Last week I attended an interesting workshop by Alycia Pirmohamed, a Canadian-born poet based in the UK, and the winner of the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. The online event was part of Shetland Arts Wordplay 2021, and focused on ideas about landscape in poetry.
One of the writing exercises involved about envisaging a recent walk, and in another part of the workshop we studied a passage from Schizophrene – a ‘fragmented notebook’ by Bhanu Kapil. The passage made use of a lot of parentheses and, amongst other things, we talked about how this changed the way in which a reader interacted with the text.
Off the back of some of these ideas, and echoing a little with some of my previous forays into interactive poetry, I did a little coding and came up with a draft piece using a system of interactive parentheses. I know – bonkers! Anyhoo, it is called weel kent which is basically Scots for ‘very familiar’.
As with most of these interactive experiments, I can’t embed it here in the blog, but you can view it by tapping the button below which will open a new web page.
Like a quite lot of my pieces, weel kent is intended to be wry more than very serious.
Once you get there, if you tap square brackets  in the text, each parentheses will expand to reveal their own content. That stays for a little while, then fades away. If you tap again, it appears again, and so on…
weel kent was quite a quickly compiled experiment. It might have been interesting to play around with layout a little as well. Perhaps this could have reflected the form of the short walk described. However, while a web page is good for interactivity, print is a much easier medium to play fluidly with layout. Next time maybe…
I love the idea of landscape as layers upon layers of fragmented story, like an old hoarding in town where torn and muddled fragments of years of past paint and posters are visible if you have the time to look and pick a bit.
Stanza’s Poetry Map of Scotland – a map with a meta layer of poetry – appeals on many levels. This post is about an event next week where some contributors to the map (including yours truly) will be reading contributions as part of Book Week Scotland. There’s also an open mic for ‘readings from the map’ so you can join in too if you like (see below for details).
For Book Week Scotland in 2016, StAnza will turn its hugely popular project to map Scotland with poetry into a live event, taking place at Zest Coffee Shop in St Andrews on Thursday 24th November. More than 200 poems have been submitted since the project was launched in 2014. We have invited a selection of poets whose poems feature on the map to lead us on a poetic journey around Scotland, and Zest will make sure that we don’t lack food and drink for the trip.
Those taking part include Gordon Jarvie, Sue Haigh, Steve Smart, John Brewster and Lyn Moir. We’ll also have some open mic slots if anyone else would like to read their own poem from the map, or perhaps a poem from the map about a favourite place. You can browse the map online and if you’d like to ask for a reading slot, just email email@example.com. The event is free and unticketed but if you’d like to be sure of getting a seat, email firstname.lastname@example.org for that as well.
Meantime here are those details again, and we hope to see you there: Thursday 24 November 2016 18:30 – 20:00 at Zest Coffee Shop, 95 South Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9QW.
In the UK, if you’re over fifty, every couple of years you receive an excellent little test kit from the National Health Service. It does rather bring you down to basics. Before continuing can I raise a quick cheer for cancer screening. I know it’s a faff, but really, it does make sense – so if you’re in the age range and you’re contacted by a screening programme where you live, I would encourage you to get over the ick factor, and get on with it 🙂 !
Although the kit does come with excellent instructions, you do have to figure out your own method for some of the fine details (so to speak). I suspect that the kit has probably seldom been an inspiration for poetry, but I have always found the versatility of cardboard a very marvellous thing…
The same cloth
Dragon chewed edges chart
My cardboard construction skills,
Once creased castles to house plastic
Knights and errant imaginations.
Or a two foot Arc Royal flat-top as,
Floor bound navigators on our knees,
We projected playtime power.
The throne of easement today requires a
Temporary transom to stage my fifty something
Three day perforated tournament of poo sticks.
So salvaged corrugated cardboard,
Will again be pressed to unfold a counter,
And jury-rig a diagnostic flight deck.
Plate Ri-0 THE GREAT NEBULA OF ORION: A digital print of a photographic plate from the Ritchey 60-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, made in 1908. from the archive of the Carnegie Observatories, in Pasadena, California. more about this
Not all spaces weigh the same.
There are variations. The depths and darknesses,
Volume, lightness, and quintessences, of
Every emptiness’s chiaroscuro.
Not all spaces are devoid of presence, some
Harbour unstated substance in subtle doubt,
Pass trembling semaphores of existence,
Harmonise plainsung intimations of light.
Not all spaces are rendered on our charts, still
Undiscovered emptier places may await. Nulls of
Colder, quieter, unexpressed embraces. Voids as
Void as only absence might surrender.