Rite of Passage

In my day jumping the trains to London was a teenage rite of passage. As outlandish and mythical as it may now sound, there once really was a magical spiral staircase at Finsbury Park, and it fed directly down into the London Underground. Truth to say everybody knew about it, everybody used it and everybody took it for granted. Like a down-snake, or a disused helter skelter, it was a ride, a trick, a trick of transformation. All you  needed was a bit of vim and nerve and you could transform an invalid overground rail ticket into a newly-minted 3-zone London travelcard.  In one quick downward dive you could fall from Finsbury overland, spiralling right down into the tube network, and so into the throbbing veins of central London itself, and all for th price of a 3-zone travelcard. Jumping the trains into London was a veritable teenage craze, in my day.

Having said all that, the charm only seemed to work going into London. We overstretched ourselves mortally when we tried to dodge out, away from London. Notable was the time we tried to jump the trains as far North as we could get, and were apprehended in Birmingham, after Leicester Central had telegraphed ahead, with our descriptions and modus operandi. So when we did our handbag-drop-bum-rush routine on them for the night train out of New Street, they were already wise, and held us in a holding cell while they waited for the Transport Police. We had to phone my friend’s big sister. We were only set free after she finally showed up, gave some uniform some money, smiled winningly and flirtatiously at the right people and was heard berating us as she stomped us to her car.

“Next time” Big sister snarled “Phone someone else instead”.

Clutches of Love Online

A few weeks ago I posted up the Clutches of Love chapbook, including the wonderful introduction written for me by the inspiring psychedelic poet – Katya Lubarr. A few days later Katya emailed me asking me where the pieces were, the links didn’t work, she couldn’t find the pieces…I had a look and she was right.By Dave Challis March 2017

But  I was in the middle of National Poetry Writing Month, I was overwhelmed with rhyme and rhythm and iambic pentameters and dactylic feet, and worrying whether my sonnet was Shakespearean or Petarchan…the rigours of re-editing the blog-posting seemed beyond my grasp.

But that’s all over now, so finally, I have managed to make all the links work, so that the whole chapbook can be read online – here Clutches of Love

ENJOY!

 

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We Wrote, And Wrote, And Wrote

Here, for your pleasure,  is the report I wrote for The Edge Cafe Newsletter April 2018 about the Creative Writing group at The Edge Cafe…

On 12th January this year a thronging crowd gathered at The Edge Café for the combined Launch of Edgewords Anthology and Oblique Arts Exhibition.

Edgewords Launch 12th January 2018 The Edge Cafe cambridge

Edgewords Launch 12th January 2018 The Edge Cafe cambridge

As I stood beside the Community Fridge, I wondered how many more people could comfortably fit into the room. In nervous anticipation I watched, as more chairs were dragged out from the back room to seat the expanding, buzzing audience. Victor, Munizha, Lisa, Faith, Kate and I (The Edgeworders) were waiting to perform from Edgewords Anthology chapbook. Chapbook is a sixteenth century term for an independently printed pamphlet. In making our 2018 chapbook we participated in the whole process of it’s production: from writing content, through editing and collating, proof-reading and printing, to bookbinding paperback and hardback copies, using traditional hand binding methods.

We started writing back in September last year, our Creative Writing sessions ran on Friday afternoons, and we spent two hours a week in word games, outings to Cherry Hinton Hall and a local bookshop. We played with images, rune cards and even a chess board to ignite our imaginations. Our writing was posted weekly on our blog-page (https://oblique-arts.com/tag/creative-writing-workshops/). We chatted, drank tea, laughed and got to know each other, but mostly we took quiet time to explore, follow and write out our thoughts and inspiration, we wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

By November we had gathered enough material to edit our chapbook, which we then proof-read, printed and bound. Later, preparing for the Launch, Edgeworders worked together at solo performance and in devising collaborative group performances.

Edgeworders at The Maya Pyramid at Cherry Hinton - by Victor-Manuel Ibanez

Edgeworders at The Maya Pyramid at Cherry Hinton – by Victor-Manuel Ibanez

The accompanying Art Exhibition, in deep white frames around the walls, encompassed a range of media – photography, painting, sketching, illustration, bookbinding and collage, work from Oblique Arts visual art workshops in December and January.

For me, the Launch was a thoroughly enjoyable success, and a satisfying culmination of working with inspired and inspiring writers. I hope we can secure funding for future creative writing sessions, and produce an Edgewords 2 Anthology.

I am hoping we Edgeworders will meet again soon
for yet more Wild Encounters.see footnote

Thanks to Bev, Sarah and Jannie of Oblique Arts, Andy and The Edge Café staff, Simon and ASH Coop, and to Cambridge City Council. I mostly want to thank Munizha, Lisa, Victor, Faith, Kate, Jane and all who joined us in the Creative Writing workshops, for the enthusiasm and joy they brought to the project.

Footnote: Wild Encounter is a delicious ruby-red fruit tea served at The Edge Café.

Edgewords Launch running order:
Introductions from Beverley Carpenter, Jannie Brightman and Jean Dark.
Performing Haikus Medley – Group Collaboration Performance.
Mill Road Day by Victor-Manuel Ibaῆez.
Speaking of Smoking by Bella Basura.
Recovery Runes by Faith.
Fiction by Munizha Ahmad-Cooke.
BREAK.
Rainy Hearthfire by Jean Dark.
Gaia by Faith.
The Narrow Escape by Victor-Manuel Ibaῆez.
Ripe by Munizha Ahmad-Cooke (performed with Lisa Evans and Jean Dark).
The Cuckoo by Lisa Evans (Group Collaboration Performance)

 

Jean Dark
Spring 2018

Day 13 – NaPoWriMo

A Calling of The Circle
Part Two

I call to you hot midday
Join this circle of the turning year
Your burnished red light
Climbing the Southern sky
Bringing blazing fire<
Blessed be the Midsummer
Join this circle of the year
In the fiery wand of midday
I call to you in the South
Hail and welcome
At the height of Summer

 

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Clutches of Love

Day 10 of NaPoWriMo

Darling, When I think Of You

Salome
by Pierre et Gilles
Augmented photograph. 1991

Darling, when I think of you…
My skin tingles, hairs rise.
In my dry gummy mouth
I taste a metallic
Taint of terror.
In my mind
I see a red-flare distress beacon
Bloom glaring
In the empty dark sea night sky.
I hear klaxons ringing out
Harmonics of horror.
I smell the sweat of my own fear.
Darling, in truth,
I try not to think of you…
Too often.

 

 

Today I am posting up a poem from my new chapbook – Clutches of Love. I was lucky enough to have Katya Lubarr of the Cat Basket write the introduction, which I was very pleased with. We are hoping to collaborate on a similar chapbook anthology in time for Valetines Day 2019 and we’ll soon be putting a call out for contributions.

But, finally this chapbook of Clutches of Love is finished, and is available to buy print-on-demand from my Esoterranean Books store on Etsy, the chapbook is priced at £5.

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Day 9 – NaPoWriWee

NaPoWriWee

I don’t know if I will make it through NaPoWriMo. I have sorely struggled to write productively daily. At times I wondered why, in light of the fact that I have never called myself a poet and never showed much interest in poetry before, I set myself to write a poem a day for a month. I was maundering about the weather and housecleaning for a couple of days before I realised I needed a plan, a framework to get me through a month without feeling it was pointless. That’s when I decided to use the NaPoWriMo month to research and experiment with poetic forms. I wrote a haiku, then  I chose to make a cut-up of David Bowie lyrics into  a Shakespearean sonnet. I  re-examined earlier experiments with Beat poet Brion Gysin’s Permutation Poems, researched and attempted a Triolet, and I’m planning next week to find out about Kenning poems, a form used throughout the Dark Ages as a semi-sacred form – think Odin losing an eye, hanging on a tree for nine days and nights, in order to gain knowledge of the runes and achieve mastery over language.

So, on the bright side – I may not actually make it through NaPoWriMo, but I have made it through the first week. I’ve done a  NaPoWriWee, and I’m hoping to do another one soon.

Today’s poem is a Haiku, called April, like a reprise of the poem I wrote on the first day.

April
Daffodils clamour, high blue sky,
Yearning equinox,
In the promise of summer.

NaPoWriMo

 

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Day 7 NaPoWriMo

Bella Basura dot com

Yesterday I got a new domain name for my blog/website. I am very excited, I’m sure it will help my SEO profile. Even though I don’t know what that means.
I’m so inspired I wrote an haiku about it.

bella basura dot com
Please note my new domain name
Easy to recall
It’s bella basura dot com

The main reason I did it, apart from the fact that wordpress kept suggesting to me that I did it, was to remove intrusive pop-up ads. So here’s another poem I wrote about it.
This time it’s a triolet.

bella basura dot com
Go to bella basura dot com
For your bella basura needs
Like me! follow! links at bottom
Go to bella basura dot com
See where bella is coming from
Go to bella basura dot com
For all your bella basura needs

Please update your bookmark and send me a message in the comments to let me know.

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Day 6 – NaPoWriMo

Arthur Rimbeau

A Formal Excercise

Research is easy with the internet. When I decided write a poem for NaPoWriMo in the most difficult form I could find, google quickly threw me a TRIOLET. A form popular in the seventeenth century and derived from the form of traditional French folk songs. It is a form considered hard to do well, and prone to doggerel. Arthur Rimbeau was apparently fond of them, although as he only did them in French, so I don’t know how stilted they might be.

Although research is easy on the internet, particularly straight forward things like formal poetic conventions, it is also a minefield of confusions, lies and sheer bullshit.

After ploughing through myriad internet-borne variations of what a TRIOLET is, I cobbled together my own interpretation, a working formula for writing a TRIOLET. Unfortunately by this time my imagination and creativity had been worn thin, and I ended up writing a poem about writing a poem – YAWN!

Here is the definition of TRIOLET that I used in day 6 of NaPoWriMo.
TRIOLET – In it’s English form consists of eight lines of iambic tetrameters,
with a repetitive rhyme scheme   ABaAabAB
The first line being repeated in lines 4 and 7
The second line repeated in the eighth line.
The resultant poem is HERE

Credit – OK Google for the image of Arthur Rimbeau.

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Day 5 of NaPoWriMo

Today, the 5th day of NaPoWriMo, I went back to a poem I first constructed in 1998. 

Taking the Permutation Poems of Brion Gysin as a starting point, a form that is defined simply as listing the random re-arranging of a the words in a four or five word sentence. I was particularly influenced by  his poem Kick That Habit Man. ( written manually in 1959). I actually saw this particular poem performed back in 1982 at The Final Academy in the Brixton Ritzy. That weekend found Brion Gysin performing alongside fellow beat writers William Burroughs, John Gionio, as well as sound artist Z’ev and  Genesis P-Orridge’s nascent Psychic Television.

They were performances that deeply impressed my mind, as a working class 18 year-old who had jumped the train from the home counties to be at this event, it was a peak experience in my development as a writer.

Years later, in 1998 in fact, I coerced a geek-friend into writing a simple computer programme to generate a list of word order permutations of any given four-word phrase.

Suddenly, I could write like Brion Gysin at the touch of a button.

In this context, my programmed poems are connected to a literary formal continuum that first appeared ten years before Gysin named them Permutation Poems. In George Orwell’s 1984, popular proletarian culture is dominated by “sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator” (George Orwell 1984 Part 2 Chapter 4 Secker and Warburg 1949). Later,  J G Ballard in Vermilliion Sands (published in 1971), describes “a world in which verse is churned out to order by a machine, and is measured by its length” (Chris Beckett The Context and Date of Composition of an Abandoned Literary Draft Electronic British Library Journal, Mar 2014). Further, the concept of mechanically derived literature has resonances in current debate around definitions of AI. It seems to me, that Permutation Poems may yet prove to be a dominating form for poetry in the 21st century. 

The most successful of my programmed poems was entitled “F**king”, and is reproduced in full on my NaPoWriMo page here.

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napowrimo Sonnet for David Bowie

My third napowrimo day – and although it’s probably cheating, and certainly blatant plagiarism – I have constructed a sonnet made up entirely from doctored David Bowie lyrics.

Sonnet For David Bowie

So I am pushing through the market square
Where I do see so many mothers crying.
We heard the news that just came over the air
They say we have five years left to die in.
Although last night they loved you and your things,
It is on Am-e-ri-ka’s tortured brow,
Those angels opening doors and pulling some strings
Know that Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow.

But there’s a Starman waiting in the sky
While it has got your mother in a whirl,
There is a Starman waiting in the sky
Not sure if you are a boy or a girl
Run for the shadows in these golden years
Wha wha, gold, wha wha wha, golden years.