Archive for poetry lounge

It’s over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2010 by noelwilliams

Well, it’s March 6th, so “Exploding Poetry” is no more. We’ll be taking it all down on Monday. No more Garden of Stones. No more Speakers. No more Poetry Lounge. The White Space will be filled and the poet no longer have any office.

The last day has been quite fun, a good emblem of the exhibition as a whole: some visits by people I knew, some by people I’d never met before’ a couple of hesitant contributions for the whole, some strong adjectives in praise of the event; people wanting something like it to continue; some bursting balloons; some new poems in the stones; a long conversation about the nature of poetry, the nervousness of poets, the terrors of performance, the need to be honest and authentic.

But the best parts of the day were visits by two young ladies, Leah, who is 7 and Mila who was probably a little younger, just learning to write properly. Both of them did beautiful jobs. Mila gave me a poem with a drawing, the only visitor in the entire exhibition to do so. Leah made a poem in stones, a poem from the words of burst balloons, and a poem from the dice that went on the walls. For someone of her age, the brilliance of her work and the enthusiasm she showed for the task, would be a good model for many a grown-up writer.

It was wonderful to see the work of those two poets. Although I’ve been overwhelmed by success of the exhibition: we’ve had well over 420 visitors, some have returned, many have made a point of giving excellent and flattering feedback, something like 60 to 80 poems have been contributed for it or during it, both the readings I organised were really successful: big, attentive, rewarding and rewarded audiences.

I may never get the chance for anything like this again. Who knows? It has been an incredible month, and a pretty astounding year that’s led up to it. I am very lucky to have had the chance, very pleased at the success, amazed by the opportunities and learning it has given me, and think both my work and my understanding is so much better as a result.

Of course, I still don’t have the published collection which was the aim right at the beginning, but I do  have seventy poems I didn’t have before, and a couple of them have found publication or a prize, so I can’t really complain, can I?

I hope to keep working at Bank Street, perhaps supporting other poets and writers, and perhaps collaborating with other artists there, which I’ve now got a taste for. So perhaps I’ll see you there.


Some new pix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by noelwilliams

I’ve just added some photos from today’s version of the exhibition. It changes daily. Today I’ve added a couple of poems by Yasamin Motamedi, and seen several new poems in the Garden of Stones. The balloons have been revitalised with some new texts, ready for the next heavy footed interactive poets.

More and more poems

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 18, 2010 by noelwilliams

The exhibition had some great visitors today. Between them a new poem was posted to the wall, several little poems appeared amongst the Garden of Stones, the interactive poem developed, and several little poems were created amongst the magnetic poems and toys.

Meanwhile, we’ve been displaying poem after poem. There are forty from contributing poets and more to come, and a wall-full of both well known and less familiar poems from the great poets, past and present. So much to read. So little time.

Also, Alison Fawcett, my friend and an ace photgapher, has just given me some superb shots from the Private View. I’ve created a page to display some of the most interesting.

So it goes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by noelwilliams

The exhibition has settled now into a gentle rhythm. Occasional visitors pass through. Some creep in and creep out, saying little, not doing much. Some are entranced by the poems in the audio room, and spent long periods moving stones around in the garden, or simply sit in the Lounge with a cup of tea and a poetry book.

Here’s me and Cora looking at stones:

And here’s what one visitor did with some of them:

Some great little things have happened, too. Young Dominic (15 months old, I overestimated him before) returned, making straight for the stones, although he quite enjoyed ploughing his pushchair through the balloons, too.

Last time I arrived, I found a paper airplane inscribed “poems can fly”, although this sentiment was clearly too weighty for this particular construct, as it mainly preferred to fall.

And in the middle of the Garden of Stones, a folded paper fan, inscribed “Now I’m a fan”. So, that’s one, at least.

Quite fun. That’s one of the great things about this exhibition. I can’t anticipate what we’re going to get.

Someone has also used the Visitors’ Book to write poems. That’s fantastic, but means no-one will now write in the book, as they’ll think they’re expected to coin original sentiments. So we’ll need a new one. Maybe one for poems and one for comments??

We’ve begun the rehang of the poems in the Lounge, because the overall display was hard to read, and not really inspiring people to write. What I really would like to see is every visitor inspired by what they’ve seen to offer their own contribution, there and then. A few have, and these are now on the chimney breast. We’re also going to take some pages from poetry books and magazines and display these, too, so that the impact is “poetry, poetry, everywhere.”

Meanwhile, fixed the recalcitrant monitor, so all three computers are running as planned.

And work begins on the DVD. Two thirds of the writers and half the readers have given permission to use their work, and only one person decided against it. So planning has started and, with luck, it’ll be out there before the exhibition closes.

A couple of people also suggested that we should publish the poems. I wanted a catalogue of some kind, but don’t want to self-publish my work, and couldn’t really catalogue the work till it was in place. If we produced such a thing, it would probably contain some pieces from the audio work, some from the contributions, and a few of my own, plus images from the various exhibits.

I’d be interested to know what people think: is there enough mileage in this work to document it in a brief (say 32 page) collection/catalogue?

Meanwhile (shameless plug) if you want to read a couple of pieces by me, surrounded by some excellent new writing, you could do worse than Matter, the literary magazine of the MA Writing at Sheffield Hallam. You can check it out in the Lounge and, if you want a copy, contact me, or see:

[Photos taken by Mary Musselwhite]

Text, text, text

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2010 by noelwilliams

I spent most of my day kicking computers and then struggling with words. As it’s an exhibition of poetry, words are moderately important. The central, entrance, space will have five texts in it, sort of poems, sort of descriptions, sort of instructions. Getting these right is quite important. Then there’s labels for exhibits (the Poetry Lounge will have a menu of activities, for example).

Then there’s the digital poems, which are dependent on the underlying women and war poems I’ve written, so could only be worked on properly once the original poems were completed (and handed over for Katherine’s Garden of Stones). But I needed to be sure I had enough computers for what I had in mind and, guess what?

Fortunately, I’ve been given two old computers, so these would do the job, providing they could run the software but: guess what?

So, when my son Taran thought I’d struggled long enough with software I didn’t understand, he fixed the problem, Essentially, he simply has to click his fingers and most computers jump to his bidding. Which meant I later had a happy evening implementing the poems that had been rattling around in my head and my notes. And, of course, discovering that they didn’t quite work as I’d hoped. But that seems they way these things always go.

A trip to Bank Street to show my dear friend, Steven, the exhibition in the making (he can’t make the Private View) had three tasks:

(1) get the brochure to the printer. I did, at 2.00. They shut at 12.00 on Saturdays.

(2) check the re-implemented DVDs on the players and demo to my friend, Steven. The room was locked, and me without a key…..

(3) Check out the computer that had kindly been donated. Yes, computer. Yes, monitor. Yes, monitor cable. Yes, power cable for monitor. And power cable for computer? Er – power cable for computer? Guess what?

Even so, Steven was mightily impressed with his preview of the preview of the Garden of Stones.

So, with less than two days to go, and the digital poems not implemented, and the office not in place, and only two of the four DVDs burned, with none tested, and no labels printed, and the brochure not even at the printers: guess what?

Sudden beautiful progress

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by noelwilliams

I only arrived at Bank St late today. The gallery is transformed. Katherine’s central space is now strung with her bunting, which looks beautiful. The shadows cast are gentle and melancholic. It’s strange to see my words incorporated in someone else’s work, and I can’t stop smiling each time I think of it.

The room awaits my missing texts. Hopefully I’ll be confident enough in them to release them tomorrow. I have produced a small brochure to accompany the private view on Monday, though. Sneak preview here:

Her Garden of Stones is also almost in place, too. About two thirds of my seventy poems are now inscribed, word by word, on stones laid across the floor of one of the galleries. The grey of slate and the silver sheen of the words upon them is a softly dazzling sight in itself, but when you walk amongst them, which you must (especially to inspect the delicacy of her other work in the room) you necessarily disturb the words, and create new paths and connections. It’s like being on a beach, where every other pebble reveals something to you, a word that links with the word next to it, or a puzzle about how such a word might be used in a poem, or a reminder of words you saw elsewhere in the gallery, a visible echo.

And, again, these are my words but not my words. It’s a strange feeling.

It probably won’t matter if the other exhibits fall short, because these pieces are justification enough of the event, I think, and worth your visit if you go for no other reason.  

However, the rest of the work is looking good, too. The Poetry Lounge is already very lounge-like. No poems up as yet, though more have arrived today (we need more, by the way. Inundate us). But the furniture and layout makes it a gentle, somewhat nostalgic room, the sort where you want to spend an idle twenty or thirty minutes outside your hectic day, picking up the odd poetry book, scanning the writings of others on the walls, or, perhaps, as I dearly hope, penning a few words yourself which we can add to the exhibit.

Meanwhile Michael has finished all four of the audio tracks, and it’s up to me to spend the weekend editing the video to them in the best possible way. Which is no mean feat as, by my calculation, a total of at least 480 separate images is needed.

And, finally, there’s the ghost office, the engine room which is intended as the hub of all the ideas, my home when I’m there, as poet in motion, and a space in which half-formed ideas and almost-poems are floating just waiting for visitors to see them and pull them out of the air. At the moment, this entirely consists of two computer monitors. No computers, no desks, no furniture, no exhibits. Just two monitors.

Well, you can’t have everything.

The aim is to have three digital poems writing themselves so that work is taking place with the office creating poetry even when I’m not there. At the moment, though, I’ve only one computer which happily runs the software, so things are looking a little worrying on that front.

Still, three whole days to go……………..

Taking Shape

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 2, 2010 by noelwilliams

At least, things are moving in the right direction. The Poetry Lounge is being painted a soothing shade of green, and the poems for the walls being prepared. Rather than simply stick them on the walls, Ben (curator) intends to treat them as art objects, and present using some rather nice parchment-like paper.

Meanwhile thousands of pieces of slate are being hand washed ready for inscribing for the Garden of Stones, a Herculean task which begins tomorrow. Volunteers have been scrubbing away at slate with smiles on their faces and a song in their hearts.

I’ve managed to locate a monitor for a second computer, but the third seemed problematic until a friend turned up tonight saying he had a machine surplus to requirements. Still needs another monitor – but one step at a time. A colleague has generously given a massice 19 inch CRT to the exhibition, probably because it’s the size of a small horse.

We’ve some attractive furniture on its way for the Lounge, and for the ghost office (still without a proper title) and meanwhile scattering publicity all over the place.

Meanwhile the second channel of the audio work has probably been finalised, so I’m busy editing the stills to it. Sounds good. I think the slower pace we’ve now settled on is a big improvement, but it means the images stay on screen rather longer than they did, and I’m not too happy with that. Some of them do not bear long scrutiny.