Category Archives: language

Making more nonsense

Duchess's Community High School Poetry Club pamphlet

Back in March I blogged about a nonsense verse project called Stop making sense that I made with Kirsten Luckins for StAnza 2021. I heard about a lovely follow up this week involving pupils at the Duchess’s Community High School Poetry Club, Alnwick. Club members produced an ad hoc pamphlet of great nonsense poems and artwork, taking ideas and tools on the Stop making sense website as some of their starting points.

Apparently this was the first time in a year that the club has been able to meet, and the best thing was that they had a really good laugh doing it. You can see the poems and pictures at the link below.

The DCHS Poetry Club Nonsense pamphlet

If things are simply getting far too sensible, or maybe you just need a smile, the Stop making sense website is also still open.

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Review: Elementum No 1

‘Ocean Beat’ by Sorrel Wilson and Jay Armstrong

Reading Elementum is something of a subtle sensual overload.  This new journal ‘of nature and story’ is a beautifully judged amalgam of photographs, art, narratives, poems, design, paper craft and ink. Everything about it seems set to put a brake on the swish-swish-swoosh mode of browsing engendered by too much shiny screen time.  The matt surface of paper itself gives the eye traction, and the words on the page offer a firm growing medium for thought.  This is rich soil.  And, like a healthy loam, the book – it’s fair to call it that, as it is a decent index finger think – has it’s own intoxicating scent. I’m reading while basking in the fertile tang of printer’s ink.  Contributor and editor Jay Armstrong has made a marvellous thing! Continue reading


Yellow Rose

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My third colour poem makes the triad of painter’s primaries. It takes its starting point from a lively tune I remember from the radio when I was a small boy. Of course I didn’t know then that the origins of the song went back over a hundred years earlier, or what the lyrics were about. Continue reading


Stravaig

script1_verticalI accidentally attended a workshop at the very excellent Scottish Poetry Library yesterday. ‘Accidentally’ because the workshop wasn’t exactly about what I though it was – my fault for not reading the small print in sufficient detail once again!  I should have looked up acrostic first (well, now I know…)

stravaigWhat the workshop was about was about image and poetry, but in the sense of using text and other elements to make a poem that is spatial as well as (or maybe more than) temporal.  Well, so to speak…

…clear as mud? Think ‘concrete poetry’ (for example).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, however, so I decided to give it a go…

To be honest, I felt a bit at sea – I’ve always found this kind of thing quite difficult to get into. But in any event it was good to grapple with it with people who didn’t.  I was impressed by the range of visual and crafting, as well as writing skills that other participants brought to the party. (Of course, having actually got what the workshop was to be about initially, it probably was more likely that they would know where they were at!)

As always though, it’s grand to have a chance to see shiny minds at work. I was struck by a kind of ‘lightness of step’ that I admire a great deal in much of what people were doing. Watching (and listening) to this I sometimes feel I’m gazing at dancers in point shoes bourrée their way past a place where I’ve stomped in with wellies and a view to some spadework.

This morning, however, I thought of a way of bringing some of my partly developed efforts from yesterday together. Of course it took about three and a half hours to make – but here it is, in all its thirty second splendour!  With thanks to Helen and Malcy for a very educational and interesting experience, and to all the other participants, for being rather amazing…

 Stravaig:

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Unscheduled tangents at half past eight

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 CHOICE 

So many alternatives

Here, there, everywhere.

Shall I, shan’t I?

Rolled, unrolled?

A multiverse of tuneable futures.

The Lady Vanishes

Was she real, was she ever, or was she

The impure fluid green fairy of liquid confusion?

Do all her accessories also dissolve,

Or she herself alone, leaving only air

To cosset a sudden feminine free-falling of silk, chiffon, and organza?

See Pick of the Day

Best of the batch, top of the heap

Today’s top tale, or tomorrow’s –

Back when chips had a whiff of printer’s vinegar –

STOP PRESS! (red ink, block caps) –

A late-night poke from Brattisani’s wafting so salt-n-saucily into the house.

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(Until 2004 Brattisani’s was a family run fish-and-chip shop in Edinburgh, reputedly the first, or one of the first, in Scotland)

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