This week was pretty full on, literature wise. It was Week 2 of the online poetry course I'm doing with the Manchester Writing School at MMU - topics included metre and rhyme and forms, with us going off into the ether to find out about (and share our discoveries with the rest of the class) different types of poem such as villanelles and sestinas. I spent a good while checking out collage and finding out about French/Romanian avant-garde poet, art critic etc Tristan Tzara, who was an early advocate of ‘cut-up’, chopping out words from a newspaper and drawing them randomly from a hat to create a poem. I have a number of suitable hats; maybe I'll give it a go.
The overarching theme for the second week was "tools", ranging from a basic discussion of writer's tools such as pens and pencils to the creation of a new piece from the memory of a tool "which has personal significance to you". Over the course of various exercises, we were given photo prompts, created our own prompts, and wrote within certain time frames; I ended up with three poems and am particularly pleased that I plonked on, and stuck with, attempting to create a concrete poem to reflect the shape of the tool I chose to focus on (sailing related).
I'd also signed up to a five-day
short story challenge created by flash fiction guru and poet Tania Hershman. From Monday to Friday, my email pinged (it didn't really; do I look like someone who has their computer ping with every new email?) as daily prompts and work of wisdom arrived. On the day I was encouraged to incorporate into my work found phrases from
written material knocking about my house (recipe books, instruction manuals and so on), I used the same ones to feed into the poetry course, so it was helpful on two fronts.
I also partook in some live lit events. Yes, Live Literature Land has gone online, so I've been gathering intel on what's happening in the interwebs, with a view to turning over the engine on the old Creative Tourist column and hoping the battery's not dead. Anything you're running and wotnot, let me know. On Monday, I watched the first Evening In With Flapjack Press via Zoom (yep, I downloaded new stuff), featuring readings from Anna Percy, Gerry Potter, Thick Richard and more. Really enjoyable and it's going to be coming to a screen near you regularly (the next one's tomorrow, with Tony "Longfella" Walsh, newly crowned Saboteur winner Dominic Berry and so on). On Thursday, episode #1 of Makar To Makar streamed via YouTube - with Jackie Kay (the Scottish poet laureate, if you will) welcomed us into her living room (virtually of course), reading old and new poems and chatting to Peggy Hughes and singer Suzanne Bonnar. This new poetry/music/conversation show will be weekly for 16 weeks, so until 27 August if I can still work a diary correctly.
I also caught the English PL, Simon Armitage, sharing his Desert Island Discs and chatting to people in his shed (from the promo shots in the paper, he has the same deckchairs as us. We got ours out of a skip. They may, or may not, have previously belonged to that actor off of Cold Feet). On Saturday night, we were invited to "salon" Leap In The Dark hosted by David Collard, and focusing on Nightjar Press, introduced by Nicholas Royle. Enjoyed a chat between Wyl Menmuir and Alison Moore, readings from Conrad Williams and more, and some special one-off soundscapes created the spot by Gary Fisher, who we worked with on the FaxFiction project last year. Then the internet cut out. Above is a picture of us from Nick, taken unawares.
(Finally, apologies for the state of the blog's hotchpotch fonts, terrible mobile device display, and general slipshod look. It's run on 2009, possibly 2008, Blogger; the poor thing's held together with sticky tape and laccy bands. It's vintage, dahlinks.)