Friday, October 29, 2010

What happened to solidarity and protest?

We've been working again with Inkstorm, thinking about what happened on Culture Night and what the event produced, for the poets, for the public and for us.  It was a pilot study for both of us to get a sense of how people reacted to the concept and to see what kinds of poems and subjects poeple asked for.
Our main question since has been what can we do with this?  We've looked around and noticed frustrations at the lack of reaction to an economic crises that's affecting us all.  For example, a seventy-five year old neighbour asked me the other day, why didn't people stand outside the courthouse in solidarity when the lorry driver who drove his cement mixer into government buildings was being sentenced.  She was so frustrated at the lack of solidarity and protest.  If we are to propose a public intervention, a socially situated art project, is there a place for us to engage in protest?
We're currently playing with a proposal that places itself in the lineage of written and spoken art forms such as Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, from Latin America, which uses audiences reflection and transformation of scenarios to provoke reflection on social conditions; the speeches and communiques of the Mexican social movement Zapatismo, which invokes the power of the word to connect peoples experiences, and the South African praise poet, the Griot, whose sharp eye and voice is trained on their national leaders.
A Poetry Depot for protest....?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Poets Perspective

The poetry depot in the Milk Market started, for me, with a little boy in a football jumper, first pushing his sister towards the poets gathered at their tables, then coming in himself. He asked me for a poem about an ·army man·, who saved the world. A few questions elicited images of this army man climbing cliffs, leaping out of planes, and generally kicking a lot of ass. I wrote it for him as a kind of rap, with a lot of rhythm and repetition, and he was delighted with it. By the time I´d finished his poem there was already a bubbling queue of people going out the door, and all of the writers were either talking folks through the poem they wanted, or had their heads down writing. From then on we didn´t stop for a moment. As soon as one person had had their poem read to them, and expressed their delight or amazement, sometimes their unexpected tears or laughter, another one was clearly waiting for the nod, up they came, "Hi, my name is......I´d love a poem for my father/husband/wife/puppy/disneyland trip/marathon." What struck me with everyone was just how incredible it was for them to watch their own lives give birth to poetry, just like that, how happy they were. For my own part I was surprised how easy it was to keep writing and writing; the lines flowed endlessly out of me, and a lot of it was good stuff. Two and a half hours of non stop poetic productivity, and I felt like I could have kept going and going with it. Writer´s block seems impossible when you´re doing for the sheer fun of seeing people´s faces light up.
Dave Rock