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.
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 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.


Clutches of Love

The Skull Collection



Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here

Follow Bella Basura on:

Bella Basura Live in March

Two performances for Bella Basura coming up this month…

Scarecrow Corner Springtime Benefit Gig, Cambridge
At The Devonshire Arms, 19th MarchScarecrow Corner S[ringtime Benefit Gig

Poetic Springs Bury St Edmunds

Poetic Springs, Bury St Edmunds
Anselm Community Centre, 23rd March

Limited copies of The Short Answer chapbook will be on sale at both events.

Granny gets Shortlisted!

Liminal Phases flyer.JPG

Back in February I took part in Liminal Phases, a Temporary Temple Productions spoken word performance event with Jonny Marvel, Shakeynavelbones and Faradina Affifi  at CB1 cyber café in Cambridge. One of my pieces, Granny Takes a Trip – billed as a psychedelic puppet show, was  entered for the Soundwork 2015 monologue competition in September  and although it didn’t come first Granny was shortlisted. See here. The winning entry was recorded by Soundwork  so I’m pretty sad that I didn’t win. I guess I’ll need to find another  way, maybe recording the piece myself. Any ideas?