20min Morning Writing Workout

So if your going to do this you need to wake up 30min earlier to make time OR, you might want to do it on the train on your phone or something OR I am actually using this as a warm up for a day of writing. So this has nothing to do with the script I am writing but it acts as a creative anchor and warm up for the rest of my day.

  1. Inspo: Whilst you are getting ready put on some sort of documentary with interesting info in it. I was watching (well semi-background watching) The Insider Toxic Waste Dump with Reggie Yates.
  2. Focus: Afterwards, turn all your wifi and data off on everything, set a 10min timer on your phone and put it in a draw.
  3. Freewrite: Write freely, but let any background imagery from the doc come into the writing whenever you feel stuck, but at the same time try to dig deep into your subconscious, your dreams.

Freewrite (typos, notes and all cause I am v. dyslexic) 

I want to write a letter to you,

I want to burn the plastic around you,

I want to step my bare foot into the mud.

Find rthe sound.

Bear foot into the mud,

I am a spade. I am a pit.

 

Your looking at my eyebrows quiet a lot.

They take up quiet a large proportion of my face.

We seem so preoccupied with love.

I live next to a railway track so I can sleep through 8 alarms back to back.

 

I love everything about you except your alarms.

I want to tell you I love you but you have been talking about yourself for 40minutes now and I am not sure that you know I am hear.

So I drink your hieniken and readust the blue plastic bags over my muddy boots.

 

Do you mind if I kiss you.

Right hand on giant brass gorilla statue.

Before you leave and I wonder where in my future you could have been.

Humans are the problem.

 

I’ve learned how to love myself and now I want to write you a letter.

I want to eat omlettes with you on stools at noon.

I want my pillow to smell of your hair products and sweat.

 

Monogomy makes no sense but I want it.

Do I need it? I can feel the building works inside of me.

Low vibrations of train overhead.

Bar under a railway bridge.

Gin and tonic in the fridge.

Outside your window two pigeons are fighting over love,

Or whatever the pigeon equivalent is.

 

I saw d double set 2 doves free in east London

And their lyrics will fly like birds in the sky

Hit one of your breadrins in the eye.

And I wonder where they are hiding,

 

How conspicuous 2 doves would be wondering around Newham,

Or maybe their difference would be an advantage.

Maybe they would colonise street corners,

Start drinking marinda and chill outside dixy.

I wonder what bird or animal my lyrics might be,

If they might fly, or crawl or swim, how they would touch people –

A slap, a hit, a seduction… maybe the 8 odd spiders your supposed to eat every year

Or is it every life time, or a cat at the end of the bed,

Or the cat that isn’t yours but you feed anyway,

A goose chasing a toddler round a pond.

 

This is all getting very meta,

I want to send you a letter

I don’t believ ein regrets

I believe in becoming better

And I needed to leave you to grow

And now I’ve grown so slow

And you left no sign of yourself on our own road

Except this one dove that has no idea where to go.

 

(end of cliff hanger, phone in a draw)

 

4.   Edit: 10min timer, copy and paste free write. Edit with instincts. Give it a title.

I Love Everything About you Except Your Alarms

 

I want to write a letter to you,

I want to burn the plastic around you,

I want to step my bare foot into the mud.

Find the squelchy envelop of sound.

 

Your looking at my eyebrows quiet a lot.

They take up a large proportion of my face.

I live next to a railway track so I can sleep through 8 alarms back to back.

 

I love everything about you except your alarms.

I want to tell you I love you

but you have been talking about yourself for 40minutes now

and I am not sure that you know I am here.

 

I drink your Heineken

readjust the blue plastic bags over muddy wellies.

Do you mind if I kiss you?

Humans are the problem.

But I still want to write you a letter.

eat omelets with you on stools at noon,

a pillow that smells of your hair products.

 

Monogamy makes no sense but I want it.

Do I need it? I can feel the building works inside of me.

Low vibrations of train overhead.

Bar under a railway bridge.

Gin and tonic in the fridge.

 

I saw d double set 2 doves free in East London

And their lyrics will fly like birds in the sky

Hit one of your bredrins in the eye.

And I wonder where they are hiding around Newham,

surviving off spilt Marinda outside Dixy

picking up a weed habit off gutter-bud,

their coo growing rougher.

 

I wonder, what bird or animal my lyrics might be,

If they might fly, or crawl or swim, or slap…

maybe they’re one of the 8 spiders you’re supposed to eat every year

crawling into unsuspecting mouths. Or maybe they’re the cat at the end of the bed,

or a goose chasing a toddler round a pond.

 

You left no sign of yourself on our road

except this one dove with no idea where to go,

I watch it pecking at spilt Marinda from my window,

 

my eighth alarm a pick axe at your pillow.

 

5.  Get it Mature: File it somewhere, send it to someone for feedback, leave it for a bit! So you can come back to it in a week, month, year or something, fresh and come up with a more comprehensive strategy. I save my writing into project files – Collection, Grime Poetry, Journal and in each of those I have Ideas/Drafts with feedback/Drafts without feedback/finished so when I don’t want to write I can always edit or have stuff to send for feedback!

Have a great day!

Debris x

p.s. photography on cover image by visual fold

 

Writing Workout (2-3h) – Problem Solving.

You might be working on a show, or a collection, or a pamphlet or just know there is something you need to write about or maybe you are tired of constantly writing into the darkness and want to have more of a plan?

As I am working towards a show there a few scenes I know I need to write, and I kind find that hard (as you may have seen from my other more freestyle focused writing exercises) I really enjoy writing into the dream part of my brain and being surprised at what comes out.

But there is a fight/ cypher scene I know I needed to write, so I took this morning 7.30am-11am (after exercise + stretching for 15min) to just focus on writing this but with a few goals in mind:

  1. I don’t want to write ferociously, I want to write with consideration and accuracy – using a thesaurus or google to really ensure every word/image I choose feels right for the image I can see so clearly in my head or maybe even am fighting to find clarity with and with each word I get ‘right’ it can become clearer.
  2. I want it to be small and fierce (like me), a tight, compact, concise image that punches someone in the face so each word needs to not work in terms of what it means (dictionary definition) but sound like what it means and pull against my other word choices and the lineation to add new dimensions and layers to that meaning.
  3. Play with the language and music of grime but not on beat, a lot of what I write at the moment is too music, so I kind of want this to be a counter stretch that uses the language I grew up with in a more conversational manor.

 

How? 

1. Find a poem that resonates – I found a poem by Kayo Chongonyi in Kumukanda called In Defence of DarknessIt has a sense of the hidden but also the intimate and gave a clear sensory image in 4 stanza’s which I want.

2. Steal some rules from that poem – I took:

  • 2 x 4 line stanzas and 2 x 5 line stanzas
  • line length similar
  • Lots of sensory detail

3. Add a rule of your own – I added:

  • Make the punctuation more visible like it looks like what is happening and only use .?\/() (This is because I want to think about how my show is published, I don’t want to adhere to the formal grammatical rules but instead think about how MCs use it and how my dyslexic mind more intrinsically see’s it).

4. Set time aside and commit – This is really a longer exercise, because I want you to take time over each word, get a coffee if and when you need, listen to a song, have a dance. Take little breaks to clean your mind, it’s not about vigorously writing and editing but meditating and mulling the images/smells/textures in your mind until the right once comes to the surface but you are still working towards a full draft by the end of the allotted time…

Mosh from the Humanities Block

Editing Note: When returning to this I will take out the scaffolding of the rules I stole from Kayo, the exercise is the spring board to get the content out, the editing task will be later working out what stanza/line length etc. serves this piece best!

Have a great weekend!

Debris x

 

Writing Workout (40-60min) – Writing Towards a Deadline

I am working towards the deadline now of the first draft of my script for my show with the Royal Court next year. So when I sit down at my desk it is really easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of things (especially as a dyslexic, I have so much writing and even reading through it all is a challenge). Unlike the last couple challenges I have set, this writing workout is to push you to dedicate a good chunk of time to writing, 40min, 60min, maybe even 2 hours if you want to push it that far! I am currently deleting all social media apps off my phone 11am-3.30pm and dedicating this to writing (still use watts app and email in my lunch break but one step at a time).

So, here is an exercise to trick you back into the flow of writing, you will need: 

-A friend or a device that enables you to contact them

-Writing tools of some king (use whatever you feel comfortable with OR maybe use something you don’t feel comfortable, this can be interesting to mix things up and maybe bring about a new writing style)

-a timer on your phone or wherever

1. Get someone you trust in a room, on the phone, on watts app and just talk to them about the show. 

This sounds simple, but this has been such a huge factor to everything I have achieved, whenever I am putting a project together or working with someone I request a mentor/dramaturge/pritical friend/peer even if its just an hour on the phone or a day together. With this piece I was lucky enough to have some times with Hannah Silva who is an amazing poet but also a really close friend (and whom also set the initial writing exercise for me).

You can time the conversation, or just let it flow, you might have it the day before you want to write, or immediately before but the point is to find an event that feels emotionally relevant to the piece you are writing.

For me, this was a fight I was challenged to at at school.

2. First draft, 10min timer, free write (write without questioning, caring about spelling or sh**ness, don’t read any of it back to yourself whilst you are writing). It must; be in the third person, describe the activity running up to the event but not describe the event itself and try and give as much sensory detail as you can… GO!

Fight Scene

Purple blazers running like toddlers through a gang of pigeons,

Year sevens scatter, Tesco value salt and vinegar and blue Panda Pops everywhere

Year 9 is always first, the loudest amongs the crowd shouts

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF,

Voices gather, burst out of detention, Axel jumps out the top window of the science block,

Taymah chucks her left shoe on top of the humanities building,

Vinnie, the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreets back as she starts sprinting.

Gary’s burger van is abandoned, chili sauce everywhere,

Hayley Folks slips, but braces herself on several other kids.

One random year 8 no one knew existed starts lobbing oranges.

 

All the worst schools wore black trainers, knickers, all black converse,

Air force ones, leggings, black jeans, diamonds in their tights,

Lynx or Joop on their necks, earings bigger than faces,

Sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train

Tighter together than hands to hips in a slow whine.

Every year in the school is there now. Football hooligan zolume,

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF.

 

Year 10 start the rumours about the chain up Debris’ sleeve,

The foldable scisors tucked to sleep in her right sock,

Apparently she got kicked off the Valentines grounds for setting Amit’s head on fire.

Debris is in the boys gymnasiam changing room getting ready with the mandem,

Billing a zoot as if plaiting a childs hair.

Heathen stands behind her,

pulls a bottle of Blue Alizay out of his bag

and backs a third of the bottle in one then passes

it to Debris, who’s chest is raised,

Tie short and fat, trousers tight around trunk-thighs, elastic breaking and poking out like white hairs.

All 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out revealing

An elaborately embellished gold lining, most of them have blackened lips.

 

3. Edit Prep, read through and highlight what is standing out to you (don’t change anything yet, but start to think about some rules you might want to set yourself for editing…

Fight Scene

Purple blazers running like toddlers through a gang of pigeons,

Year sevens scatter, Tesco value salt and vinegar and blue Panda Pops everywhere

Year 9 is always first, the loudest amongs the crowd shouts

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF,

Voices gather, burst out of detention, Axel jumps out the top window of the science block,

Taymah chucks her left shoe on top of the humanities building,

Vinnie, the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreets back as she starts sprinting.

Gary’s burger van is abandoned, chili sauce everywhere,

Hayley Folks slips, but braces herself on several other kids.

One random year 8 no one knew existed starts lobbing oranges.

 

All the worst schools wore black trainers, knickers, all black converse,

Air force ones, leggings, black jeans, diamonds in their tights,

Lynx or Joop on their necks, earings bigger than faces,

Sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train

Tighter together than hands to hips in a slow whine.

Every year in the school is there now. Football hooligan zolume,

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF.

 

Year 10 start the rumours about the chain up Debris’ sleeve,

The foldable scisors tucked to sleep in her right sock,

Apparently she got kicked off the Valentines grounds for setting Amit’s head on fire.

Debris is in the boys gymnasiam changing room getting ready with the mandem,

Billing a zoot as if plaiting a childs hair.

Heathen stands behind her,

pulls a bottle of Blue Alizay out of his bag

and backs a third of the bottle in one then passes

it to Debris, who’s chest is raised,

Tie short and fat, trousers tight around trunk-thighs, elastic breaking and poking out like white hairs.

All 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out revealing

An elaborately embellished gold lining, most of them have blackened lips.

 

4. Edit, I chose to set myself the following rules which you are free to try out (sometimes its just the idea of having rules that is helpful in a first edit, irrelevant of what they are so if you are new it can be helpful to borrow someone else and see what impact it has). My rules: 

10-15min timer

-Whole piece should be one sentence because I want to see if I can create the breathlessness of running towards a fight and pick the heart rate up of the reader.

-Trial out long and short lines in 3 line stanza’s to play around with the frantic nature and the stop, start, chaos of the run up to a fight.

-Play around with sound, and repetition as much as possible (I have been really obsessed with how this exists in Grime and slang recently so want to try and use some of that thinking), to push that consideration I put a Grime instrumental mix on in the background.

 

Hungry toddlers through squads of purple pigeons,

10p Space Invaders, Fredo’s, blue Panda Pops,

everywhere

 

year 9 is always first, loudest

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF, burst

out of detention –

 

Axel jumps out the top window of the science block, Taymah chucks her left shoe

on top of the humanities building, Vinnie,

the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreet’s back and she starts sprinting

 

Gary’s burger van

abandoned, chili sauce everywhere, Hayley Folks slips

braces herself on several other kids, one year 8 no one knew existed starts lobbing oranges

 

all black trainers, knickers, Air Force 1s, leggings, reinforced thighs from high rise,

broken lifts, elastic taring diamonds in tights,

Lynx or Joop on necks, earings bigger than faces,

 

Sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train, pupils pack and pull in tighter

than hands to hips in slow whine, jook/jook/jab/jab/dagger dat/splash/splash/splash

Every year in the school is here now

 

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

 

I can barely see or hear out the frosted boys changing room window BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF Apparently she got kicked off the Valentines grounds for setting Amit’s head on fire BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

 

Heathen is billing a zoot as if plaiting his baby sisters hair, momentarily

one handed, he slides a bottle of Blue Alizay from his Just Do It backpack

backs a third and passes it to Debris

 

all 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out

revealing gold lining, most of them have blackened lips

a lick, ready to stick rizla to roach

 

one day bus ticket was all you needed to show for a month round here

bus drivers to scared to ask

Debris slides foldable scissors into left sock

 

bicycle chain her weapon of choice – too much WWF, Streets of Rage and COD

2.30pm, 15min till she needs to be at the school gates

Heathen passes the zoot, condom over the smoke detector

 

the year 11s have started wearing stab proof vests

under the premise of fashion,

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

 

The crows start to head out, pilgrims to promise land,

lambs to the slaughter, wise men

to the brightest star

 

awaiting Debris’ heard of grey blazers,

of smoked meat, awaiting the closest they all know to love –

grief.

5. Refine – with as much time as you want, no Music, read Out loud, choose a title I chose to remove all line breaks and push this use of breathlessness (again if you want to try this or give yourself another rule it is up to you, a line break based rule might be fun if you don’t often to this).

 

Hunting for Gold

Hungry toddlers scatter

squads of purple pigeons, 10p Space Invaders, Fredo’s, blue Panda Pops,

a student teacher sobs,

year 9 is always first, loudest

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF, burst

out of detention –

Axel jumps from the top window of the science block, Taymah lobs her left shoe

on the humanities building, Vinnie,

the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreet’s back and she starts sprinting,

Gary’s burger van

abandoned, chili sauce everywhere, Hayley Folks slips

braces herself on several other kids, one year 8 no one knew existed starts hurling oranges

towards all black trainers, Kickers, Air Force 1s, leggings, reinforced thighs from high rise

broken lifts, elastic taring diamonds in tights,

Lynx or Joop on necks, earings bigger than faces,

and sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train, pupils pack and pull in tight

(hands to hips in slow whine jook/jook/jab/jab/dagger-dat/splash/splash/splash)

every year in the school is here now

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

I can barely see or hear out the frosted boys changing room window BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF (apparently she got kicked out the Valentines Secondary grounds  for setting Amit’s head on fire) BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

Heathen is billing a zoot as if plaiting his baby sister’s hair, momentarily

one handed, he slides a bottle of blue Alizé from his Just Do It backpack

backs a third and passes it to Debris

all 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out

revealing gold lining, most of them have blackened lips

a lick, ready to stick Rizla to roach,

(Debris slides foldable scissors into left sock

bicycle chain into right breast pocked)

2.30pm, 15min till she needs to be at the school gates

Heathen passes the zoot

(condom over the smoke detector)

the year 11s have started wearing stab proof vests

under the premise of fashion BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

the crows head out (pilgrims to promise land)

lambs to the slaughter,

wise men

to gold stars.

 

30min Writing Workout – YOU ARE A POET!

Charlie Dark has been my mentor now for a good 8 years and every time we talk he reminds me… DEBORAH, YOU ARE A POET, the dancing, the grime, fitness, it is all great but strip it all away and at your core, you are a poet, do not forget that. 

BUT IT IS SO EASY. Especially at the moment as I am still recruiting a team for my show and there is loads of additional non-writerly things to do, I have every excuse in the world just millimetres away. So this is my no excuses, even if you have to do it on a train or on the toilet – WRITE F***ING NOW CAUSE YOU ARE A WRITER exercise of the day.

 

DRAFT 1 

Choose a commute you are taking (for me today it was from Sloane Sq. to Liverpool Street), put your headphones in, ideally music you love but don’t usually write too (this is a thing for me atm, and today it was Afro Jack) and write nonstop (no care for typos or being embarrassed about the woman peering over your shoulder) till the end of that journey. If you get stuck, just chuck in an image or scent you can see around you. This is my first draft, I have left all the Dyslexia in there so you can see how rough it is! 

 

Sharp shoulder blends into yellow pole,

Sometimes I feel like a a yellow;

Line, double, highlighter, fluorescent piss,

 

A bottle of barocha, single buscuit

Bottom of plastic value wishing well.

Wishing myself well. I miss all my exes on Sunday mornings, yet I’m terrified of people, want to order pizza but I’m convinced the 17 year old at the counter

Will spell the Wray Neph and neglect.

White rum tastes of miscilaneous shame.

 

My cheek stuck to his chest.

And I half enjoy feeling our sweat congeal underneath me in the morning light.

But I pull the cover in between our skin.

Feel the moisture suck into the fabric.

The salty crusts of morning.

 

A stranger swings an unretracted umbrella from his wrist, heavy and fun as an appendage.

 

Rows of shoes and fidgets.

It’s hard to look someone in the eyes

When the crotch and armpits are so close.

Fall asleep and wake up to the imprint of a zip on your cheek.

 

Pull this white sofa we are attempting sleep on into two, like a giant marshmallow, sometimes there is more space if you rip something up – extend the surface area. Lift your shirt up so your stomachs can touch.

 

Forget to wash the Tupperware after lunch. My bag smells so strongly of the colour green I don’t think my note book will recover.

 

I tend not to shower for the 24 hours after. It’s never conscious. Maybe I just want to keep the space you have left for a while. Suss it out, you out, us out.

 

I worked love out without you.

Where do I fit u.

Where do I fit.

Do I wear.

Do I fit.

 

DRAFT 2:

Give it a sec. Don’t read it, just lock your phone and finish your commute, have your dinner, wait till lunch or whatever, just let it ferment in your pocket for a bit. Then when you get some actual space, copy and paste it into a word doc. and turn on a new track list that you love but don’t usually write to (for me, Home Sweet Home by Kano) and edit. I chose to edit to find the core, the story, I wanted to see all the images and for there to be a sense of 2 people but in a wider world, vehicle or commute if it will. I also just wanted to feel free with the lineation so just tried to play on instinct and not think toooo much at this point. 

 

 

His sharp shoulder blends into the yellow pole,

supposed to be rush hour stability but

sometimes, I feel like a line… double,

highlighter,

fluorescent piss,                         a bottle

 

Berocca,

 

single beige biscuit on bedside table

bottom of plastic value wishing well.

Wishing…myself…(hand to big for noisy packaging)      Well?

 

Well, I miss all my exes on Sunday mornings,

 

yet I’m terrified of people, would order pizza but

I’m convinced the 17-year-old at the counter will smell

the Wray Neph,

the miscellaneous shame. My cheek

 

is stuck

 

to his chest. And I half enjoy it

sweat congealing,

clinging the way I imagine velcro does up close

tiny translucent hands desperate to stay together,

but kids feet grow

so fast              I pull the cover

in between his chest and my cheek

feel moisture suck fabric.

 

The salty crusts of morning.

 

(A stranger swings a flaccid umbrella from his wrist, heavy and fun as if an appendage.) Rows of shoes and fidgets. It’s hard to look someone in the eyes when crotch and armpits are so close. Fall asleep and wake up to the imprint of a zip on your cheek.

 

This white sofa we are attempting sleep on –

could we tear it like a giant marshmallow?

Sometimes there is more space if you rip something up – extend the surface area.

 

He lifts his shirt up so your stomachs can touch.

I forget to wash the Tupperware after lunch. My bag smells

I don’t think my note book will recover.

 

I tend not to shower for the 24 hours after. It’s never conscious. Maybe

I just want to keep his space

for a while.

 

 

 

 

Till it feels like mine.

 

Draft 3

Turn off the music. Read it out loud, cut any image or line that you can not see/hear/touch/taste/experience. Watch the movie that is the poem in your head and give it a title. (I might have to make a misc. series)…

 

Miscellaneous Shame

 

His spine is a yellow handrail on the Circle Line

supposed rush hour stability, but

sometimes, I feel like the line –

 

double, highlighter, fluorescent piss, a

bottle… Berocca, maybe?

Single beige biscuit

on bedside table. Bottom

of plastic value wishing well.

Wishing…

 

myself…(hand to big for noisy packaging)

Well? Well, I miss all my exes on Sunday mornings,

 

yet I’m terrified of people,

would order pizza but

I’m convinced the 17-year-old at the counter will

smell the Wray Neph,

the miscellaneous shame. My cheek

 

is stuck

 

to his chest. And I half enjoy it

sweat congealing,

clinging the way I imagine Velcro does

if you look closely – tiny translucent hands –

– desperate to stay together –

 

but kids feet grow so fast.

I pull the cover in between his chest – and my cheek – the salty crusts of morning –

 

(A stranger swings a flaccid umbrella from his wrist,

heavy and fun as an appendage.) Rows of shoes and fidgets.

It’s hard to look someone in the eyes when crotch and armpits

are so close. Fall asleep and wake up to the imprint of a zip on your cheek.

 

This white sofa we are attempting sleep on –

could we tear it like a giant marshmallow?

Sometimes there is more space if you rip something up – extend the surface area –

 

He lifts his shirt up so your stomachs can touch.

I forget to wash the Tupperware after lunch. My bag smells

I don’t think my note book will survive… (or recover?)

 

I tend not to shower for the 24 hours after. It’s never conscious. (Maybe?)

I just want to keep his space

for a while.

 

 

 

 

Till it feels like mine(?)

 

 

p.s. Lovely Photography by – Aileen Wessely www.farbanomalie.de

 

 

Arvon Writing Aerobics 9. Why is mainstream poetry becoming more accepting of experimental poetry?

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

Roger Poetry is dying a slow boring death, so we are going through a creative peak at the moment. It is really important to start things and make people come to you. Don’t be begging people for you, don’t be unsatisfied with one small square of the world, find the people that want your messages and send it to them. Don’t be a wondering generality, be a very strong specific. That is how you get through the noise and clutter. Don’t follow the herd completely, be yourself – you are enough.

Caroline Our revolution [in the UK] is just about due.

Arvon Writing Aerobics 8. How do you deal with professional rejection?

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

Roger Being a writer is about rejection. If you are not about rejection you are probably not pitching enough or not aiming high enough. I had 36 rejections for my first poetry book and the only thing that kept me going was that my mentor had 38 and he said ‘don’t come to me till you get 38’. Until you get your first success it is really hard, writing is about perseverance and rejection. If you can’t persevere through rejection, don’t be a writer. You have to be consistently devoted to this thing.

Caroline Someone saying ‘I see you, keep doing it’ and who wants you to progress – keep going until you find that person. What is much more important than listening to rejection is listening to that person that understands what you are trying to do. Stopping is not an option.

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 3. How do you know when a poem is done?

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

Roger Any more and you will kill it, any less and it is not enough. It is kind of instinct, there has to be a point where I let it be.

Caroline  It is important to trust tomorrow’s eyes on it. Sometimes you are just not going to see something on one day. You have to enjoy it not being finished and feel like you need to crack it now. Isn’t it amazing that you can go around for a whole week thinking about one word? – there is something delicious about it. If you enjoy it not being finished you are much more likely to know when it’s done.

                                                 

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