And so it begins.....

Next spring I will be launching my first exhibition of art infused poetry in Cornwall. This blog is to advertise and update events and above all keep me on track by recording the highs and lows of this enterprize in my posts.

Official Dates of Exhibitions

'The Old Press Gallery' (St Austell)
PREVIEW EVENING - Friday 22nd March 2013 7pm - 9pm

EXHIBITION STARTS - Saturday 23rd-28th March 2013

'Cornish Studies Library' (Redruth)
EXHIBITION STARTS - Tuesday 2nd-6th April 2013

Friday, 12 June 2015

A Monopoly On Death

I feel this post (as always long overdue) is one that I am most compelled to write being recently exposed to death in the most traumatic way. I will not however blunder into emotional cathartic outpourings. The reason for writing this on a boarder spectrum expands my reasoning on personal values and the various complex thoughts that strain my judgement regarding the sense of suicide.

Firstly one could consider just a few of the fundamental personal values adopted by western civilisation, what we do, say, and who we are as responsible, respectful human beings. In all of our superior understanding you would think that people could mediate the sacredness of the value we place on ourselves as equal to the value we place on our fellow humans. Does society adopt too easily a mocking tone and biased attitude towards suicide? I believe that not a day goes by when a dropped euphemism "god I'm loosing the will to live" or "this is terrible, somebody shoot me".  Lets not go too deeply into morals, as even if not acted upon it is understood what is good and bad regarding human behaviour. Instead I will swiftly turn towards choice in ending ones individual existence.

The subject of elected suicide has recently been drawn back into the news once again and until this highly controversial area of choosing death over life is tackled our understanding about personal preference and how we can start to value this too will never materialise. It would seem very cold to debate this in a black and white fashion thus I feel it most appropriate to place a solid (if somewhat old worldly) quote from the great educational and religious philosopher of the twentieth century M.V.C Jeffreys; 'History shows that people have found satisfaction and strength in various answers to the problems of existence.' If this is so then why would Jeffreys claim on the same page that; 'Man is at odds with his environment and with himself.' We can now surely define that there must be two differing modes of conscience when suicide becomes a persons choice to remove themselves from life and end their existence, but does one have more reason behind it than the other. Can taking ones life, whether in full health yet mentally traumatised or likewise suffering in the throngs of physical pain and discomfort, equally lead to relief. There are professors who have recently claimed that when any decision to elect suicide is taken that the days leading up to the fact are spent in a haze of happiness - almost, can one suggest euphoric relief, that the path is now clear to end one chapter and maybe enter into another. Again Jeffreys delivers his thoughts by proposing; 'man's salvation lies in losing himself in something greater than himself.' Can one be led into another life where the emphasis is not on ones own values placed at the front of ones existence but on a new community living in a utopia of selflessness. I would like to think that with the ones that are left behind a greater understanding links those of us together that have lost someone through suicide or any version of death.

Unfortunately at times this is not the case which leads me to my final thoughts of monopolising suffering through the loss of life. I would of dearly liked to discuss the more contemporary age that bequeaths this type of competitiveness with C S Lewis now I have read The Problem of Pain as my problems stem from percentages on who suffers the most from grief. As we are all different in the way our lives end similarly we are all different in how we choose to conduct ourselves when crippled with the pain of loss. We see people as possessions and when they are taken away it leaves a huge void. What is chosen to fill that void is what fascinates me and sadly one can be faced with the worst of characters who believe that there grief is a tidal wave that must sweep everyone along with them and dare you too experience death then watch out! The lime light must be kept focused squarely on them as they have the monopoly on death and suffering. Supporting one another is vital to pull through these dreadful harrowing times, these individuals merely make everyone suffer too but unfortunately the friends and relatives believe they are just sharing the grief. Some of us do not make a fuss the void remains an excavation that in its midst's swirls an air that can only follow its tail. Suicide is always a continuing cyclic motion of questions and thought but no endings; whether it is not a new beginning but just a different way to live it can only be more of a lived life and less just a mere existence if all societies and communities learn to share with one another. Personal values are falling away as more opinion and less listening occurs. Real communication seems altered so that understanding means to only understand your own aims and reasons to why you do and say and are who you are. Everyone else can cease to exist, unless you are 2D, flat, faceless with over ten likes - people are score cards. Approaching the subject of suicide can't come any sooner and must not get any later in the education diary. Nobody has the right to monopolise death or any of the topics surrounding it, we are free as a civilised race to face it, discuss it and equally empathise with each other when we have experienced it.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Back in June 2013 I eluded to a poem based on the painting DISCORD [1943] by Lowry. This is it....Hello again, it's nice to be back....

Old Weird North (after Lowry)
Either strangeness - full of sticks
or fellows with oily buttery skin
outlined like an Egyptian eye
encased in ruddy brick
It only makes his mouth twitch -
this North
Where men present there rigid backs -
tombstone stance
A few wives pause
between line    peg   and sheet
what was a fleeting chance
a pigeon soon puts stop to that
Isolated and obsolete - together
in two up two down
a grimy look to the broods
a frown from groggy clouds
catching the serpents
smoking their swirly chains
towards the sky
Lines of angled buildings
planted    out     tubas
puffing like a dowsed brass band
and the man with a heavy hand
smiting the land
the  dark        dark        land
His downward strokes 
pulls them feet first and  
all the throngs’ troop up the hill
leaning - as if in a
sharp        strong        wind
A mothers silence over the surface
Father      beyond family
past box      beyond frame
has lost for a moment his place
till recollects the Northern tone
sing the children face to face 
“brace them walls” for winter -
daub it white     so    white
when cold is there to ring
the rosy grey -
grey like the dog’s        bloodless        bone
and baby’s        lifeless        skin









Thursday, 12 December 2013

To argue or to not.....

I will now assert my reign over this argument.....

So lets consider the 'argument', firstly in terms most people recognise - it is quite an affront when an argument commences between strangers; your either always prepared (a 'bicker badge' - that never was offered when I was at Guides) and throw many years of experience and relative wisdom into the tussle, or your left scarred for next few days wondering how it all 'kicked off'. Car parks, queues, supermarkets; irate mothers in school playgrounds are all gladiatorial sites for confrontation. Closer to home arguments are wounding, restrictive and sometimes fatal - or all can be put right over a cup of tea and an agreement to 'beg to differ'.

What of the argument in the world of the academics? Oh so many, many arguments and all on the basis of 'reason' so why would it be now after all this time on a degree would I question the argument?
Because I believe its banded about without any clear definition regarding the practise of reasoning. Lately two things have struck me whilst absorbing the comments that fly in the conference/seminar rooms of University. One is the matter of being responsible in all areas of literary study and the other is the group of words used to give direction to a question. Yesterday I was informed (formally) that to argue is another way to explore, this did not settle right with me, so I turned to the source of all best advice 'the dictionary' to confer. It is not the case that I did not see any reference towards exploration because it is there: 'to seek', but I find this a little underhand. By the word explore one feels that ones arms are wide, open to new things not peeping under chairs and behind doors. There is the possibility that the subject in question could be bigger.

(Big and small: a recent lecture I sat through exploring the Modernists view, the magnified view, the, don't over look this view.)

Moving on through arguments definition I also read: 'a quantity upon which another depends, or under which it is to be sought in a table' I know full well that this is pointing to the world of mathematics however if we change the latter 'in' to 'at' then an image of the argument in action suddenly comes to mind.
Do we not depend on our government to sit at the table and quantify reason within their debates? Earlier still with King Arthur and the infamous round table, did he not sit with his Knights to discuss what was best for his people of Camelot? A table so often is a division between asking and answering in all institutions of rule. It is also symbolic to discussion, as in an alter to offer something of our selves for the greater good. To plead, appease, persuade and wager we exchange opinions and demand proof of the value of others ideals and why? with reason there is a reasonable conclusion..... After all it has to be whittled down to what is right, doesn't it?
Yet that is not what literature is - the pages continue to be open to questions but not with wrath. How does this make sense in literature: pages of written words full of secrets luring us into centuries of excavation - to dig deep into the text, closer and closer. Can we argue with Shakespeare, Dante, Homer and Yeats? Asking them bluntly: "what is your writing for, is it valuable?" if we could, then there argument would certainly be useful, and it would remove the middle person who speaks on their behalf. The ones who with rigidity rise with letters after their names like add on carriages of clout.
To analyse (so science based - thank you structuralists for those images of the book slapped on the examination table), to explore (feel the tug of the wind on the sail Sir Walter Raleigh and Christopher Columbus) or to argue, there is at least one on this list that sounds staunchly one sided.

To be remonstrated against for a lack of argument seems futile when you look at the breadth of published work - who has the energy to stomp and bark all day ('Q')? It stands to reason that we have all approached our search for answers from the same source of resplendent knowledge; where people branch off  and deviate is just another way society has endeavoured to individualise themselves. I'm sure that this was not done by constant petty squabbling but by at least some decisive exploration.

Negative noun that it is, I'd prefer not to have to use it when thinking about questions raised about literature texts; if arguments are healthy - and only through my cultural belief do I debate (which must be around a table with pasta, a warm Rosso and a big smile) then my essays are poorly....but passionate. As a gorger and explorer of language, me the reader, has digested  and ruminated on many texts (well we've done it together) and if they could speak I hope it would be from around my table ....

Monday, 9 December 2013

Radio Time Again......

This Friday 13th December I will be making my self heard once again on Redruth Community Radio with Sue Farmer. The show airs at 3.30pm and I shall be reading two of my new poems which I've selected from a three chaptered collection I'm compiling ready for next summer.

I've decided to be a little more organized for this show and have a theme in mind - 'family'. As it is Christmas and a time when people will be considering all the aspects of family politics I want to highlight some recent events and how I believe they tie into this dutiful period.

My own poems which are family orientated at the core are also split geographically (being North and South respectfully) so the tone is very different in each one. Ultimately the crowning glory that I shall try and do justice to is a monumental poem by a lesser know Romantic poet, Elizabeth Hands. This is the best poem I've ever read regarding the perceptions of family life; it is dark, moving and very pertinent with the structure an ironic form of sonnet. I feel honoured that I can represent such an insightful poet who never reached the heights that the male writers of the Romantic period did.

I can honestly say after an extremely sorrowful few months this is a real boost to get back to what is centre to my creative world so I hope you can all listen in. It will also be included on my links after the show has been aired and recorded.

I am already preparing my next post on my suspicions of the argument in academic work..
...the worms are wriggling furiously in the can......

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

it's time for a little sprinkle....

Something astonishing occurred to me whilst watching the latest episode (21) of  The Arts Show. Broadcast from the new temporary home of The Turner Prize at an ex-army base in Derry, Ireland they had gathered some in the know art people to banter about their opinions on contemporary art and, if this year there was more of a feeling of 'inclusion'.

What made me so astonished though was the indirect comments of Grayson Perry (artist of ceramic urns with many a symbolically mood enhancing tale to tell) about the art scene today and how he would like more "internecine spats" between the different kinds of "tribes inside the contemporary art world". Very good, I think Jackson Pollock had the same idea.

So how does this relate to my point of place? Cornwall...lets start with Time and Change (caps are self evident) and the weight of dragging behind. Does the creative community give society a snapshot of a particular moment that is vital to expose about Cornwall? Where is the present, the now, the happening? How can Cornwall be declarative if it's voice is controlled by people of rooted institutions and with no branches to spare for new shoots. I look at the landscape around me and feel like it has given up waiting for communities to change and for it to be noted and expressed, it is taking its own course and evolving, but yawning all the same. How many more angles of boat, beach, bird, sea and surfer do artists need to commoditize the relevance of Cornwall's usage. I'm convinced that amongst the 'people' there are people who want to race against the herds and propel Cornwall into a new era of creative enterprise....but it would take one hell of a hefty shoulder.

Perry wisely observes the relevance of stand out artists who create work that "can be used as pixie dust to sprinkle on places which are wanting regeneration". These cultural movements into the now  can gain a healthy amount of interest and investment in the people and the place - look at Hull a proud City of Culture winner that will be showing off its stuff in 2017.

Too many moments are poorly supported and woefully unattended in Cornwall - even after months and months of advertising. I'm not suggesting that with the traditions that have long been held and tended to are not still receiving there rites of passage through the new generations - far from it, without these any other radical contributions would look exposed for what they are 'different', unnecessary; 'other'.

It is a tranquil place for the tussled urban artist to display their wares for a month or two, the unique light softening the harsh edges of the raw contemporary emotion of new. Art work often looks so much older in Tate St Ives, relic like and attic found. Nice.

My heart rarely beats to the rhythm of the new age we live in, the future seems to be a dark space with nothing hanging. Dribs and drabs that creep in and creep back out - no big explosions in this county. Can someone else start on a form of sculpture that can make the head reel with the sensuality of shape and texture (Damien Hirst's 'Verity', but Devon) or write a poem that expresses the image of a town going around in hopeless circles....I am here.....or a painting that announces that the sea is drained and off on its own holiday.

Just something outstanding - arm stretched out sprinkling the sparkles - Different.....

Monday, 11 November 2013

A mid-life chapter........

I'm now eight weeks into my third year of this English Degree. How am I progressing? Well that is in the hands of my new lecturers (I've submitted my first two essays). But that's not what I want to discuss here....

I have become increasingly aware that changes are happening in my thinking, learning and formulating capacity - almost as if I have reverted back to being on the brink of infant absorption. The mighty hold of literature is not barring my way; new forms and revisions of  theories are on the boil. I am a melting pot of ideas. So what is this development and how can it be happening so late in my life. One conclusion is that the more I write the more I understand the motivation of language, it is taking me along with it, we are strolling and talking. At curfew I'm led back to where words dwell and I settle in with the pages to read, redundant of any further input from my own expression. This revision is a whole new cognitive structure and I do not believe that I'm loosing any of my 'little grey cells', quite the contrary, I'm growing them.....

Could this be possible? I'm positive that this process is not an expansion of anything I learnt in the past, rather: it is not a treasure trove of buried repressed intellect in my subconscious. I wonder if this is a reserve of brain matter that is lying dormant for precisely this period in my life; if not used it will simply dissolve.

To read of other writers that connect threads through fiction and theories is a huge stimulant. I also strongly believe that if you don't agree with their thesis then change tack....make your own coherent argument. It is never enough to just disagree, or lamely complain. Ideas are orbs that float inside the mind, firing and fading - so one has to be quick. Our conceptual systems are like shutters on a camera (the very old ones anyway) the greatest of ideas can momentarily feel like there on a long exposure, the orbs stretching like tentacles. And like any beautifully figured equation the points need to be joined and patterns formed.

I am formulating a new idea, connective threads are waving and it is very exciting. My central word is ideology.....I'm willing to except that this concept in practise is still valuable, however the world is ever more idiosyncratic and our social behaviours are breaking down to such an extent that to generalise on structured formula's that we abide to might be too simplistic. We are still drifting in a post-modern phenomena - but it feels over extended. The consequences that build on a daily basis due to societies actions and the institutions in power need to be acquainted to new terms: obviously these ideologies are not functioning as well as humanity would like. I would like to see a new system which configures what influences the world today, but not to harmfully disrupt the previous set pattern of organised ideals as these are long formed and complex.

This is a long term diversion, firstly I must find a way to write about D. H. Lawrence which actually seems a far less daunting task now I'm reading Ulysses. Why does Molly Bloom remind me of Elsie Tanner so much? Better get the pan on.....

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What about Yeats......?

I've come to Yeats late in life - not that I was unaware of him as a poet. The most important thing is I've cast another thread that links my devotion to Blake and Clemo. So what is it about this 'Mystic' description of these poets that enthrals me so much? Well it is still an on-going investigation that broadens over time. I keep collecting all this inspiration and adding to it as it filters through the mass of poetry I read. I had a remarkable chance just recently to voice my thoughts on my reading traits in a meeting with the poet Alyson Hallet (see links).
I booked the session through 'The Poetry Society' and every minute was a revelation. This was time to discuss not only my own writing but the reasons behind what I like in the writers I indulge in. The next discussion was narrative voice, does it tell the truth? This matter of truth can be a heavy burden to the writer and at times you can question not just why one writes poetry but how. Technique obviously is picked up on and the keys used to unlock each subject matter can also be scrutinized. I still maintain that I quite happily lug my case full of observations with me (I like to call them snippets) and often I don't even have time to pack them as the poem is impatient to be heard. This is what I call the guts.... this is what I trust; I believe in this voice, thus I believe in the Mystic in me. I find talking to people that avoid poetry more fascinating than the endless time that the old hands and academics spend dissecting and accessing do. All that analysis of cause is valuable but if the truth is so important, and it is, then I want to hear it from ALL readers. The point is, or should I say the question is why do so many readers who avoid poetry find so much relief (when forced) in their moment of understanding to what you've presented on the page. Poetry becomes a revelation; more importantly it becomes memorable.
Coming back to my brilliant meeting with Alyson: my work, or should I say my words, are shifting a little uncomfortably under the glare yet it will bring about a change of voice volume. I will be a better poet if I turn up that Mystic inside. It also needs to focus more, the subject demands it. The clearer I become the more the poems will 'insist' in all honesty to anybody who takes the time to indulge. After all I took the time to create it for just that reason: consider  T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land' that took over a year to write - recently myself and a couple of fellow students had less than two hours to 'figure it out' - enough said......

 I find that the most important and helpful question to ask myself when I'm working on a poem is "Am I telling the truth?" TS Eliot said that the greatest difficulty for a poet is to distinguish between "what one really feels and what one would like to feel". (Cope, Wendy 2008, Online)