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Performance poetry: Learning the hard way. (Is there any other?)

 
Doing and learning
 
I'm learning by heart
some poems I wrote
in a class started
by our slam impresario
 
the end of the course
is nigh and resistance
is as useless
as punctuation
in a poem
 
as if
 
performance is inevitable
but not humiliation
providing I learn my lessons and lines
so to speak
 
to keep breathing
not like underwater swimming
submersion
of an altogether different kind
 
absolutely no deep-end
clichés here but indeed it is quite scary
 
I’m not afraid
 
shoulders back
down and relax
what becomes of my arms
no one knows
it seems a long way down to my hands
 
anything can happen
 
feet under my hips straight so
the assumption is
stand up for ten minutes
with nothing to lean against
 
pause
 
I feel an access issue
coming on
strong
 
belly out
OK
power inside
 
voice
my own
natural voice
the same voice
I use to voice
concerns
and love
to say
hello
 

Explanation for the title of the picture

This is a photograph (digitally adjusted) of my fridge door, taken about an hour before uploading the image. This arrangement of the poetry tiles has been in place for almost four years. Why I don't change it is a mystery. Maybe now it has been 'captured' digitally, I will feel OK about rearranging the words or even finding some new ones...

Posted by Deborah Caulfield, 21 November 2014

Last modified by Deborah Caulfield, 22 November 2014

At last, no housework, just writing (this poem for example).

I'm half way through a six week contemporary poetry course, organised by Readipop. The venue is one of the meeting rooms at the excellent Reading International Solidarity Centre (risc).

Our tutor is the wonderful facilitator of Dreading (Reading Poetry Slam), Michaël Gulliver Vidon.

I enjoy working in groups. We do activities in ‘class’ and Michaël sets us homework, which we share on Dropbox.

As well as meeting interesting and inspirational writers, I'm learning so much!

I've been introduced to Flarf and Found poetry, both of which have helped free up my writing and increased my confidence.

Last week editor and publisher Emma Wright gave each of us feedback on a poem we’d sent her. I found this helpful and encouraging.

Unexpectedly and already, I now can hardly stop writing. Virtually no household chores are getting done and I’m writing into the night and starting again first thing in the morning.

I am not complaining.

My head is crammed with over six decades worth of memories, experiences, ideas, thoughts, issues and stuff. It’s a relief to start feeling able to express some of it.

This poem is based on a real event in 2005. So far there are four iterations, or versions, of this poem. The actual encounter with the subject of the poem is likely to provide inspiration for more poems and, I hope, pictures.

I avoid clichés (like the plague) so I’m not saying there’s more where this came from, or watch this space. But you get the idea.

 

A missionary's position

 

her daytime occupation
is to raise the reputation
of a world
class institution
 
writing
resolutions on wealth
health
and over-population
drastic solutions
to malnutrition
destitution
and preventable death
 
but this woman's passion
and personal mission
is special
 
an exciting expedition
 
to seek out
from the poor and diseased
the seeds
of their survival
and reluctance to die
 
whatever they're hiding
denying or lying
about
she's keen on prising
out
of them
their secrets
 
one
by
one
 
peasants and paupers
epileptics or lepers
whatever they suffer
they have stuff
to tell
 
like that girl
 
in her wheelchair
bound
is she not
to despair
at
the sight
of stairs
and
and the stares
 
for the blind
in their darkness
the deaf
in their silence
happiness
surely
in this instance
is nonsense
 
about injustice
of course
she's furious
but
mostly
she's just
curious
 
she's determined
to identify
exactly why
these people are
still alive
 
to get
behind
the smiles
find out
if they're real
 
reveal
the magic
and mystery
that makes
the frail and afflicted
apparently
unafraid
 
to fail
 
not only would she liked to know
she believes
she has the right to know
from where they derive
their desire
their sheer drive
to go on
 
living
despite
disability
 
she's dying
to understand
everything
 
how
and above all
why
 
hers is a journey
sacred
of learning she's compelled
to complete
 
or else
 
her life
will be
hell
 
 

Deborah Caulfield. November 2014

 

I've entered the UK Blog Awards 2014 in two categories. Public voting has started.

If you like, you can vote for me in one or both of these two categories:

Health

Arts & Culture

Posted by Deborah Caulfield, 13 November 2014

Last modified by Deborah Caulfield, 13 November 2014

This is my contribution to Remembrance Sunday 2014

War, huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh
War huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again y'all
War, huh good God
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me

Oh, war, I despise
'Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go off to fight and lose their lives

I said
War, huh good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, just say it again
War whoa Lord
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreak
War, friend only to the undertaker

Oh war, is an enemy to all mankind
The thought of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest within the younger generation
Induction, then destruction who wants to die

War, good God, y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it, say it, say it
War, uh huh, yeah, huh
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker
War, it's got one friend that's the undertaker

Oh, war has shattered many young man's dreams
Made him disabled bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious to spend fighting wars these days
War can't give life it can only take it away, ooh

War, huh, good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again
War, whoa, Lord
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker

Peace love and understanding tell me
Is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there's got to be a better way

War, huh, good God y'all
What is it good for?
You tell 'em, say it, say it, say it, say it
War, good Lord, huh
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it, nothing
War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker

Songwriters
Strong, Barrett / Whitfield, Norman J.

Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Listen and watch here: MetroLyrics

Posted by Deborah Caulfield, 9 November 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 November 2014