broken machines/hearts & magpies

Recent news. I went to see Every Rendition on a Broken Machine, performed live by the writer Ross Sutherland at Toynbee Studios, organised by Penned in the Margins aka Tom Chivers. I can only assume it will be on Channel 4 soon because this documentary needs airing. I loved it. It was not only interesting, but told with Sutherland’s natural humour. Being live, your eyes darted from him to the screen, but I liked to look at the screen, so that the sound was like a voice-over. The film was about internet poetry, so a a poet (and internet addict), I obviously found this engaging. However, I think even non-poets would like to watch it. I mean, it features Clarissa Explains it All. Come on!

Yesterday I had the first workshop for Word’s a Stage. It was great meeting the other poets – Selina Nwulu, Anthony Hett, Errol McGlashan. We are being mentored by Malika Booker, who my Mum has banged on about since I first started reading my poetry to audiences 6 years ago (when Booker was involved in the education department at Apples & Snakes, since my Mum works at a school). She has been fantastic so far and I’m looking forward to the next session, once I’ve done my “homepleasure” in developing my character for the piece I’ve written more and re-draft it.

After a long but inspiring day (10am-5pm) I met with my parents, had some Nando’s (of course) and went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’d read the book some years ago and enjoyed it but couldn’t remember the plot (I’m terrible). We were going to see On the Road, but it had got bad reviews and there are so many films I want to see, we decided not to chance it. It ended up being a bonus that I couldn’t remember it, and although it broke me, it was truly awesome – and not in the slang-way, in the real way.

The quote ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’ is in itself genius, but turned into film, you felt like you were inside it. Needless to say, I cried throughout it. It wasn’t perfect; I didn’t understand it when the character of Sam said “I’m not bulimic, I’m bulim-ist” and this idea wasn’t explored any deeper. If the characters are going to laugh along to lines like that, I just think there should be more to it than that, especially with the current growth of pro-ana people (Say what?! Google it). Other than that moment, it was tragic and beautiful and so moving. It just made you feel so vulnerable afterwards.

Anyway, read the book too. I feel like I need to read it again now.

The last thing I want to write about is the last issue of Poetry Review. Tom Philips’ work was shown on the cover, which I liked as both poetry and visual art. While we’re on that subject, submit to Poetry & Paint. I enjoyed Chrissy Williams’ piece ‘From Page to Stage’ as it’s on my wavelength. I also loved reading Katy Evans-Bush write about Adventures in Form, and On Poetry because I had actually read both books! And now for some quick summaries on why I liked certain poets:

Chris McCabe: the first poet in the collection that caught my attention, with a beautiful use of language and caesuras.

Michael Hofmann: I liked the juxtaposition of items in a broken list, from the idea of bar-coding people to the familiarity of the use of ‘maiden name’ and the general ‘GSOH’.

C.J. Driver: The use of rhythm and the subtleties of language gives it a musicality, and an ephemeral quality.

Carrie Etter: Raw emotion is sculptured into metaphor, with wonders such as “I wanted to sprinkle a little /into flour, egg and cocoa/and feed the cake of you to everyone.”

Karen McCarthy Woolf: I loved the uniqueness of this piece, with descriptions like modern relic, and it’s mixture of humour and tragedy.

Edward Mackay: Although I couldn’t relate to this poem, I admired the way it was crafted into the shape of Wales.

Declan Ryan: There was a tonal quality to the first stanza with which I couldn’t identify, but I enjoyed gems such as “This isn’t an answer or a letter -/it’s only a cup of coffee after lunch”. This is when the poem took off, for me, and I liked the use of simile and metaphor, contrasted with simple dialogue.

Robert Stein: I liked the voice of this poem, and the funny phrases such as “Before falling in love with you…” in its desire to make love logical.

Naomi Foyle: This is probably my favourite poem of this collection. I loved every part of it and would love to read more.

Hannah Lowe: I liked that I could relate to the environment of the dance class, and twist of the final line: “he’s the cab my mother sends for me.”

Amy Acre: This is my joint favourite poem. I know Acre from her live performances, and it was a joy to find this poem included. Really clever and well-written, and lines such as “gathering strength like the hems of skirts. You are a continent.”


Grayson Perry is a Classy Laddy

Channel 4 is doing these documentaries about taste, presented by Grayson Perry called ‘In the Best Possible Taste’. The first have been about the working class and the middle class. I acknowledge I am middle class, people call me middle class and I don’t have much opinion on it because I don’t really care what class a person is (but I suppose that’s a middle class thing?) I have been annoyed at certain assumptions that have been made about me by dear friends simply because they see me as middle class, because, for me, I don’t like reinforcing divides in that way and being told that because of my class that I am a certain way or my life has been a certain way etc.

My Mum is working class, my Dad is middle class, and I’m somewhere in between – but leaning more towards middle class (especially as through the years my house has got bigger as we’ve moved as a family, and I’ve been to university). Perry himself states education is the pathway to upward mobility.

He revealed that two thirds of us are now say we’re middle class, as opposed to 25 years ago when two thirds identified themselves as working class. In terms of working class tastes… I have so many ornaments and emblems of memories that I have to put some in boxes now, much to my dismay. Another aspect would be the idea of dressing up, being “glamourous” and wearing bright colours… but I have a feeling this is where I start to go into the middle class zone.

One of the main things that I got from the working class part was that the taste you had was to show you were part of a group. Maybe it is a middle class notion, but I would have thought it was more of a Western concept, that I value independence. I like to think for myself, and I like it when others can do the same. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who follow and copy each other and can’t stand to be separated. However, I think this says that we are far more complicated than our class. Although I value independence, I   am increasingly seeing the importance of interdependence and have written a piece about that here from Zukuri UnLtd.

Now, on to the middle class part of the series. I like cakes. I HATE Range Rovers. Generally, I’m not a fan of brands. If I like a brand, I’m very selective… Adidas, Cath Kidson and Chanel (the latter of which I can’t afford). Without realising it, that selection says a lot about me and my class. As does the tagine on the table in the documentary. I would probably have one for my kitchen when I’m older.

On the programme they say that the middle class originates from merchants, being self-made – and that kind of goes with the idea of being an entrepreneur. It’s the ‘class that doesn’t know it’s place… they’ve struggled and got where they are’ etc. Within the middle class there are different types it seems. I wonder what type I am. The idea of ‘vintage’ obviously appeals to me. Though people mock and resist the idea, and try to cling on to working class roots, me and a fair few of my friends would fit in with the indie/hipster/scene/vintage/retro labels. ‘Bestowing our individuality’. This song by Say Anything shows the contradiction here perfectly.

Perhaps I am neither class, because I am “a creative”. One woman that features in the middle class part of the series states that Perry still has the ‘unkempt hair of a creative’ which is very much like myself. No matter how doll-like my face is made-up to be, my hair will not be tamed. Or, maybe my desire to be an individual, as opposed to part of a group, just highlights how middle class I am. As Perry says, the middle class are the class most aware of their choices and that is both a blessing and a curse. Though I don’t identify with the upper middle class, I feel like I don’t fit with the lower middle class… so am I the middle middle class? Or do I not fit anywhere until I am an adult existing on my own, without the comfort of my parental home? And, then, what makes one middle class – education, speech, manner, money, taste, or what?

middle class taste: cupcake ornaments, Soap & Glory, faux-Retro signage, Adidas, Converse, vintage clothes, hats and festival wristbands…all on a bed (literally) of Cath Kidson duvet. And a mask.

I didn’t feel I had much to say about upper class taste. The idea of being “appropriate” and putting on a “uniform” could not be more opposed to me. However, the more quirky people and those that defied their ancestors were more my cup of tea. That kind of bohemian spirit that my Dad says I have, like my Gran. And the way I believe that Converse should always be worn dirty. However, these people seem to have more in common with the middle class, with a desire to be individual, rather than just one in a pack.

Well, interesting stuff. Perhaps I should end with something more poetry-related. Don’t worry, my next post is due to be all about poetry. Though I hope to get back to this and view the tapestries he’s made one day. Anyway, here’s a poem to end it on, which I actually wrote before this programme but it kind of deals with similar themes.


You’ll analyse my glottal stop,
my gloʔal stop, my glottal
stop. You’ll analyse my punctuation,
vocab and my polka-dots.

You’ll look at my lips,
look at my eyes, the mic
stand between
my two thighs.

You’ll see the content,
and the form, as I
read to you, as I perform.

You’ll look inside
each word I say, see how
the d and o do play.

You’ll hear each letter,
each diction choice, each y-o-u
inside my voice.

You’ll analyse my glottal stop,
my gloʔal stop, my glottal
stop. You’ll analyse my punctuation,
vocab and my polka-dots.