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Staff Exercise results

October 1, 2009

I think I may have stumbled upon something here.  Like an old drunk who finds his way home.


I set the Bluecoat staff a little writing exercise to echo the sound of some of Lowry’s poetry. Not only has this been the most responded-to exercise of the ones I have set for the staff – and in the process revealed a little to me about the differing personalities of the team here at the Bluecoat and how they all have a playfulness with words that is a good help when composing poems… but also, it seems that the task itself echoes one of the major themes of the current exhibition at the Bluecoat, and the novel it is based on.

Misunderstandings, mistranslations and mishearings – from the notable example of the mistranslated ‘garden sign’: (“!Evite que sus hijos lo distrujan!”) to instances in the analysis of the accompanying publication by the Bluecoat and Liverpool University Press, these elements seem to me to be central to the (mis)understanding of the artistry and depth of the density of this work.

Anyway, here are the responses in full… (I am pleased with the variety – if archaic – of the vocabulary in these pieces, and the existence of some kind of vaguely similar, sort of bossy, voice throughout)

Staff were asked to rewrite the stanza above theirs, using similar sounding words. I am placing the final stanza above the first – for constrast, to show how the piece developed… [in these brackets, I have also started to translate some of the work into spanish and back again.  This is a kind of scattershot approach, but I think it helps to broaden the range of vocabulary on offer, and starts to unify the piece]…

True, the wreck sings indeed – mending your blister
Sleep wholly, seeping with ticks
Mutated by rod and helmet.

[Truth, the ruin sings entirely in fact – repairing its dream

of the blister, leaking with the signals

Transformed by the bar and the helmet]

[original, by Lowry]
Drunkards of salt water, thirsty for disaster
Derelicts do not dream of being ships:
Never does calamity forsake them.

[Borrachines of salt water, thirsty for the derrelictos

of the disaster does not soñan with being ships:

It never makes leave them to calamity.]
Junkheads pour pot slaughter, thirty more meanders.
Bury this poo, Marina, give us chips:
Paddle dust and carry me lake-ward.

[The heads of the wastes spill the slaughter of pote,

thirty more meanders. It buries this poo, sport port, dénos the shavings:

Dressing gown the dust and lléveme lake-room.]
Bunkbeds or cots oughta dirty our verandas,
Mary, disprove a cleaner woman’s hips,
Dazzle us and marry me naked.

[The beds or the huts of cucheta must dirty to our viewpoints, Maria, to refute a cleaner woman’ the hips of s, dazzle to us and they marry to me naked.]
Trunk is fed, more for your decanters,
Wearily move towards the ships,
Razzle, lusting and completely vacated.
To a watershed, the end for these dissenters
Sleepily upwards slips slips
The thin ocean is never satiated.
Glue the otter’s head, a bend tore this dementor
Creepily tubawear drips drips
A tin of men if ever aviated.
‘Sue’ the potter said, ‘make amends to this inventor’
Cheekily chips chips
Is an omen to be contemplated.
True the other’s dead, condemned to bore his tormentor
Peep wearily cheap tricks
Wish all men could by stipend be sated.
Blue the smothered head, codename Cue Flawed Respirator
Sleep furiously sleep fixed
Bitumen blood eye siphoned. Fee fated.
You the mothered dead, commended law resistor
Deep consciously leap mixed
Bitten good by she elated
Cue the next deed – rendered more sinister.
Deep, lowly, cheap tricks
halted by God and melted.
To the smothered mead, extended your minister.
Seep slowly deep fix,
Written in blood and sheltered.
Phew! the vexing seed – sending your sister
Leap slowly, deepening antics
saluted by pods and dealt it.
True, the wreck sings indeed – mending your blister
Sleep wholly, seeping with ticks
Mutated by rod and helmet.
To be continued, ad infinitum…

Actually, the idea behind this piece also has echoes in some work I am undertaking with Markus Soukup at the moment – and some workshops we will be running with the Alt Valley project. Hmmm!

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