A while ago I took part in a poetry writing workshops as part of the project “Order, Chaos and Chronic Illness”. They are putting together an anothology of some of the pieces written in the workshops and have approached me to ask if they can include two of my poems:
I have not climbed Mount Everest
But I have reached the peak of Pen-y-Ghent
My own, overwhelming challenge
The same aches in my painful joints
The same sense of achievement
And once in a lifetime-ness
Accident and emergency at York Hospital
No one helping
Hospital induced panic
From a seat, next to her bed
We pass an iPad between us
Her morphine mind grappling
With scrabble words, scrambled words
One room, four patients
Me, the only visitor
Loneliness cast over the elderly woman
The nurses say they were unable to reach her children
Clatter of life outside rattles into the ward
Her phone alerts her to a friend’s concern
Ours are the only voices
Disrupting the cacophony of A&E
Later, I hear how the laughter has brightened
Her roommates’ day and how lovely my sister is
She’s always been a charmer
Even from her hospital bed
Gulls sing sea shanties
Above landlocked towns. Their cries
Today’s prompt from Write Alm is Olivine. It’s a nice word to roll around your tongue but I didn’t know what it meant. It felt like it should be describing a peaceful, fulfilled emotional state – “she looked olivine as she gazed out to sea”. It’s actually a series of mineral, one of the earth’s most common in fact. It is generally olive green in colour, hence the name. In it’s gemstone form, as peridot, it was used a lot in Egyptian jewellery and is sometimes called evening emerald.
Green eyes shimmering
Across the room with secrets;
If you don’t follow me on twitter you probably don’t know that I’m using my fortnightly psych nurse appointments to replenish their magazines. I was rather disappointed when I went for my assessment to find a pile of gossip magazines which bully celebrities, create unrealistic images and include unhealthy diet plans.
So after my initial moment of anger and what the fuck, I realised that I can do something about this. So every session I have I’ve been taking a magazine that I’ve finished reading. So far I’ve added Libertine, Oh Comely, New Internationalist, Diva and Wildlife. In addition to the eating disorder clinic I’ve also been leaving magazines in my GP surgery. It’s been really nice going back and finding the magazines I’ve left on the top of the pile!
I’ve also emailed the magazines to let them know and to get them to encourage readers to do the same. One of them was Wildlife magazine and the editor got back to me within minutes to let me know how great he thought that was. He also asked what I liked best about it and I mentioned the photos and how even if you’re not up to reading, it’s nice to look at and how I’d taken my sister a copy when she was in hospital so she could look at the pictures. He emailed me back today to say he’d love to send her a copy of the next issue! How lovely is that?! I have to say, I was a bit overwhelmed!
I would love it if more people across the country started doing it – wouldn’t it be awesome to sit down in a waiting room and pick up a fab, inspiring magazine that you might never have looked at before?
I went to a writing workshop on Saturday. It was interesting and is a monthly thing so I’ll probably go back. It was just a few group exercises and discussions but it meant that there was time in my life carved out for writing.
The main exercise we did was writing a sentence then passing it on for the next person to write the next sentence and so on. At various points we were given prompts like add a twist, incorporate a building and then finish the story in one sentence. It was really good for starting to get you writing and as a reminder that you can write sentence by sentence, you don’t sit down and write an entire epic novel at once. Also, at one point poor handwriting meant that stories transformed into stones and completely turned the plot on it’s head! After the exercise we came up with our top five tips for writing:
- Embrace mistakes and unforseen directions
- Maintain conflict
- Details matter, use them to create an atmosphere
- Go with the flow, be creative rather than logical – one day you’re the writer, one day you’re the editor, you can’t be both at once
- Take it one sentence at a time
I think it’d be interesting to try the sentence by sentence collaboration online if anyone’s interested?
Over the cracks in her skin
With needle and thread
The second York Festival of Ideas event I went to was Seeing Order in Chaos: Randomness and chance in art:
Randomness and chance seem to play an important role in art, particularly painting and drawing. An oil painting, when looked at closely, appears to be nothing but a random collection of coloured marks, but these resolve themselves into an image as we move away from the painting. It is this very randomness which sometimes gives the painting life and distinguishes it from a photograph, though the random element may not be visible to the viewer.
The artist achieves this by clever brushwork or by starting with a random pattern and them seeing the image in the chaos of marks, a method actually recommended by Leonardo da Vinci. Some of the best examples of this are from early cave art where the artist has seen the image, for example a horse, in the cracks and stains of the rock and then simply emphasised them. Another source of randomness is the so-called happy accident, where a slip of the brush produces a random but interesting mark.
In this illustrated talk, artists and mathematician, Malcolm Ludvigsen, will discuss the random and chaotic element in art from the point of view of both a scientist and a painter. In particular we shall take a sceptical look at the possible use of the concept of entropy in art, and whether fractals and so-called chaos theory can play useful and meaningful role.
Being a mathematician, this talk had a lot of interesting aspects and really got my head sparking with ideas. Hopefully when I start to recover my brain and with it my ability to think, understand and be more creative, I’ll be able to turn these sparks into something tangible.