Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Three Random Words

poetry in Ireland
A few weeks ago I was staying up late writing and I found a series of poems that I had written at university. Most of the ones that I wrote back then were uniformly terrible, these are different because I asked for the inspiration from my friends. I asked for a few buzz-words to get me started and then had to include those words in the poem that I wrote.

Now with the wonders of social media just a few minutes after remembering how much fun these had been to do I could ask friends around the world for their ideas. I sent out a plea for three random words. The selections that I got were certainly random: they included ‘clown’, ‘hokum’ and ‘axolotl’. So going from this I wrote four poems and had more fun writing them than I have for a long time writing poetry.

I mentioned this in an email to one of my friends who had suggested ideas for the original batch of poems and he suggested that I should try to write a hundred poems and use those to get a collection together of poems all inspired by three random words.  My first thought was “well, that’s ridiculous’ followed quickly by “actually that would be a lot of fun” and then “I need help”.

Now I am fully aware that there are lots of people who think I need a lot of help anyway but I need specific help at the moment. If I am going to be able to write a hundred poems I need one hundred sets of three random words. I know an awful lot of creative people and I intend on harassing people until I get them.

My only worry is that it worked really well when people didn’t know why I was asking for three words but as soon as I say that it’s going to be for a poem I worry that one of two things will happen. One: people will try to make it too difficult just to see how ridiculous they can make them. Two: people will try and give me ‘poetry-ish’ words rather than really random words. The second is a lot less of a problem because if I wanted really random words I could use a word generator but I like the personal aspect and it’s even more fun when I know the people sending me ideas.

The plan: I am going to try to write a hundred poems based on thee random words sent to me by anyone who has the time to type the first three words that they think of, or their three favourite words – I don’t mind at all. People can certainly send more than one set of words. If you would be as kind as to mention this to people who you think would like to help me out that would be wonderful. I will put it up on twitter, facebook, around email lists etc. and even in real live conversations! The more I get the better.

I will post the poems on here and people can laugh at how I manage to get kumquat, xylophone and monkey into a poem. In case you are wondering, this is how:

"The New World"

An old man's toothless smile
as his street organ plays a
wild-xylophone lament.
The daily grind with only
a monkey to keep the company,
while he tips his hat -
hoping others will too.
As the century turns on there is
a Fortune to be made.
Tea, silkworms, kumquats and peonies
are the new Gods,
and the street falls silent.

So, there you go. Please help me!


p.s. I'll happily accept word-ideas from the comments, in emails, over Twitter, Facebook, snail mail, morse code, really however suits you best.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Original Collage

My shop on Etsy is split between cards and collages and the collages are half under the 'Original Collage' section and half under the 'Abstract Collage'. This is because there is no 'Original Abstract Collage' box. Not surprising really.

While I was talking about branding I explained that I started making collages because I wanted a way of displaying the poetry I was writing. I still do both but no longer together. The original poetry collages are still up on my walls and I thought I'd pop a couple of them on here as examples.

They are not overly neat and they don't fit to copyright legislations. They are however a reminder to me of why I started making collages and  when I'm having a very un-creative day (yep, like today) it's nice to see them sitting there. And now here.


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Peaks Pottering

While I was in London one of the things that I missed most was the easy access to the Peak District.
I am deep in the middle of researching copyright law - it's fascinating, enthralling and I can't wait to get back to it. Nope. All of that last bit was a lie but I need to read it. Yuck.
So instead of actually writing something here I'm putting up Peak District pictures. Okay.


Monday, 13 June 2011

A Little Abstract

I've started a new line of collages which have gone up on Etsy over the past week or so. I think of them as two-layer collages. The base is a photograph which I have taken at some point and then printed to an A4 size, either with a small border or filling the whole page.

The second layer is the collage stage where I use the materials I love working with to create a secondary picture above the original, working with it at the same time. A compliment and contrast method, if you will.

I'm having a lot of fun with them but it's really hard choosing which photographs I want to use to begin with. After that it all seems to fall into place. I have a couple of other projects going and I am still taking my information out to places for consignment.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Small Fry

from 2008

Let me take you back in time to 2008. I had just finished University and had been working on translating Spring's Awakening. I don't remember the exact timeline but at some point the idea for Big Fish: The Musical was born in either my brain or within the scarily-similar brain of my friend Sawyer (the Spring's translation was entirely his fault). While I was in NC a little later I emailed Prof. Daniel Wallace about the project and he was kind enough to reply. I got a large portion of it done but I'm not a musician and so I was only writing the libretto and general staging.

This week Playbill announced that the musical version of Big Fish was going to be showing on Broadway in 2012. They have an amazing list of creatives involved and Hugh Jackman was reading for it, so that can't be a bad thing! I am so excited about seeing it but it made me nostalgic for the version that I had been working on.

So, below is the prologue that I had written as the opening scene. I was working from the book of Big Fish, not the film of the same name. The book is darker and more involved and I think better. Saying that I do love the film. Clearly the ideas and characters for this were inspired by Daniel Wallace's novel and I own no part of that, at all. This was just an intellectual (ish!) exercise. Now all of my notes can go up in the attic and be nothing but a happy memory. I'm thrilled to bits that this musical is being made, it's perfect for the medium. It has also made me want to get back to playwriting (oh dear...). This is as good a time as any to shout out that my other bits of writing are in the pages across the top of the blog (look up!) if anyone's interested.

Big Fish: A Musical


Adult William walks to centre and begins to speak.

You’ve probably heard of my father. His name was Edward Bloom.

He was born during the worst drought Alabama had seen in forty years.

When he was young he walked to school in every sort of weather. He knew everyone and everyone knew him.

He met a woman with one eye, a giant, a mermaid, and one very big fish.

He made friends. He made enemies.

He met my mother. He fought for her and he won.

He did the impossible and he made it look easy.
He went to war. He came home again

He had a son. He became a hero.

He saved lives. He brought a town back from the dead.
He fell in love for the second time. And she lost him. And he lost her.

He lived. He really lived, did my father.

And he did the most extraordinary, unexpected, unbelievable thing.
He died.

As Adult William finishes speaking the curtain lifts and the ‘change’ melody begins to play.

So there it is. The it-never-happened version of Big Fish: The Musical that I loved writing and thinking about. On to the next. And if you can get to Broadway - I'd bet this is one to watch.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Traveling Stories

Traveling Stories is a non-profit organisation started by Emily Moberly.They provide books to children who have none and try to get kids enthused about reading. Fantastic - right?

The benefits of books for children and teenagers has been everywhere recently. Books shaped my personality, they define who I am and I read more than I do almost anything else. This is a wonderful charity and I wanted to do a little something to raise awareness of it.

The other day Zoƫ Marriott wrote about how books have impacted on her and who she is as a person, I couldn't put it better so here's what she says about it.

I remember the books that changed who I am. Many of the books that I read as a child have become a part of my consciousness; The Wind in the Willows, Tales of the Early World and Lend Me Your Wings especially (I just realised all of these are animals-that-talk books, no wonder I am so loosely attached to reality).

I was very fortunate as a child to have bibliophiles for parents and so read the classics pretty young, I can't imagine not having access to literature but so many children don't. I completely love what Traveling Stories is doing and hope they continue to grow and do well.

Most of the books that I have read as an adult have affected my ideas as well. For example, Les Miserables changed how I view religion and redemption. I realised the impact Don Foster's Author Unknown had had on me while talking to fellow book-fans at a book launch event the other day. It's something I read while I was in high-school and it changed the way that I write as well as what I read. Foster shows how everything we read and consume becomes a part of our consciousness and how this impacts on writing. He uses this to trace anonymous writings back to their authors. I'm not blindly advocating post hoc ergo propter hoc but I do think that we absorb more of literature than we are really aware. I have ordered a spare copy of his book to lend out to people because I can't bear to part with mine!

The Once and Future King by T.H. White is in my top five favourite books (the exact order moved around depending on my mood). Something that Merlin says to Arthur strikes very true with the case of Traveling Stories:

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow,  "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn."

There's so much we can learn from reading and Traveling Stories is a fantastic way of taking this great experience to as many people as possible.

Have a look at their website, it's a pretty amazing thing.


Friday, 3 June 2011

St. Winifred's

I blame the weather. It's been almost a whole week of lovely weather so yet again I'm putting up pictures instead of actually saying anything. Probably for the best. I don't make a lot of sense anyway.

The annual flower festival was on in my next-door village so we had a nose around and I took some photographs of the churchyard for my collage stock.

Despite it being a very sunny day the light inside the church was patchy and I didn't really want to use the tripod so the pictures are a bit scratchy. There is some of the most lovely stone carving I have ever seen inside and a little bit of a mystery as to where the tomb meant to be held beneath it has gone to, which is always good.

There was a window showing St. Paul holding a book and a sword, instantly warmed to him. Seems like my sort of a chap.

And some very nice crosses outside in the yard.