gota be a drama queen uh?

 

People like to speak to a blank slate so

Girls toilets, Mac D’s, Night queues so

 

She’s next to the DJ booth but

drunk toddler run but

But but but but but but,

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING But

me and George are kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY, but

I curl up in the porch but

both doors are locked I’m are hugging my knees like a giant soft toy turtle that helps me sleep but I can’t sleep cause I’m crying, popping bloody vessles and there is so much red over my skin, colour shifting like a tongue under a hard boiled sweet and

They are inside, and they open the door, and they bend down to pick you up but you are too heavy they they have to squeeze into the porch with you and you feel like one of those glass boxes with all the Pixar toys in, one on top of another, waiting for a giant metal crain to try and get you – the softness of your bodies.

 

3. Editing Phase 2: Be savage/ cut out as much as you can/ and don’t be scared to stick whole words and phases together that once were in complete different stanza’s. Play, disrupt, surprise yourself/ Choose a set stanza length (I have gone with 3 line stanza’s) just to give you a format to edit into.

 

I’ve never been in a real fight but

I did once place my hand

flat on the side of a strangers head, and smash it

 

bounced

off Perspex sheath

encasing the DJ

 

He’d reached for my punananananooo (or

phanoola as my god daughter calls it). I’ve never

given anyone head but

 

A 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once when I was 15, I said,

I’d rather lick the floor cause

I’m tired

 

girls toilets, Mac D’s, night queues

drunk toddler run but

But but but but but, BUT

 

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But

me and George were just kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY. But

 

I flat pack myself into the porch so

I can close both doors

hug my knees like giant soft toy turtles that helps me sleep but

 

I can’t sleep cause I’m popping bloody vessels

so much red, my colour shifting like a tongue under hard boiled sweet.

They are inside. And They open the door, and

 

They bend down to pick me up but I am too empty

So They have to squeeze into the porch with me and

I feel like we are in one of those glass boxes with all the Pixar toys

 

one on top of another,

the softness of your bodies

to light to claw, grab or lift.

 

 4. Actually Draft: Give it a title/ CUT EVEN MORE/ change the stanza formation to something that feels like it has logic, I have chosen something irregular but symmetrical(ish) to hold this stream of conciousness.

 

A Real Fight

 

I’ve never been in a real fight but

I did once place my hand

flat on the side of a stranger’s head, and smash it

bounced it

off the Perspex sheath

encasing the DJ.

He’d reached for my punananananooo (or

phanoola as my god daughter calls it). I’ve never

given anyone head but

a 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once when I was 15, I said,

I’d rather lick the floor cause

I’m tired

girls toilets, Mac D’s, night queues

drunk toddler run but he said maybe I wanted a head-but

(and I thought, go ahead, then the police have a ‘real reason’ to come) but

but but but but but but but but but but but but, BUT

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But

me and George were just kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY. But

I flat-pack myself into the porch so

I can close both doors

hug my knees like giant soft toy turtles that help me sleep but

I can’t sleep cause

so much red, my colour shifting like a tongue under a hard boiled sweet.

They open the door, and They

bend down to pick me up but

I am too full of fog, so they squeeze

into the porch with me and

I feel

like we are in a Perspex box

with 30 odd other soft toy turtles

the clouds of our bodies, sweets in a jar – too light

for a claw, or fist or child

to grab, grope or lift.

30min Writing Exercises for Intimidation

If you haven’t hear this big life news about my debut show –

I’m happy to announce that my debut show (the completion of the #grimepoetics development over the past year+) has been commissioned by The Royal Court Theatre and will be in there main theatre space in 2018. As a dyslexic 17 year old from a working-class background I guess I always felt I had something to prove. Maybe that’s why I worked so hard to be the boss of all my often seemingly impossible dreams. So to have such a massive institution, known for world class writing, not only champion me but offer up bigger dreams ambitions than even I can conceive is mind blowing and testament to the power of this massive journey of self love and care. Before it felt like if I didn’t work every hour of every day nothing would happen – but now I’m more efficient when I am working as a result of rest/love/dance etc. I’m clearer on who I am and the work has come to me! I HAVE A LONG WAY TO CLIMB (picture Segway) but I am building the strength and team. 

But with this comes INTENSE INTIMIDATION looking at the blank page like WRITE SOMETHING BRILLIANT DEBORAH – GO. When I know that isn’t how it works. So I am trying trick myself with tasks and timers to write, and exercise my writing brain to not worry about brilliance but instead experiment and explore.

So every day, before I start on a show related writing thing, I set myself a writing challenge. Today this was it…

  1. Freewrite (write without thinking, caring, stopping or editing) for 10min to music you love but wouldn’t usually write to. For me this was Soca.

 

Thick fish, sardines fed on feather bowers.

My pelvis is a goat skin drum.

Finger nails pulled, crushed and mixed with white paint

So the walls of his house can shine.

 

I found a box jellyfish in the bath.

I found out you hadn’t been swallowing your cealial,

Just storing it in your cheeks like a hamster.

 

I killed my second hamster with a cheese overdose.

They had to put it down, I wepth over is translucent albino body

From the back middle seat as it lap in my own hands like a prayer to santa.

 

My dad slammed the break, Hammy hit the front windscream

And my parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head in a Portuguese swimming pool at 30.

 

Maybe I should bathe in cocpops and oat milk before I die.

Should I go to that nude lane swimming session in the neatherlands.

Or should I finish that poem about how I left my mum so fast

 

It tour her like snot through a napkin. Should I say I am sorry

Even though I didn’t ask to be here.

 

Sometimes I think I am made of the sofa left on the balcony in the rain.

That held up our adolescence so we had somewhere to laugh and hide

And bellow varing shades and textures of green.

 

I want to wear ankle socks more often. But I feel nervous.

I feel nervous. I knew I stopped smoking week for a reason.

Because I think Evil looked like Kermit the frog.

 

And I was really unsure about the consistency of my own socks.

You know, the important stuff? Like doing the splits between two

Caucasian boats on a Canal in Amsterdam at pride.

 

Waking up with purple shins in the smell of 16.

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s.

I want to lick the back of your hands like a cat.

 

I want to Watt’s App you 18 times whenever I feel sad.

I am going to start texting myself instead.

I know how to use a condom.

 

Well actually I don’t.

I don’t need to, do I?

Has anyone ever been eaten alive by house ants?

 

I feel like a red velvet cake on the pavement.

All red food colouring and no taste.

I want to be on ceramic or washed away.

 

Drafting 10min 

For me this is whilst having a particular focus on patterns, lineation and sense, where can I break the line, delete text, add things, rearrange things to gather some instinctual sense of meaning. What was my subconscious trying to tell me when I wrote this? For me, on reading and editing I was getting a sense of death, sexuality, family and male/female sexual dynamic alongside domestic animal imagery which I was trying to consolidate somehow…

 

His thick fish shimmers as if

fed on feather bowers. My pelvis

is a goat skin drum. His body bobs

like death underwater. Bound

cotton covers. Finger nails

 

pulled, crushed, mixed

with white paint, so the walls of his

house can shine. He hasn’t been

swallowing his cereal, just storing

it in his cheeks like a hamster.

 

I killed my second hamster

with a cheese overdose. Put it down,

I wept over is translucent albino body

the back-middle seat of Mum’s Skoda.

Dad slammed the breaks,

 

Hammy hit the front windscreen

parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head

on a miscellaneous rock in

a Portuguese swimming pool. Maybe, I should

 

bathe in Coco Pops and oat milk before I die. I left

my mum so fast it tore her like snot through a cheap napkin. Should I

say I am sorry even though I didn’t ask to be born. Sometimes

I think I am made rain filled sofa. I want

to wear ankle socks more often, but

 

I feel nervous, because I was really

unsure about the consistency of my own

socks. You know, the important stuff? Like,

doing the splits between two

 

Saucasian canal boats at Amsterdam pride. Waking up

with purple shins and the smell of 16 everywhere;

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s. I want to lick

the back of your hands like a cat. All of you

is so paw-like. I want to Watt’s App you

18 times whenever I feel sad. I know how to use a condom. Well actually

 

I don’t. I don’t need to,

do I? I feel like a red velvet cake

on the pavement. All food colouring,

no taste. I want to be on ceramic

or washed away by a sober, vomit scented, spring Sunday morning.

 

Sharable Version (10min) editing again but more savagely

How hard is each word/line working, is it essential, if you were reading this as a paying audience member/reader what would stay in your brain. + Choose a title and send it to someone you like/trust/know will challenge you to read (depending on what you need). 

 

Miscellaneous Rock

 

He hasn’t been swallowing his cereal, just storing

it in his cheeks like a hamster.

I killed my second hamster

with a cheese overdose. Put it down,

I wept over is translucent albino body

the back-middle seat of Mum’s Skoda.

Dad slammed the breaks,

Hammy hit the front windscreen

parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head (just 30)

on a miscellaneous rock in

a Portuguese swimming pool.

I left my mum so fast it tore her

like snot through a cheap napkin.

 

Should I say I am sorry even though

I didn’t ask to be born. But

I’m waking up with purple shins

and the smell of 16 everywhere;

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s. I want to lick

the back of your hands like a cat.

I know how to use a condom. Well actually

I don’t. I don’t need to, do I?

His red velvet cake on the pavement. All food colouring,

no taste, waiting to be washed

away sober, vomit scented, spring.

 

Hope this is some kinda helpful, Debris. x

p.s. Photography by Tom Morley 

From UK to T&T – Who do You Want to be?

So about a year ago I made a 4 year plan under the instruction of Charlie Dark – what do I want to achieve and who do I want to be by the time I am 30. I wanted to post a picture of it but it coveres; dance, poetry, performance, publishing, music, self, drawing and family so there are a few quiet personal things on there I didn’t want to announce. It is colour coordinated and each point also has a timeline of achievement and immediate to do in place.

I also made a daily to do list on top of that, because in the past I have become so focused on long-term plans I stopped enjoying my life on a daily!

Daily to do:

  1. Write.
  2. Dance, Physio or Exercise.
  3. Swim or Stretch or be present – let yourself sit in joy or peace.
  4. Performance/ Vocal Practice.
  5. Have space for compassion/ time for others; a stranger or a loved one.
  6. Spontaneity – let what could be a distraction become an opportunity, what could be seen as a disturbance becomes serendipity (this means these 6 things can go out the window sometimes!)

The balance between those long-term goals and every day enjoyment is essential for me – Coming to Trinidad and Tobago has always been a dream and though I am not entirely sure about laws of attraction this is the second time I have said I WILL GO X PLACE AT X TIME and then I have been booked to go!

So this is a summery of my balancing act for my 6 out of 7 weeks here, hopefully it will inspire you to look back at what you have achieved, sit in what you are doing and/or look forward into what you are working towards.

I have:

  • Been tasted by 475 mosquitos.
  • Made a poetry/dance film at the top of IMG_0326.JPGa fire tower with the insanely talented, efficient, calm, honest (and hilarious) Pippa Riddick
    .
  • Facilitated a week of #TalkingDoorsteps workshops culminating in a show and 17 poetry films and show in an amphitheatre in Lopinot (Cafe Mariposa) for Roundhouse, British Council and The 2 Cents Movement with support and reflective insights from Debo and Joe Hakim.
  • Written poems I thought it would take my whole life to crack into.
  • Performed to thousands of Trinbagonian (wait is that correct?) students via the PSI Caribbean across 10 schools in Trinidad.
  • Created a show in a week with Deneka Thomas, Marcus Millette, Seth Sylvester, Kyle Daniel Hernandez and Micko Burnard Logie.
  • Had countless conversations with young people who want to see real change around gender based violence and are not scared to challenge, innovate and questions.
  • Facilitated 4 out of 6 foundational training sessions for the core Artistic Force of 2cents and been pushed as a facilitator/ educator and artist.
  • Danced, spoken, opened and learned from Ariana Herbert on a daily basis – not to mention gained a new family across the world in the form of the beautiful Herberts.
  • Learned daily from the powerhouse that is Jean-Claude Cournand – reminded of the power, beauty and humility that can be contained in one human.
  • Taken about 4million selfies with students and signed a good 50 autographs (Jokes).
  • Laughed.
  • Cried.
  • Grieved for my grandmother, who passed away the first week I got here.
  • Connected with my family despite being half way across the world.
  • Celebrated my dads 60th.
  • Had a real conversation with my Mum.
  • Learned new dance moves.
  • Got the second X-ray of my life.
  • Finished a funding bid.
  • Evaluated a funding bid.
  • Started collaborations with Bridie Squires and Ash Er.
  • Curated a show for the Southbank Centre – Gyal in da Corner.
  • Felt at home with Isaiah McClean, Donald Modeste and Kars Logic.
  • Brainstormed with the powerhouse which is Marina Salandy Brown  Bocas Lit Fest.
  • Trained 5 times a week.
  • Started my Yoga practice 2-3 hours a week.
  • Stolen movement ideas from the legendary Hannah Silva.
  • Got 3 steps closer to a headstand.
  • Got my straddle splits back.IMG_0774.JPG
  • Been serenaded by a stranger with a guitar on a beach.
  • Become 80% coconut water.
  • Drawn for the first time in a year.
  • Replaced by hands with peacocks, courtesy of Thad
    dy Boom.
  • Become a paint pallet.
  • Danced on top of a cooler in a flood as the sun came up.

 

Lets see what this last 11 days has tIMG_0954.JPGo offer. Already planned; toe recovery (reason for x-ray), Mass with Fantasy, Jouvert with Dirty Medics, Machel
Monday, my second ever tattoo, 3 new tunes and a second draft of the Poet in da Corner Script

What intensions you setting?

10min Writing a Day…

 

I am trying to write for 10mins a day at the moment. In fact I have a daily to do list on:

-Write.

-Practice spitting (as in emceeing on a beat).

-Exercise/stretch and or dance.

This is all in the name of seeing what happens if I commit the majority of my life to the research, rehearsal and creation of my art. I particularly liked what came out today on the Transgender day of Remembrance… thinking about gender, body ownership and other stuff… Feel free to give feedback or response poems if you like!

No one can finger you better than you can

Arvon Writing Aerobics 7. Is all Poetry Autobiography?

(Snippets of conversation with Mouthy Poets and writers Caroline Bird & Roger Robinson at Arvon Totleigh Barton, Tuesday 8th December 2015.)

Caroline The truth is not the facts. One of the reasons I started reading poetry is because I would try and write down everything that happened in my diary then read it back and think ‘that isn’t what happened’… the facts are the least important thing in a way, sometimes it is all about the texture. Often you need to find something hyper-real to talk about how it really truly felt. Anyone that asked if it’s really true is an idiot.

Your dreams are a life experience – all the cinema behind the curtains behind your eye lids are your experience.

Roger Some things are insignificant to some people but to you they are hyper significant. You have to make decisions about art; how you are starting, what goes next, what is the form and you have to know that you are doing it.

Arvon Writing Aerobics 4. How do you deal with the fear? The fear of an idea…

(Snippets of conversation with Mouthy Poets and writers Caroline Bird & Roger Robinson at Arvon Totleigh Barton, Tuesday 8th December 2015.)

Caroline You have to keep playing, the worse thing is when you say ‘THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT IDEA’, and it stops you going in the back door of the idea and exploring it. You have to keep playing and never be afraid of writing loads of rubbish because otherwise you are going to paralyse yourself that you need to say something right. You need to know that that nothingness is vital, rather than thinking there are so many answers here that I have to find. Let the idea go much further than you think it will.

Arvon Writing Aerobics 2. 7min x 7poems with Caroline Bird

On Day 2 of Arvon, Caroline Bird gave us an intensive series of 7 minute long writing exercises. So if you want to set aside an hour to bang out seven poems, I recommend this as an intensive series of exercises. I have given the beginnings of my own for each task just to give you an example of the kind of thing I mean.

The rules to all these exercises:

  • Be bold.
  • ‘When you are at the top of a blank page, you have to punch up into the nothingness, you have to trust in the continuous I don’t know.
  • So get your timer ready…

 

Poem 1. – Backwards

  • Establish an event you play over and over again in your head
  • Take the event and tell it backwards:
    • Focus on the visual of the backwardness
    • Think about it as a film you are rewinding
    • How does it alter how everything looked?

 E.g.

A wave retracting from a cliff face,

my hand fizzles from the fracture

between his drawstring bag and his spine,

our legs step back in time and synchronised,

Poem 2. – Future

  • You are going to write this story again
  • But you are going to tell the story as if it hasn’t happened yet ‘you will’… it hasn’t happened

E.g.

You will mistake the rain

for fireflies, turn off your iPhone

watch them falling. Pause mid-air.

You are in the eye of a firework.

He looks at you, points at a tree

 Poem 3. – Magic Eye Pictures

  • Think of an object you always encounter at least once a day; a bed, a cigarette, a shoe etc. write down the first thing that occurs to you; a mouth, an eyelash, a beer, eyebrows, a belt etc.
  • ‘Let yourself roll down the hill, start small and trust that you will gather’
  • ‘Keep writing, this is not one you can do with caution.’
  • ‘The unlearning is based a lot on the length of this poem…’

 E.g.

Loose belts, tight belts, gentle shuffly belts, broken belts, shucked belts,

balcony belts, thrift store belt,

belts that remind you of your mother, Father, brother,

lover belt, straight out the sea wet denim belt,

thumb belt, bum belt, straight out the shower late for work

belt. Absentee belt, low-bat belt,

running for the bus and fall to the ground

belt. Heroine belt, matching belt, black belts,

Poem 4. – The Room of my Life

  • You are in your bedroom – if you have just moved house, go to an old bedroom, you need to know it well and it should feel like yours.
  • Describe this bedroom, letting the objects live and breathe and become new things.
  • Surprise yourself; don’t be scared for things not to make sense.

 E.g.

There are six identical boxes under the bed

Filled odd socks, underwear, bedtime t-shirts,

soft toys that smell of bleeding gums

and a sandwich bag filled of dental floss.

Poem 5. – ‘To say no to the taste of whiskey, this is saying no to who you are’ – Barbara Guest

  • If Barbara said no to the taste of whiskey she would be saying no to who she is. What are those little things that if you said no to, suddenly you would no longer be yourself ? The things you would lose that would mean that you were dead.
  • Don’t question yourself or wonder, just write.
  • Write a gathering list of things that if you no longer had them you no longer had you.

 Poem 6. – Misdirection

  • Think of something little that there are lots of; nails, lips, tongues, eye lashes, eyebrows, earlobes, forks, spoons, water bottles, bottle caps, grains of sand, ants, rain drops etc.
  • Write from their perspective as a collective ‘we’, think about their world view, think about their power. Think about their plans and plots, their territory and what they can do that others can’t.
  • What are their unique properties? Relish your words, their smallness and how much you can do with little phrases.
  • Let the smallness be your power.

 E.g.

Plump pops, we are punctuations of presence.

Something to run from or into, we freckle you.

We slide down the windows of your eyes

evaporate into outlines of ourselves

on shower doors and into skies.

 Poem 7. – Weaving from the Silence

  • ‘Effectively we are always just writing from a blank page of silence’.
  • ‘I would argue that a blank page is not scary but a power – you are creating something from nothing, you are putting words to the wordlessness.’
  • Rule 1: ‘I don’t want you to know what on earth you are on about’
  • Rule 2: ‘All of you are going to give yourself sections; 1,2,3… whatever you need (at least 5) the sections should vary wildly differently in tone’
  • Rule 3: Play.

 E.g.

1.

Sweet meat, cured beef, fleas breed, I need

space, lace, grace, other abstract nouns and clichés.

2.

I feel things so big I don’t know how to explain

Love anymore. Which is shit right?

3.

Plight, mice, think rice, I’m nice

Aren’t I? Nice guys finish nice,

 

‘Sometimes the only thing we know about a poem is if it is alive or dead and that is all we need to know.’ Caroline Bird

I hope you got some life out of this hour!

Debris x

Arvon Writing Aerobics 1. 10min with Caroline Bird

I am very fortunate that every year I spend a week with Mouthy Poet’s at an Arvon centre where we get to write, edit and read alongside each other and 3 amazing guest tutors who this year are Roger Robinson, Caroline Bird and Jess Thom. I feel like I want to share some of the amazing love I get from these courses by posting some of the workshop exercises that were given to us on my blog. So this is the first blog post in the Arvon series …

Ex 1. Day 1. When the World is not Watching …

-Write a list poem titled When the World is Not Watching, every line should begin with I, then the act you do. There should be no ‘I would’ – you are actually doing all of these things!

-Caroline’s exact instructions were, ‘Write as many as you possible can, it is important in this opening surge to not edge down the slide. Just write without censorship, you can go from the huge to the tiny, the impossible to the mundane’.

-Set your timer for 10 mins and go!

-Here is my example …

When the World is not Watching

I steal all the ham and eat it in one,

I pluck a sunflower petal, run

it over my face till I’m asleep

and I am dreaming of someone else running

a sunflower petal over my face

until I am awake.

 

I look into my Mum’s eyes an inch away,

until I am crying and she is there

with me instead of God and herself.

I write poems on gold leaves

hide them under autumn

like Mormon hid the plates underlies hoping someone

would love him enough to find them.

 

I pluck my bikini line, I drink vinegar,

I put fresh underwear and an oversized t-shirt over

my best friend and pull her from an anonymous bed

on a beach and unto my own.

I let the tears slug down her neck.

I slide into the sand soaked sheets.

 

I bite him, swallow a little blood.

Could be gum or lip, I don’t mind.

I cut each page of the Book of Mormon into

snowflakes, decorate mum’s prized B&Q Christmas tree.

I set fire to the sock & knicker sack.

I fill the attic with flammable liquids.

 

I don’t tell my parents,

I start smoking in the bathroom,

I hide Malibu under the stairs.

I sleep. I sleep. I sleep. I flush

my alarm down the toilet, I sleep.

When I am rested, for once,

 

I cover my desk in sunflower petals

lie on it, next to you, when we touch

you can move in this timeless world too.

I paint the morning hairs on your arms

with sunflower, put my ear against your chest

until I can hear the alarm you flushed inside of you

 

slow. Watch the hair of you

fold down and fleck like sun

on grass, or rain on leaves,

or my head into your neck.

I am awake for once. Eyes

an inch away from seeing.

 In the workshop we all shared our poems immediately with each other – no changes. So if you can find some people to do this with, share them together as one long poem before discussing them!

“We are more than things that we do, we are the things that we don’t do …” – Caroline Bird

#WordsFirst @1xtra Birmingham

I am currently in the midst of a crazy week at The Rep in Birmingham with 19 other poets, working for a week as part of WordsFirst an initiative launched by Radio 1xtra and The Roundhouse. We are writing lots and lots under the wonderful guidance of Amerah & Bohdan, which will culminate in a show this Thursday evening at Hit the Ode SO PLEASE COME… Here is a tiny taste of the kind of stuff coming out, we are writing around the theme of future and this poem came out of an exercise where I was randomly given the sentence ‘Lauryn Hill will get repetitive nightmares for the rest of her life in the bat cave’ to start my poem…

Lauryn Hill will get repetitive nightmares for the rest of her life in the bat cave, and she will write the best poems she has ever written. Fear will become a komodo dragon with hands instead of a tongue, it will grab her throat, she will wake up, write it, try to sleep again. Haven’t we all been there before, trying to sleep again? Willing so hard not to re-enter the darkness of fear but the darkness of sleep and then we feel the hand/tongue tighten on our breathing again. Her rhymes will be so tight they will have to start up Def Poetry Jam again, Bic will reinvent the pen especially for her songs slamming evil men. But she’ll return to her bat cave, hench and inspirational as Tyler Durden.

If you want to try this exercise at home, get a group of people, write on one strip of paper the name of a person you all know (celeb, friend, etc.) fold and put in a pile, on another put the name of a place (chipshop, stone henge, a primary school etc.) fold and put in another pile and then put a ‘will…’ (will kill a hamster, will fall in love, will eat omelettes till they are sick) and make another folded pile. Each person then chooses one from each and a combination of these cards creates the opening sentence for 10min writing time to make a poem!

Getting to know : Sacha Wise

Sacha Wise is an Alumni of my company, Mouthy Poets. She also founded and ran Spoken Word Sunday, Mouthy’s first and only monthly open mic which she ran amazingly. After Sacha’s debut performance at a domestic violence demonstration, Sacha Wise has featured and performed her poetry all over England and the USA.  Nottingham Poetry Society Slam Champion 2013, she has had her poems published in several poem anthologies, owns her own business, and classes as a ‘serial entrepreneur’.

Why did you go to the USA?

I went to further explore the relationship of creativity and empowerment in women who have experienced domestic violence. It was quite a professional and personal journey where someone who was scared of being alone ended up traveling all across the States on her own. It showed just how far I had come in my walk of being comfortable with who I am.

Why is female empowerment important to you?

My work is a discovery of self. Coming from an abusive and controlling marriage, I had to pull myself up from the bootstraps and get on with life. I cried a lot during that period. I discovered that empowerment, not just female empowerment, is the key to moving forward. I discovered that if I can overcome so gruesome an experience like domestic violence then I could technically be unstoppable if I put my mind to it. This realisation is the feeling I want all people to experience in their lives. Especially women. They are still oppressed in many cultures and are subtly, yet strongly oppressed in ours today.

What did you learn in the USA?

The open political dialogue in the USA, regarding many issues such as racism, poverty, classism and female empowerment is refreshing. Spoken word artists are free to speak about controversial issues in underground clubs and bars that touch and educate the people that are closest to these issues. The respect for spoken word in the States is due to this powerful ability to get into a person’s most intimate space, their mind, and bring a new perspective. Their poetry performances are unashamed and captivating.

Why are you open about personal struggles in your poem “Cover Me With Lace And Not Bruises”?

I remember sitting on my bed as I was writing “Cover Me With Lace And Not Bruises” and thinking to myself, “Do I really want to share all of this personal, graphic information with strangers?” I knew it was this moment of bravery that changed everything for me. I shared my broken heart in an authentic way and people in the audience would always respond to that particular poem with tears or approach me saying that the poem made them realise that they are not the only ones who have been through domestic violence. That was the most empowering thing I could have done in my brokenness, sharing the truth with other truth seekers and connecting in a beautiful human way. Somehow, that makes you more whole as a person. Looking back, I would have done it sooner had I known.

Do you have any advice for those who want to share similar experiences but are too afraid or ashamed to do so?

Just grab your pen. Open your mouth and share. It really is that simple. The only caution I would have when discussing domestic violence is that you need to make sure that you are safe first. If your partner is not the type of person to track you down, share your heart with an audience for healing purposes. Cry on stage if you have to; it probably makes the performance better as we are discussing poetry, a bunch of emotions expressed through words. If your partner is stalking you, do not share your work in a public domain but continue writing for healing and share with a close, supportive friend. That is just as empowering, and you will stay safe. You will be surprised as well; shame disappears when you take away its hold over you by speaking out loud.

If you are ever in an abusive situation, the first thing the abuser wants to do is shut you up so that you don’t have an opinion or voice, so that they can control you to a further degree. Spoken word allows you to do the opposite; it gives you a platform so you can use your unique and precious voice. Don’t despise that.

Where can you find support?

Sacha went to the USA as a part of the Nottinghamshire Roosevelt Travelling Scholarship in 2013. To find out more about the scholarship click here.

Equation is a Nottingham based organisation that provides support for victims of domestic abuse. For more information click here.

Women’s Aid is a body of over 220 organisations across England and is a national charity for women and children working to end domestic abuse. To visit their website click here.