As you might have noticed from our recent posts next Saturday we are hosting another holy night of fantastical poetic debauchery at the Stroud Valley’s Artspace. As well as art splattered walls, musical musings and readings from (almost all) members of the NN collective, we have also invited a couple of local guest poets to grace us with their words, the first of which will be the superb Samuel Merriman Smart. Here is one of Sam’s poems to whet your appetites:
I sit at a South-facing window with no sun.
I favour this room, and despite
this absence of light,
shoots sprout out of the sofa.
Amongst dust from the incense
monocots mount the shelves
and our shoulders.
Those who visit, stay until
I am bored and their blossom
burgeon no more.
Pilgrims appease, traipsing
in the soil of our Saints on their boots.
On a recent visit to rad radical bookstore Bookmarks I picked up this:
The Flesh of the Bear is a Bilingual Anthology. A bunch of poets from Teesside in the north of England and a bunch of poets from Turku and Tampere in the South of Finland did a poetry exchange project and wrote a collection of poetry and translated that collection of poetry and placed both the original and the translation alongside each other in this wonderful poetry collection THE FLESH OF THE BEAR. I love the idea of a poetry exchange project. If anybody wants to do a poetry exchange project with Neutral Norway definitely get in touch. I was stoked to find this collection because poetry translations which print translations next to originals are my favourite poetry collections. My favourite favourite is Michael Hamburger whose poetry is lovely to read in German even though I don’t speak German. Reading poetry in a language you don’t understand for me is integral to why and how I write and read poetry: as something which exposes the arbitrary meaning of wordsthingslifeeverything. The question YEAH BUT I DON’T GET IT WHAT DOES IT MEAN is the one which crops up way too much with regards to poetry; it works as a barrier, it stops people enjoying poetry because we live in a world so obsessed with meaning. If we don’t understand then we are lost and we give up; we don’t like being lost. Being lost means you are on a pointless place on the map, you are mapless, you are pointless, I think a lot of people think poetry is pointless. I don’t. I think poetry can be used a way to relax meaning, to relax into meaning, to not cling to meaning but to melt around it, to expose it as arbitrary by playing with it. Reading a poem in a language you don’t understand is still reading a poem. The Finnish translations by the Baltic Exchange Project uses a different (i.e. the Finnish) alphabet so I don’t even know how the words sound, as such the poems become concrete for me, pictures of the poem opposite, translations and illustrations. I am always on the lookout for poetry collections with the translations in. They are my favourite type of poetry collections.
Here is a poem by Exchange Project contributer Henry Lehtonen whose stuff (which I read in English and looked deep and long into the eyes of) is fucking great, it’s all so great that I don’t know which one to choose so I’m going to choose this one and urge you to look him up. IT has no title:
I draw an ideal of a naked woman
on the back of my exercise book:
infantile breasts, nipples the size
of a fist, and the aureoles,
a big bottom,
fuzzy, black hair
between the legs.
The teacher came up to me
to see if I’d calculated correctly.
She noticed what I’d been up to,
I had drawn
arrows to point out
the most critical places.
She broke down,
told me to get in the hall.
There was already two other guys.
We played hockey with the pointers
and a roll of masking tape.
We had an argument, a fight at the break.
I don’t think he hit me once,
but I was bawling in front of the headmasters room
I got detention,
I had to do my math homework,
and I was still crying,
I called my teacher my mom,
Cunting up sexts//exploring space and texting in a project with hannah levene. Body as Text and Body as Text (SMS) cumming soon
Cut-up-and-broken-hearted working on a collection of cut-ups in collaboration with deva work in progress.
NEUTRAL NORWAY AT THE SVA, STROUD, 14TH DECEMBER 2013
It’s the abstraction of pain into the world
And then the fear to speak That changes the bowl of bright flowers Into a misery - the room to a chamber - And the hands of the lover into grasping hooks I beat myself with silence into silence. Freedom is to speak. And I fear to form What is air and may be made in a minute.
A friend gave me Bawdy & Soul a few years back and I think it remains my most favoured book for its cover: the author nude but for a bouffant and a guitar:
a few dirty limericks by Barbara:
The new cinematic emporium
Is not just a super sensorium
But a highly effectual
There once was an artist, Pierre
Who was really a cubist with flair.
He looked all his life
To find him a wife
Possessing a hole that was square.
My back aches, my pussy is sore;
I simply can’t fuck anymore;
I’m covered with sweat
And you haven’t come yet
And my God! It’s quarter to four!
What follows is a cut-up poem inspired by reading about Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt-up’s (click on links in below post to find out more). It used to be a blog post about hiding sanitary towels in hobbycraft. Now it’s a poem called:
a tester pot is enough - and most come with a brush inside
one after the other.
a little box to hold myself
Take your box
(I got mine)
and unscrew all of the fixtures.
Take both halves outside
(or where you don’t mind making dust)
and Blow off
Lay on a sheet of old newspaper that is made to cope
gravity will hold it,
and it can then be changed
Both of our toilets are separate
a smooth, solid surface of
I positioned mine in between
the screw holes of the clasp,
so the end would Stretch across the top
to the back
and under the rim
rough showing through
the hinges and the clasp
and dent the wood.
belts around them
or leather-look ribbon.
into the bottom of the box,
You fill with your purpose
and your ladies
I chose to keep mine
plain and simple
with no outside;
I’d like to try and avoid the temptation
for any men to have a nose inside
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2013/11/from-cut-up-to-cunt-up-dodie-bellamy-in-conversation/ read this wonderful interview with Dodie Bellamy about her cunt-ups and about this http://www.lesfigues.com/book/cunt-norton/ you’ll enjoy it
In effect, poetic language is the recovery of the maternal body within the terms of languageg, one that has the potential to disrupt, subvert, and displace the paternal law
Lines by the cash register
Four five long
The money’s just paper and metal
Next in line
Wakes up his eyes
His eyes still hazy from the dew
Inside the window
Monkey move freely in between shops
Stuttering and blithering
Winter is the fogged breath of mankind
Giving Monkey another chance.
Live out this one
Live out this one
In France they pay their musicians.
In England they die.