Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Peace (the 100th heart) film

Keith Turner has made a lovely film of the installation, with his video and recording of me performing the poem at Nottingham Peace Fair 2014. l wish l’d fitted in some more rehearsing, you can hear me relax about 10 lines in – that’s a Suffolk accent that starts to come out 😉

Thanks again for all your support, Keith!


Peace: The Hundredth Heart


I have been working intensively on my fibre art  installation for Peace Week in Nottingham…due to illness and a hold up with the wooden plaques, I’ve been having to work faster than I like/is good for me. [wow, I’m getting the hang of pacing, I actually expressed that right first time round, previously I would enjoy working this fast, however tiring, that’s progress!]


One side effect this has had is on being able to name it, the name finally became clear on Tuesday, and it has been installed today – Saturday…oh my!Still, better late than never. It has been ‘the peace thing’, Peace Has Wings, and now Peace, the Hundredth Heart.

I have copied ‘peace’ in 99 languages, including many different scripts/alphabets… it condenses down to 87 plaques due to some languages sharing the same word. I thought, shall I look up a one hundredth? and then it came to me, what we need is not all these words, spoken or thought or prayed, valuable as all those are, but a feeling in the heart that can be shared across nations and cultures and scripts and alphabets…we need to ALL have the hundredth heart, where peace is felt and breathed and lived and held dear, not a cerebral thing, to be discussed and negotiated, good as those things are, but felt, beyond words…and art is non verbal communication, intuitive philosophy, so how better to say this?



The Hundredth Heart

I have written peace 99 times

to 99 people all around the world – or who live next door 😉

sometimes in scripts I had to draw,

tongue sticking out with concentration,

ink dancing in flamboyant swirls,

and I ask you to meet me here,

you, the 100th heart

who needs no word, who knows how to

live, love, dance, cook, teach, nurse, grow peace

reach peace, share peace, laugh and sing and draw and paint and sculpt


from the very sticky clay

that is our messy world

I ask you to meet me here,

you, the 100th heart

who needs no words, who knows

how to lay down difference and to work together

to not need to be right and to not need every last thing spelt out

but to start in

here and now

in the moment of power

in the moment of change

where we are all human

and can use the silver bridge of understanding

that being human on a blue and green planet gives us,

now we see how grey and brown and dry and dead

we are making it…

I ask you to meet me here,

you, the 100th heart

who needs no words, who is

finding a place in the middle

where we can agree not to poison the river,

not to strip the hills till they fall into the sea,

not to spray the fields till they are silent and poisoned,

not to mine and frack the earth up, till it swallows itself

and takes us with it

You, the hundredth heart that knows we can all stand on that silver bridge,

that without us, the words will be there, but empty

peace needs the hundredth hearts

to live, love, dance, cook, teach, nurse, grow peace

reach peace, share peace, laugh and sing and draw and paint and sculpt


from the very sticky clay

that is our messy world

to grow peace in the sticky clay of our hearts, where we

get hooked in to petty troubles and wanting the things pushed on us by

a greed making world of money and politics

that has forgotten the

blue and green planet

the stars in the night sky

the silver bridge

we need the hundredth hearts who reach out

and with their smile

make us know

how simple peace can be

where it starts

without words

the hundredth hearts



And so the last string of plaques have little heart shaped mirrors…

The installation went really well, I had support from Sam and tree climbing from Tom, who knows Jen and Bob, my usual tree monkeys… Three hours of quiet and therapeutic play really!

I will try and get better pictures tomorrow, my hands were a bit shaky by the end…and I need to look up fig trees in myth, Sea Change is hung on the biggest fig tree I’ve ever seen!



















Working at making it work


The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

(found on the super excellent a feast for eyes and mind!)

Sometimes making has huge momentum and everything runs like it’s on rails. Other times I have 6 projects out and feel out of sorts and grumpy and like I’m wasting time, but keep playing computer puzzles because I can’t see what comes next. I’ve just had to tidy up for the homehelp coming to clean, and it is sooo lovely to have a tidy space again. I have visitors tomorrow, so it will stay this way for 24 hours. 😉 And it will be interesting to see which project comes out!

The choices are:

Fixers banner: ‘Bring it’ section

Zero Waste: hula hoop rug

Quaker stitching: pulling fabric for social justice applique tablecloths and designing/tracing motifs

complex cloth: next sample, all hand sewing

cradle for stones: playing with raffia and bundles in ‘geodes’

whispering wall: continuing the freeform crochet/knitting lines and loops I’ve been working on

homemaking: making curtains for the small windows from the big chunks left after I extended the main curtains

dressmaking: finish the winter kaftan top I started ages ago

All of these are worth doing 😉 and some are exciting, but none totally grab me, though I was enjoying knitting as adventure and all the pretties gathered for whispering wall

I suspect the indecision is partly because we are due galeforce winds, and I hate high winds with a passion, I get like a spooked cat, all jittery and restless; but also because I am needing to process the new levels of friction in my life. I think the austerity in Britain is really getting people down and the blame-the-benefit scroungers propaganda has been really getting horrible. (0.2% lost spending as opposed to tax evaders 10- 14% lost revenue for the Government, but never let the truth get in the your way, Mr Duncan Smith.) I notice that the bus drivers always have to be asked to ‘drop’ the bus for my rollator now, at first I didn’t mind if sometimes they didn’t, but now I know the level of pain and damage to my shoulders and collarbone lifting the rollator up 3-12 inches (8- 30cm) and sometimes as much away from the curb/kerb does to me, I’m trying to be friendly but firm. And even when you ask they are making a big deal of it, like anyone with mobility issues is asking too much.

Yesterday I had to stand because an ablebodied, non-pregnant (as far as I could tell) young woman wouldn’t move OUT of the wheelchair bay to seats at the middle or back of the bus. In the end someone got off, so I sat opposite her and stared really hard at her, I felt sooo angry at her sense of entitlement, sitting with 5 large bags of fashion shopping ( judgement call, read FRIVOLOUS!) and using her brand new iPhone…and then I thought, well, she isn’t happy…and I don’t know whether she is in fact on her way home before chemotherapy starts and in fact, I should just get over myself, and be aware glowering at her is neither appropriate nor effective 😉


What is going on? I think everyone is feeling short-changed, people on benefits are committing suicide like never before (ATOS deaths are over 1300 I read somewhere, check Welfare News for stats); people at work but badly paid are relying on food banks; middle rate earners are worried about keeping their jobs and paying off their negative house equity; high rate earners can see that the Conservatives have lost the plot and when Labour get in there will be a reckoning for the tax evaders, meanwhile they try and stash as much as they can overseas etc., No one is happy at how the austerity is being handled, whether they think the markets are recovering or not. The bankers must know they missed being properly penalised and some day that will catch up with them, whether by reversion of assets or society descending further into misery and them all being obvious targets for crime…but whatever the position someone is in, no one gets to be really happy, because if you have a conscience, then so much upsetting stuff is happening and if you don’t, everyone else is so negative…


And this brings me back to what motivates me as an artist/maker: art is non-verbal philosophy advocating (in my case) positive change, a return to harmonious coexistence, to the acceptance of a shared planet and responsibilities. The two pieces I am working on are very much about surviving violence and emotional and sexual abuse. Thinking this through now, when I see so much financial abuse wrecking people’s experience of life, I feel I am making this too narrow. All abuse is really bad. To be honest, my parents’ choice to crush my determination to be an artist was just as damaging as being thrown down the stairs. I still get scared on stairs, I still get crushing fears to do with being an artist, but depriving me of my lodestone made me a lost person for years. Once I had art as my true north, nothing was ever as bad again. I am still in recovery from a lot of the abuse because that stuff is in your core self and damaged body parts become more troublesome as you get older. Against this, I have the strength of making, of knowing I am making my life work my way, with my skills in place, and at my service. I have a lot to share with all survivors, on the possibility of coming back and thriving. (Yes, I have it hard, I have fibromyalgia with a ton of pain and limited mobility and I have memories most people can’t survive, but I am here, I am making, I still find joy in the world around me, I share that joy and THAT is thriving when you come from my starting point.) So, when the biggest problem I see is that divide and rule is working so well for stopping people uniting against the awful mess the bankers and pigs-at-the-trough politicians have us in, perhaps I want to become a shade more abstract again and be clear I mean any and all survivors of abuse who are standing for a better world for all of us, and who really mean “we’re all in it together”. (Tory slogan used with withering irony, for friends across the sea!)


Because we are, the Tories just don’t realize that making the under classes so desperate is going to backfire, and it’s going to be a hard enough world with climate change and peak oil without social breakdown and the loss of the National Health Service etc. The current Government are going to be written down as such short sighted fools. We all need to WORK at MAKING IT WORK. So, the American Government can just start itself up and enact its duly passed laws (will the GOP just get over themselves please, they are NOT above the law) and the Brits can just dig down and remember this will pass and it will pass quicker and easier if the bootboys stop kicking people when they’re down.

Now how do I put that in an installation? And can I make it sing?

Jack Kerouac on creativity

Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

by Jack Kerouac

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house

4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumb saint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language &knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

– via Blues for Peace (and quoted on CALM THINGS, an excellent photography/thoughts/still life blog)

How to be “a crazy dumb saint of the mind”?

Is it to think outside the box, with passion and devotion to what is your own truth, comes from your own integrity, whatever the cost? To follow what I call rigorous intuitive practice (as opposed to intellectual/academic practice) and let your hands and eyes be in charge, not your brain?

To be a violet flowering in October?

Because it can?


Hollie McNish: the best poet of the streets since Benjamin Zephaniah?

A friend sent me a link to Hollie McNish on you tube, and I was stunned: she is the best poet I’ve heard perform for ages! I went to a lot of performance poetry events with Andy (Andy Postman, my missed by many super funny/ out there surreal/zany poet and artist husband) and I have seen some very good poets, call outs to Mark Gwynne Jones and Dave ‘Stickman’ Higgins, local stars Sue Allen and Michelle ‘Mother’ Hubbard, and the nationally acclaimed, truly amazing uncrowned poet laureate Benjamin Zephaniah (the ‘Naked’ album is outstanding…)

So this accolade is not given lightly.

She is human, witty, politically aware in a very “personal is political” way about the underpinnings of the system, but, as she says in ‘Mathematics’ she has done her research, she has found out for herself, she has checked her sources. Like Zephaniah she is on the side of life, the overflowing cornucopia of  delight it can be, that is imperilled by thoughtlessness and greed. Like him, she knows WE have the power to change the unquestioned into the unthinkable. She engages us, and leaves us wanting more – I’ve checked with friends and I am far from the only one to repeat play immediately, with a “wow, that was good!”

She appeals to the part of everyone who knows what is fair, but may have been gaslighted (manipulated) into silence or denial, shouted down or isolated to the point of self doubt. She knows when to be positive and affirming; we must protect the wild places, honour the mothers doing the best for their babies, stand up for our right to be ourselves…

She is an original thinker, with fresh imagery and an ability to set out clearly the issues that may have been niggling at the back of our own minds – the school uniform fetish has always set my teeth on edge and I’ve been able to articulate why quite easily. The cloying cutesy cupcakes/vintage housewifey thing has annoyed me ever since it came in, but I assumed it was an age thing that these girls/women had no idea how much physical hardwork and brain numbingly boring real housewifery was in the 50s, whereas I could remember my aunt talking about getting her first hoover: in a pit village, dusting and sweeping was a twice a day job and depressingly pointless. Hollie joins the dots and holds up an image that makes me shocked, yes, little girls playing house are little girls with no power and could be depressingly easy targets for the predators waiting to pounce, but more importantly they are women missing out on their own lives. They are missing the now, the only place where we have power to respond to what happens in our life, to set aside the endless daily lists to make the memories that will sustain us, and if we are caring/parenting, making happiness for others too. No one at my memorial will stand up and say I was always on top of the dusting (friends rock with laughter at the very thought!!) but they will remember fruit smoothies in the garden with laughter as we made bunting to cheer up a friend moving to a new city, they will remember calls to say, the chestnuts are ready, fancy a bike ride? Paints and fabrics at the ready, seeds and trowels, and yes funky food….though pesto scones, 20 ingredient salads and lemon and marzipan cookies are what happened this week, not cupcakes, and duster, no, fraid not  😉
She breaks down the barriers of political thinking that run on rails, with no room for manoeuvres… if ever there was a time when we needed fresh, heartfelt thinking, humane values and clearheadedness, this is it. And the best news: she is young, all being well we have years ahead of us of her work, her questioning eye and clear voice calling society out and inspiring us to find a better way. Viva Hollie!

because i am that woman

because i came in today

and saw that The Guardian thinks it is ok to frame a discussion of

International Women’s Day

around the right to wear a skirt

and I am really


when there is still topless page 3

and women are still called names in the street

and ‘asking for it’


being violent attack, stitches and broken bones and maybe death

when maybe

going home

is more dangerous than walking the streets

and women earn less than men

and women get less pension if they stayed at home to raise their kids

but are to blame for the kids running riot

if they don’t

and women are not to have abortions

but not to need contraception or childcare

but not to stay home and look after their children or their parents or their partners

didn’t that just go in a circle?

and women are bitches who nag

or whores who seduce

or acting like your mother, your teacher, your nurse

anyone except someone

who has been raised to ask

quietly and confidently

for what they want

and notice what they are offered

and calmly negotiate what works

round men

who have been told they are weak if they listen to a woman

hen-pecked or led by the nose

(the nose standing as we know for something else)

because men are told they will be judged on their sexual prowess, their fertility,

and their control of their woman, their family

and they are supposed to swagger more,

to get their respect, to get their due

they are supposed to demand more, to threaten, to fight, to die,


except asking,

like someone who has been raised to ask

quietly and confidently

for what they want,

notice what they are offered and negotiate what works

as women and men are forced out of the old ways


ways that are not new

didn’t that just go in a circle?

and all the time the sandpaper on open wounds

the grit in the works

the whipping up of anger and blame between the powerless

stops the coming together of people

to work together, to become powerful,

to ask calmly for systems of government that respect our work,

our efforts, our contributions

and share benefits between all,

not give profits to a few who have forgotten they are human

or maybe, actually, aren’t human, but are corp-orations,

embodi-ments of economic power;

to notice what we are offered

and negotiate for what works

for the greatest number, not the super rich 1% or the landed 10%

or the inhuman business model

but a planet full of people who would have plenty

if we shared

because i am that woman

who wants to yell: STOP!

we are not each other’s enemies

we are picking up the pieces after a cocoon got ripped,

a mountain broke and a glacier melted and the world flooded

and the foragers ran out of game

and the wandering life of bounty


changed utterly

to a life of growing and grinding

and where people had been  different but the same,

strong in arms or strong in legs or strong in wits or strong in memory,

and not everyone could survive but there was no malice;

to a world where ownership of more than the tools in your hands became possible

where land became what you fought for, not what ran over it, water or game or green vines

but the land itself

and taking land is stealing from everyone, because so little is left

and as we build closer and closer and crowd like rats

we turn and fight and bite

and forget

we are family

we all have genes of people who ran the savannah

and watched the prairie grass ripple like waves

and some of us sang when the sun tipped the stone to say

spring is coming

and we knew

we knew to our bones

that we needed each other

not just the family, not just the clan

but the far peoples we never met

but who sent their spices

and to whom we sent our flints

and we all carved bones and we all told stories

and we all protected a pregnant woman, we all protected a child

we loved the boys, we loved the girls

we loved the both-ways as the new shaman-to-be

because i am that woman who feels the earth turning

and the clouds gathering

and because my hair is turning grey and i am entering awareness of wisdom

by simply living that long and surviving  so much

and i have seen such strangeness

not much shocks me

but a lot saddens me

and then i see

The Guardian wants to talk about skirts

on International Women’s Day


i am ANGRY

the duty of the artist

                         Susan Stefanic:

It is the duty of the artist to resist

It is the duty of the artist to reject all truths

To put an end to all answers

To demolish the status quo

To expose the king’s nakedness

To ignore the facts

To fall in love as often as possible

To be in love with as many as possible simultaneously

To see through walls

To walk through fire

To fly over the crevasse

To bring inspiration to the isolated doubting angel

To dive into intuition

To abandon all solutions

To create  the ultimate vision

– I don’t identify with every line of this, but some ring so true! A therapist once asked me what archetype I identified with and I immediately said the child who sees the emperor has no clothes 😉

I believe very strongly in rigorous intuitive process for an authentic practice, to trust the flow and find the true line/colour/shape that tells you it is as it should be and to find what comes next…very close to abstract expressionism (think Jackson Pollock or even better Mark Tobey – Sagittarius Red is one of my favourite paintings of all time) and I also believe that creating spaces for people to relax and be creative is a radical act – bread AND roses – because it undoes the work of  global consumerist industries.  These rely on people being sheep following the bellwether – buy an i-whatever/buy laminate flooring and blinds even when that will triple your heating bills/buy an HD tv/ buy a bigger car/buy whenever and whatever the ads tell you will fill the gap in your life…and the most direct way to disable that is to facilitate people experiencing connection to their authentic self, to their space in the world, to see that they are rarely as powerless as the powers that be would like, that every small act of beauty without unfair consumption makes a lasting happiness that builds reserves of empowerment and compassion. Then the offerings of  capitalism/consumerism become insultingly shallow – who needs to pay £200+ for a pair of shoes you can’t walk in? clothes you can’t be comfortable in? Why would an object that simply transmits other people’s experiences, real or faked, be an addictive substitute for real live creativity, cooking, gardening, art and crafts, music and poetry, theatre and story telling, sports, dance, circus skills and martial arts? Making art wakes you from the trance, breaks the cycle of purchasing to blot out despair at the state of your life or the world. So the duty of the artist is to wake the sleeping princess and kiss some frogs to snap people back into their true authentic, empowered selves. The personal is political, and understanding who and how you are returns you to the human race, so there is no “away” to throw things to, there is no one else you can ask to meet your needs without meeting theirs, a fair price for good work, made without danger to people’s self worth as well as their well being, without draining the resources of those to come or damaging the planet that is not ours to mess up.

Any and all well made art will do this, as long as it is made in integrity, made because this is what needs to come next. That it is possible to make choices and make a difference creates a ripple effect, and non verbal art can reach across language barriers, the beat of the drum brings you to the dance, where you learn to trust your feelings and be playful and feel your heartbeat and be whole, needing nothing but the moment of not buying joy, but being  joy…