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Staff Poetry

September 8, 2009

2 collaborative poems with Vanessa Bartlett…


Like a shadow burnt on to the floor,

cast in bronze, made solid, artificial;

a hanging cast of his dreadful insides –

like a wedding photograph

there is no-where to hide from the camera.

We are interested in the clean lines of the end of the day

but that does not matter.



This self portrait of the mayor of Lisbon is drawn



Blood hides under flesh and emotion,

but emotion makes me tick.

So, thirsty, I hang the curator

and the artist too.

This is my perfect photograph.

It is the photograph that natural light has loaned to us

in the bright, quiet, library of shadows.


Excellent session with Vanessa Bartlett yesterday, she is Arts Programme Assistant here at the Bluecoat – and as with most people that work in the arts, she is also an artist and arts writer of considerable ambition.


We started off a discussion with asking what we envisage a member of staff at the Bluecoat getting out of a greater understanding of poetry reading and writing.

My answer

– increasing the ‘creative life’ of the building

– increasing collaboration and communication between artists and staff

– developing new ways to understand and process opinions and impressions of artwork at the Bluecoat


– develop new Critical Perspectives

– less nervousness with language

– refresh view-points

– be a bit playful

(we spoke about Kurt Schwitters sound poetry at this point.  So often DaDa is people’s entry-point to poetry! I love it too.)

You can see Vanessa’s blog here.  A new post she was considering writing is about 3 self portraits.  One by Damien Hurst, one by Francesca Woodman and ones by Andy Warhol.  We used a discussion to develop some ideas around why she liked these portraits, and self portraits as a whole, then wrote a couple of collaborative poems imagining our ideal self portraits


I think these are fine poems for an hour in the pub!


Other interesting things that came up, and are present in a way in these poems are:

– the necessary collaboration with unpredicatable light in photography: light ‘giving’ you that moment as a picture, because it is so perfect

– the enjoyment of work that is of such a SCALE that people can’t ignore it

– the phrase ‘it says something about my life’


We also spoke about attitudes and ideas around ‘Home’.  I’m going to dig some poems out about this and post them on here – they relate to a performance I am working on with Karen McLeod for the Emergency Festival at the Green Room.  Hopefully we will also get a chance to show the piece at the Bluecoat.

O, here is one of the poems I use when I am thinking about home and family:




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