Public Poetry

I’m lucky enough to have two poems on public display at the moment.  Both of them were developed during workshops run by Pascale Petit.  If you get the chance to work with her, DSCF0581do: as a poet, artist and teacher, she’s adept at unlocking the imagination, using stimuli and research from a wide range of sources and – as you might expect of someone who makes art as well as poems, developing sensory awareness.  Here I am, standing delightedly next to Dorothea Tanning’s ‘Some Roses and Their Phantoms’ at Tate Modern.

And here’s the poem, which can also be found in my first pamphlet, Relinquish(2007), from Arrowhead Press.DSCF0583  That pamphlet, and the way I wrote then, seems a long time ago – what is it with that oracular tone?!

The poem has a sister, carved into a paving slab at Walthamstow Central Station.  That’s Pascale’s doing again: she was commissioned to work with residents of Waltham Forest to develop creative work that was rooted in the environment around their homes and the local area.  You might think the poems are all suburban sprawl and nail bars – but Walthamstow also has a surprising amount of green, not least the marshes.

Looking at ‘Sleeper’ now, I think it could do with being broken up into couplets.  Why didn’t I think of it at the time, since it’s about train tracks?  And it feels crammed, too: some paringDSCF0244 back, and letting a bit of space into the text would’ve been good.  But I’m pleased that ‘The Rose to Her Phantoms’ on the South Bank has her sister in north east London.  I tried to echo the earlier poem by using similar constructions and vocabulary, so that, like sisters, both are at once their own selves and recognizably similar.  I love the fact that I can visit them any time I want.  There they are; tangible records of my earlier work.

If I had the chance to write a poem for a paving slab now, I’m not sure what it would look like, but I know it wouldn’t look like this.  It wouldn’t use the ‘I’ so emphatically for a start. So there it is – there they are, the sisters – irrefutable reminders that I am making progress, I am developing as a writer.   And on that note, back to the PhD.  September looms….

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2 thoughts on “Public Poetry

  1. This is so exciting, Meryl. So good to have something tangible when so much of our creative processes remains unseen, even by us. A visit to view the ‘sisters’ will be top of my list next time I’m in London.

    1. Thank you, how lovely to get encouragement from a fellow writer! It’s kind of exciting, too, how ‘Sleeper’ changes daily with each bit of chewing gum and ciggy butt, feet walking over her, rain and dirt eroding her…. appropriate for the subject matter, definitely, and a good lesson in not being too precious about one’s writing.

      Perhaps you could paste a link to your blog and/or to any work we can access online? It’d be great to see some.

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