Surprise, Surprise

Yesterday, at about 10.45pm, I recorded my first poem. Well, that’s not strictly true: a lovely BBC Sound engineer in Manchester did it for me. 

At NO POINT in my planning was there provision to get anything other than a mention in passing for this project. It wasn’t about recognition, after all, just to give back to my home town, which I’ve now done with some style. To talk to one of the Project founders, and a poet in residence, was a brilliantly unexpected bonus. It took that Guardian mention and knocked it out of sight. I’m gonna be thanking these people in dispatches for quite some time to come.

EVERYTHING that’s changed my course this year has come from a willingness to be vulnerable, to place mind and body in situations that were previously frightening. The knock on effects from this are only beginning to register, but in last night’s recording I can hear my own fear, nervousness in voice that comes from being exposed to an audience. In time, I’ll get my head around it. It will get better with practice.

All these things will improve with practice.

Here’s the poem I read on the show.


Two Tree Island ::
Bleak, Hoarse

Golden hour,
I came here to begin
next chapter’s transformation

remade through other’s imagery,
inspired
earth to sky,
brown
to gold
adheres, presenting unexpectedly

grubby printed brilliance, webbed feet
pointing path, open silt bar
my usual; steaming,
anticipated
epiphany of
self abstained, regained.

I asked for a sign;
you gave
graffiti covered
rubberised playgrounds
broken boats
peeling
saint’s
names

Pier’s glorious insertion, failures forgotten
thousand harsh rejections sail away
masts of possibility remain,
renewed
mirrored sunrise
into grateful eyes.

Bleak, hoarse failure recedes
to seeds,
green runway, as above, first plane

softens

mumbling to trains.


I really hope this isn’t the last time I read a poem on national radio. This is a pretty high benchmark to exceed.

I do so love a challenge.

Words

Sitting here, catching up on the last week or so, finishing the poetry project seems a lifetime ago.

My health club was presented with an A3 poster of the Blaze poem on Tuesday, and A4 copies went to everyone who featured in the poem at their relevant classes (as there are two a week.) There were unexpected tears, and genuine pleasure that I could thank so many people for inspiring me to greatness. Then, on Thursday, I bumped into the woman who was responsible for a significant change in direction of my narrative.

I’ll spend some time next week taking all the pictures produced for the project and shoving them in a Portfolio, allowing everything photographic to be accessible from the website. It’s been lovely to get unprompted, independent feedback too, especially as I ended up being featured on the PoP Facebook site as a ‘Poem of the Day.’

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The plan has been to have a rest, and having done so, to start July fresh and with some new ideas… so I suppose I’d better get started on that sooner rather than later. I’ll be honest, however: there’s not going to be weekly poetry again until probably September. I need a rest, but more significantly, it’s become apparent from this project that my style has begun to evolve.

This is probably the moment to go practice on my own for a while, enter some works in specific contests, then see what happens as a result.

The Final Countdown

It’s done… well, the technical bit is. All the poems are pinned on the site, I just need to do my part of the deal and fill in the back end details. As of typing this, all but five of those poems are now up and linked with pictures. By Wednesday, as planned, we will be done.

Revelations have risen from this journey that have been singularly unexpected. The reactions I’ve received, support that has been offered beyond considerable. It started as a means by which I could give back to the town, but so much has been given back without even asking. I’ll be printing out a version of the Jazz poem for the lovely people at the Centre who were so kind to me, and one for the member of staff at the Beecroft Gallery who changes my outlook so early on.

These people’s generosity has been the unexpected and brilliant bonus to this five week’s worth of work. Once I’m done, there will be time taken to consider what I’ve learnt, ensuring it all gets use down the line. This is truly the project that’s really altered not only my outlook on poetry, but on how I have become a better person thanks to the ability to shave away small slivers of my soul before binding them to moments captured photographically.

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Everything has come together perfectly, and I could not be happier.

Find Time

It is high time for an update on the Project Du Jour, I feel.

The first poetry has already been pinned on the Places of Poetry site.

Watching poems appear on their site has been possibly the most satisfied I have ever felt about anything ever made. Public access projects are a rarity in the modern world: you’re not making any money, after all, so what’s the point in taking part? For me, it is exactly that which made this project so appealing. Nobody else gets to judge my work, it is simply accepted on merit regardless, will exist virtually as testament to my town.

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That allows a freedom of expression that is often lacking in other places: no need to write ‘a certain way’ or to conform to a particular (or popular) poetic style. My voice is allowed unhindered freedom of expression, and that in it self is a joyous, liberating experience. It means being able to express feelings that previously had no way of effectively releasing themselves from my brain.

If I’m totally honest with myself, that’s the best part of all about this entire project.

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I am still on target for a Wednesday finish: all poems will be ‘pinned’ by Monday night, and then it’s just up to me to do the back-end work as a follow up. After that, you can absolutely bet there will be a celebratory glass of summat raised at a project that’s fundamentally altered my relationship with poetry for good.

The Fix

I’d like to talk to you today about my side hustle, because everybody has one in the modern world. Poetry was (and still is) not the initial day job plan. I’d like to work on short stories and novels, as well as the prosaic, with the plan going forward to do just that over this Summer. Except, in the modern world, you’re allowed to be good at more than one thing without people getting upset.

Words are, undoubtedly, the things that matter most.

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Proper Bard was established as the landing site for my online output, just as Arguto was meant to be an online fanzine (and still will be, watch this space in October) and so it is only right and proper to launch it with the Places of Poetry project. As you read this, the first poem is indeed live, having been pinned on the official site first, and that’s the plan going forward. My place gives background pictures and history to accompany the official presence.

However, it is only a part of a larger empire of sites and ideas, what will ultimately all fall under the Internet of Words banner. When I started the journey a couple of years ago, that was the plan: all these different strands of media, interconnecting, and becoming a great whole together than exists separately and alone. Thus far, that whole thing seems to be working out pretty well.

Watch this Space for further developments.

Almost and Always

Okay, I admit it, I’ve only just grasped the importance of organising yourself properly.

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It’s taken a long, long time: all the planners and tick lists and bullet pointing IN THE WORLD will not allow you to fulfil things unless you fully and totally, 100% commit to the task. Previously, I’ll be honest: I’d get bored, or there’d be a crisis of confidence where the pre-planning didn’t allow me to continue momentum to the end of a project. NOT ANY MORE. This week, I’m so utterly and totally here for the end game.

Now we just need to do the work. I have photographs that aren’t good enough for the purposes they are required for and require a reshoot. The poetry still needs work: there are rough edges to be smoothed and over-painted. The mechanics of the website require thought and then some quite serious manipulation of my photography to fit the optimal dimensions of my project.

All this will be done by week’s end, OH YES.

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Keep an eye on properbard.com, which has become my defacto hosting site, and I’ll let you know when we’re done. The plan is to make the end of June, as I planned would happen, just because sometimes you need to believe not only can you come in on time and under budget, but also with a product you are insanely proud of. Trust me, I am VERY proud of all of this.

This is my new best thing.

Feeling Groovy

The hard work is now done: 24 poems are ‘completed’ for my Places of Poetry #EndOfTheFear project. There will now be a much needed period of Not Thinking About Poetry At All before I begin the last pass edit/polish process. During that time the online portion of affairs will be organised, in anticipation of uploading the pieces to the ‘official’ website. Without getting too smug, I’m incredibly pleased with what’s been produced.

End of the Fear #1

When the idea first germinated, I had no idea of how much personally I’d be affected not just by subject matter, but the places themselves. Nearly all of these poems have been in part written at the places they’re matched with, and doing so ‘in situ’ has quite fundamentally altered the process of how I approach writing. My writing style is also significantly different now to the way it was when this journey began.

The plan remains that not only will I offer some history behind each of the chosen locations on my own website, but a peek into the creative motivations of each piece, so won’t go into too much detail here as a result. Needless to say the most satisfying poems undoubtedly come from those areas where my mental and physical interests connect most strongly.

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Most satisfying of all however has been the photography process, which has netted over 500 pictures of the borough, a useful and satisfying pool of visual accompaniment. It’s made me realise that perhaps, the most important part of process involves doing stuff that makes me happy. If one change is made to daily life as a result of all this it will be to find hobbies that keep that sense of satisfaction alive, and that’s already being worked on.

There’ll be no blog on Wednesday this week, as I’m off to the West Country for a funeral, but we’ll be back on Friday with some early details of what the website portion of proceedings will look like when the Project is complete.

I’ll see you then.