16 April 2024

Thinking big

Following on from my last post, "Confluence" has been written and it's had its world premiere! The first of two Stockport Stories showcases took place last Thursday at the rather wonderful Rare Mags bookshop in Stockport Underbanks (I snaffled Sheila Heti's Alphabetical Diaries while I was there, and can't wait to read it) and lots of lovely comments ensued. 

The second airing is this Saturday at Marple's marvellous Mura Ma art gallery, which is in an old bank, complete with baffled vault, from where I'm pondering meandering out and among the audience to perform my piece. Grab one of the few remaining free tickets here... 

I've really enjoyed working on this commission, which from the offset I knew had to be about the River Mersey and early on decided needed to be a poem rather than a story, with the form reflecting both the subject and the shape, if you will, of the performance. I decided one longer poem would fit the bill and took a little inspiration from the opening of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, describing a peopled but peopleless waterfront Llareggub and its night-time nature and landscape. In "Confluence", we start with a snapshot of the point where the Goyt meets the Tame, from where we, writer and reader, set off on a journey under the Merseyway shopping centre before being daylighted beneath the famous viaduct.

After working on "Lune", my water erosion-themed title poem to Lune, my most recent pamphlet – btw, there's just one remaining copy from the limited-edition printrun in the Red Ceilings Press online store here; snap it up, yes? – as well as some short sequences – including five linked urban-rural 100-word prose poems called "Roars", out soon in the acclaimed Spelt Magazine, launching online on Friday 3 May – I've been enjoying the scope that longer poetry may offer. 

I'm keen to explore further longer forms of poetry, like poetic sequences, long poems, book-length poems and linked collections, and I'm seeking out more reading matter along the lines of, for example, Alice Oswald's riverine Dart, Bernadette Mayer's 24-hour experiment Midwinter Day and Hope Mirrlees' early modernist city guide Paris, so hit me up with suggestions to add to my reading list!

In the meantime, I'm pondering my own way in to an experimental text about the City of Lights. As keen readers will know, Paris is my favourite place, and I've spotted a callout for work about it – and since it's where Oulipo was established, it seems rude to not at least try out some ideas, especially as April – as per – began with my annual Perecian observation exercise, despite (for the second year running) being sick. I'm also working on something short about shadows and swallows (I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of one soon!) for my workshop group and I'm also (I know, stop it) thinking about another bird-based project, so let's see if that, er, takes off...