Grand Designs

This week, all told, has pretty much gone exactly to plan.

Okay, there was a bit of a moment on Thursday and Friday, when I wondered (again) whether counselling during a major project was a good idea or not, but as it transpires everything is very much on track. I have completed poems too, plus so many fragments to sort that Monday of next week’s being put over just to that: organising what’s been produced so far, and what is as yet untouched.

Right now, there’s a lot of work still to do, but very little worry over how it will get done. Before I started the location work that was an issue, but not any more. The photographs are having exactly the desired effect: kick-starting brain into poetic action. In fact, the more places I go to and take shots of, the more fertile these ideas become. Next week however, I will take a pad an pen with me because however convenient it might be, typing on my phone is sub-optimal.

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Favourite picture today #EndOfTheFear

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Once the fragments are collated and saved into my master document, it’ll be time to work out which locations are still missing pictures, before I begin building the foundations of the collections’ permanent online home. They’ll be linked to the Places of Poetry website (of course) but the pictures I have will form this secondary holding space. As this is free to me (only costs the time, which I’ve rationalised as good practice for my picture taking skills) it will end up as a nice online portion of my CV.

Without further ado, it’s time to start pulling the disparate pieces of this puzzle together…

Moving Right Along

The hardest part of this week’s Project goals is now completed. The beginning of #EndOfTheFear had a rough idea of locations, vague grasp of titles: there are now fragments of poems to insert onto spaces. I can create a working document where everything lives and can be referred to. There’s also the vaguest ideas of how we do the web side of things (and space in which to place it) which means next up it’sΒ the photography element of proceedings to consider.

A couple of places already have pictures taken, selection of images to choose from. Next week, there’s a plan in place on my wall where we’ll be putting together geographically-close locations, getting to them early each day to take pictures. The plan is to have completed photos by lunchtime (travelling to places with a liquid breakfast after the School run) and then write poetry inspired by both places and pictures.

Writing the poems is happening in pieces every day. There’s already a tenable narrative thread front and centre, feelings to explore and expand upon, with proof that working in the locations gives a real sense of what matters and feels right at this point. I’ve taken a break today to write some poems for the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Body Image’ week starting on the 12th, which was a lovely change of pace.

All that needs to happen now is an awful lot of legwork.

Back to the Future

Tomorrow, we’re back to poetry after what was a scheduled break for real life and May Day bank holiday. I’m off to sit in the Jazz Centre tomorrow and write a poem, plus spend some time re-organising the game plan. You see, on Thursday night there was a bit of an epiphany about how the poetry’s picked and chosen going forward.

There needs to be a bigger human angle than was initially planned: initial selection of places was purely planned on geography. Sure these spots all have personal relevance, but what matters more, it is now apparent, is emotional resonance that specific spaces throw up. This became apparent last week in town, in a spot that didn’t previously merit a mark on the map but now does.

The poetic voice has most definitely altered during this planning progress. Doing counselling simultaneously is undoubtedly altering my mental landscape: this weekend proves that to be true beyond doubt. Therefore, tomorrow is a refocus of goals and objectives, where I need to go and take pictures, plus what the remainder of my locations will give in terms of emotional resonance.

Listing to a poetic voice that is altering on an almost daily basis is an odd experience, but the process is a natural progression from the space this journey originally begin in. I am not afraid of change, and never have been, and am confident everything will eventually find a level that is right and proper.

The goal, while this happens, is to keep on writing.

All That Jazz

On the first day of May, start of my ’24 Poems about Southend’ project #EndOfTheFear I took this Tweet as a good omen:

This being half a week, with a Bank Holiday tacked on at the start of next week, had been initially earmarked in my planning as Legwork. I may have lived in Southend for decades, but for a fair portion of the last 10 years I was genuinely scared to even go out my front door. A lot has changed, this mind was vaguely aware of. Today has taught me not just how much is different, but how I have altered too.

I went to the place where main town Library used to be… except it’s not there any more and instead there’s a Gallery, which hosts exhibitions such as the Sub Cultures one above. It taught me that a band I’d always thought were Southend based were indeed formed here, their album cover that’s ingrained into memoryΒ that stretch of road between here and London I always thought it was.

That however is nothing compared to the surprise I got going downstairs in the same building and discovering The Jazz Centre (UK)Β has been there for over two years. I’m partly embarrassed then staggered into disbelief that a place like this, which I have a real, personal interest in, could exist literally on my front door without realising that was the case. I’ll be off there again next week to write a poem.

However, this got me no closer to working out where they’d moved the Library. Eventually I found it, in a space that used to be a car park, and have brought home some selected reading on places and people of the town so that I may open my brain to the potential possibilities history can offer in writing poetry. Change has already wrought a profound effect on that progress: my initial plan is gonna need some revision.

Once upon a time this would have caused me considerable stress, having spent so long pulling disparate ideas together. Not any more. Now this shift in course feels like natural, correct progression, means by which both project and I will evolve as time goes on. It means that across the weekend we’ll look again at potential sites to dedicate poetry to and quite possibly amend a few.

I’m already looking forward to my destination tomorrow in anticipation.

F.E.A.R

Friday was my ‘soft-launch’ day for this project, which has been in planning, it must be said, since January. We’ve already discussed that daily poetry will vanish as a result, because let’s be honest, this requires a lot of thought, and not an inconsiderable amount of legwork. We’ll be doing the proper launch on Wednesday, where I’ll be at the local Library, starting a bit of essential historical background research.

All will be shared via Twitter, Instagram and blog, because that’s how these things work.

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You can also expect a reduction in the amount of floral pictures and of the sky. It’s time to find favourite architecture, of which there is an awful lot in the borough, plus landscapes and estuary views. I get to go down the pier for utterly legitimate business reasons and there will be some personal history revealed along the way. I’ve lived here since I was 22, after all. This town is very much in my blood.

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For my regular readers, many of these images will be familiar.Β These are places you’ll have seen before. What will be new is the poetry that accompanies them.

I’ll see you on Monday as months of planning finally comes to fruition.

First Steps

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct…

Frank Herbert, DUNE

I’ve been planning a particular project now for several months. As the launch date approaches, a moment or two of self-doubt is inevitable. Have I considered everything in terms of variables? Are my timescales realistic? What if nobody is interested?Β In this case, however, the results won’t be measured by traditional notions of success, at least not by me. I’ve already overachieved wildly. This is new, glorious territory.

To accommodate the new direction, for the entirety of May my normal working output will alter. Instead of daily poetry (9am and 5pm) you’ll instead get a new hashtag to follow: #EndOfTheFear.Β What this means right now remains a surprise, you’ll need to come back here next week to get the full rundown.Β Both Narrating and Soundtracking playlists remain unchanged, and there’s still a short story to read along with.

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This coming week therefore is a lot of legwork and preparation. Because of the way the month falls (2 days in April/3 days in May next week) there’ll also be a lack of poetry. There’s a very good reason for this: again, it’ll become apparent soon enough. Once upon a time I’d have tried to keep doing everything uninterrupted, but I’m smarter than that now. Some things must be put on hold, to dedicate full focus on larger aims.

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Once upon a time, everything just happened in my life. As I explained on Friday, a lot’s improved since the start of the year. Undoubtedly a lot of it is to do with how the process of work is approached: organisation, planning, realistic goals all factor into the equation. Occasionally, something unexpectedly brilliant happens and you realise that maybe, just maybe,Β this is the right path all along.

Strap in, folks. Things are about to get amazing.