August 15, 2007

Old news but…

self-portrait

It's not new. I have been making new things but I can't scan them yet. So here's old hat. This is a little depiction of me in a less than cheery mood! Disclaimer / It is meant to be tongue in cheek / End disclaimer.

b n b

Something I did for an issue of Tapfactory. Disclaimer / The text in the image isn't mine, I was professional enough to leave it in, however, you'll notice. I did take the trouble to cross it out (because I ripped the page straight out of the magazine and stuck it on the wall of the Art Soc exhibition. Another highly professional move on my part, I think.) The image is my take on a poem submitted by another student, which was a lovely story about a couple honeymooning in a seaside town. 


August 10, 2007

Arctic / review of the Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden

So I thought it'd be yet another evening staring at my Warwick blog knowing full well I had nothing to contribute as yet - shifting my eyes between three open Word documents and blogbuilder, tweaking two of four saved draft entries. Then I found this one in a completely random folder on my laptop. I'm sure that when I leave this earth, writing a few dubious poems will have been the least of my many sins. So let's go for it. 

Arctic

So:

everything I need is packed into
the arctic ice so when I excavate,
I find what I need and that’s just great
- I also find that someone has been here before
me and made provisions
Like someone who’d thought
‘bout where I was going,
how I’d be getting there
and what I need.

So why am I
just sitting on my sled
watching other intrepid explorers
move towards their next camp. Is it because
- I’m so stricken with jealousy
there’s not much more I can do.
Like frostbite in my toes…

A few words about my first time at the Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden: So  Tuesday night I decided it was time to go and check out the living, breathing poetry scene, if you were. I brought a couple of my poems to read as I figured that the sense of achievement would pay my own train fare to the city. The venue itself is absoloutely nothing like I expected it to look. From the outside, it has all the charm of a small travel agency (the upstairs interior is nice enough, a few pine tables with a bar), and the basement where the readings take place is akin to a doctor's waiting room with leaflets adorning the walls. Nevermind - a bit of mood lighting and a boozy atmosphere, together with an enthusiastic and committed crowd turn it into an engaging evening out. I've often found that poetry readings are best used for some alone time with your mind, zoning out and letting the words wash over you. I mostly listened though, was pleasantly very impressed with the standard of the readers - their humour and their variety, lovely stuff.

August 06, 2007

Sorority Garden

Sorority Garden

Why do taller, half-blood species struggle
to know the babies they share water with?
Tell me
do you find it a quest for alpha-sibling dominance?
you sigh as well, I see.
Can’t they see that we don’t want play,
and we don’t want battle.
All we want is prattle – don’t goad me;
I’m learning the force of what it means to be grown
and sometimes I just need to unload.
How dare she!
insist on my habits as outlandish,
or worse still: special.
Embaressed by my luck, I rush to give up,
I fall over myself to explain
my books, my clothes, my hair –
which is no ‘do, it’s a don’t resultant of a day spent
lounging in the front room, conspiring ways to escape
to people more my own age.
She announces her new ‘double jointed’ tendrils:
“maybe”, I answer, politely.
She’s now well-advanced in tae-kwon do, and looks as if she could really do injury.
She can huff and kick all she likes,
For I am the holder of a black belt in sarcasm.

August 01, 2007

Casual Addict

Casual Addict

Little tin clattering
for your dust and papers
- I: “craft kit for grown-ups.”
But I’m too advanced in youth
to develop a casual addiction now.
Too calculating to speak,
I leave the wine
- each drop has smarted my tongue,
and put it down
needing to fulfil my mission of speech.

Enough’s down already and I don’t
need to be filled.
Just look at your full lips
and teddy-bear eyes
- push your black hair back little girl
and take a deep intake of mystery.

You always had
to wait to get
far enough away from your house
to let your lungs full.

July 28, 2007

The Rose Tattoo at the National Theatre

Originally sought as a back-up plan to failure to aquire tickets to the Globe that same evening, Tenesse Williams' The Rose Tattoo turned out to be anything but second rate.

Ushered in eight minutes late, precariously navigating to our seats in the dark (stacked seemingly vertically in the upper balcony), so began our attempts to quickly contextualise these characters - their backdrop, without the fact-sheet adventage of having even a passing familiarity with the play.

My discovery that 'My Family' actress Zoe Wannamaker is cast in the lead role of Serafina Delle Rose  threatened to blight my anticipation of the play with unpleasantly haughty reservations. However, she truly carried the play with a passionate performance, as voluptuous yet dignified as you'd want a Sicilian widow to be, a woman far from young and trim, sexy in her sweat-stained nightgown, proudly proclaiming her faithfulness to her deceased husband - her inability to move out of this state (the surrounding characters continually implore her to dress herself) speaking of a self-imposed chastity.

The other noteworthy aspect of the production was undoubtedly the set design, where a small, 4-bedroom working class house, dressed in a homely, southern chintz, is set atop a revolving platform. The genius of this is that the chaos of the first act is punctuated by a gaggle of small children and a live goat that run around the set. By contrast, the second act is a darker affair, relying far less on staging to make way for exploration in depth of the central characters. I felt cheerfully smug in the knowledge that our bargain £10 seats probably afforded us the best view of this open-plan staging.

The heavy themes of family, faith, spousal bereavement, adultery and the manipulation of sexuality were interpreted in an essentially warm, often comic manner that did not cost the play any of its' itensity. 


July 11, 2007

Breaking the habit

roadworks3_thumbnail.jpg roadworks2_thumbnail.jpg

roadworks1_thumbnail.jpg

These are some paintings I did last week. I haven't done much abstract before, and I consciously tried to paint differantly to how I normally do.  The colours came from thinking about driving long distances... and also just the general wacky, clashing, anything goes pallete that's around at the moment.


July 05, 2007

A lot of films

'Blood Diamond' starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly teeters between issue movie and blockbuster ground. Any terse flirtation between an antihero and the feisty female journalist at the beginning of the film threatens to make me roll my eyes so hard I almost went blind. Consider that this eyeball jiggling is before she delivers the line: "So if you're not going to help me, and we're not going to screw - why are you still here?" as an ultimatum for him to change his swindling ways. The half-hearted stabs at screwball comedy and the recurring, 'I'm the cameraman?' line also failed to impress. At this point you are unable to decide what kind of genre movie you are watching, or more to the point, what kind of movie you'd like to be watching. Too glossy in its characterisation, not as impressive with its script, to be as hard-hitting as say, City of God. Overall impression - educational, exciting, but the presentation of characters came off as trite and sweeping.

Next film to provide an evenings food for guilt was the documentary 'Black Gold', a film about the global coffee industry and the exploitation of farmers by multinationals.These educational films are all the more harrowing if you don't actually enjoy them that much. I was probably just extremely sleepy and, if I recall correctly, my mind was elsewhere. Documentaries should be mulled over on the comfort of your own sofa, watching upside down with your legs bicycling the air. Overall memories are of a well-made film. I blame any other feelings on myself.

A few nights later, jerking me out of any emotional inertia brought on by the previous two movies, 'Water', is easily one of the most moving films I've ever seen. I could be biased. Anything that reminds of your own culture and traditions, the faces and the voices onscreen reminding you of family and 'community' is sure to tug at the heart strings of someone living so apart from their ethnic heritage. Listening to the Hindi dialogue, I realised, was an intensely comforting experience. Although Hindi is not the language spoken at home for me, it is pretty similar to our Gujerati tongue, and is of course the language of Bollywood and Asian satellite channels. Onto the film itself; you may know that in India the common choices for female widows were as such 1. Death on her husbands funeral pyre (saathi - literally meaning 'together'), 2. Marrying the younger brother with familial consent 3. To life a life of deprivation, separate from the rest of the community. Be warned, this film takes not only one but two completely heart-in-mouth downturns towards the end. As a seasoned grumbler, I say one is enough, but the intention was obviously to stop produce something utterly soul-destroying to watch. I put it on the shelf of ‘Amazing film, don’t want to ever see it again’ along with the Green Mile and the Elephant Man.

Let us leave the comfort of the Arts Center cinema now, and move to a scene where three girls recline on a sofa after an impromptu post-curry rave in the living room and yawn like greyhounds, avoiding each others cold feet under the communal duvet. 'Dangerous Liaisons' is apparently one of my friends’ favorite films and I can certainly see why she likes it (funny to hear that the inflections and the speaking rhythms of the characters are very similar to her own.) Watching the movie at last helped me pinpoint the type of movie I most enjoy: 'Period romp where people in the olden days go around doing very bad things' I didn't stay for the whole movie but I’ll probably watch the rest of it soon. Hooray for public libraries. 

Which bring us to the movies I rented out yesterday. 'Miss Potter’, as recommended by my sister, was as expected, a piece of tripe. I hate telling my sister that the films she recommends when we rent things together usually turn out to be rubbish and no doubt makes me appear to be a giant beeatch. Usually I am pretty open minded with the one exception that it can't be anything with Nicole Kidman in it (ever noticed how people in their late twenties and thirties seem to fixate on that slightly older guard of Hollywood actors still working today? I guess it must be a leftover afterglow from the late eighties and early nineties when stars still seemed like more enlightened human beings than your average cinema go-er.)

I also rented Al Gores much talked about documentary on climate change, 'An Inconvenient Truth.'  I'll always remember the Simpsons regular send-ups of Gore as an emotionless android, being too young to really remember much useful about Gore and his political career. I confess I haven't really kept up with international politics since Politics A-Level. We all can't help but noticing that it's July for Gods sake, and we're sat indoors with windows and doors locked, wearing jumpers and making cups of hot chocolate, whilst outside the rains show no sign of letting up and making way for a heat wave any time soon. Those of us driving cars around are especially prone to biting our lips and wringing our hands in guilty anguish behind our backs. All are in agreement that the last few weeks of term were thoroughly bizarre, especially compared to last year when a trip outside halls of residence at 9am in early June could have easily lead to sunburn. The presentation of this film was really very good, with the scientific information presented in neat and digestible terms, with Gore standing flapping around at a screen behind him, alternating serious and playing the data for laughs with his studio audience. 

Last but not last, 'Transamerica' was a genuinely funny, witty road movie featuring a male to female transgender individual going by the name of Bree and her struggle to accept her male prostitute son, who calls her up out of the blue asking for bail. Juicy stuff right. The film manages to allow us to take Bree seriously, to feel as if we understand her struggle to define herself and find dignity, without really going into too dark or unsettling a tone.

Returning home from university seems to lead towards even later (earlier?) bed times than usual. I caught a little of 'A Clockwork Orange' on satellite last night. The first time I watched the movie I was around fifteen or sixteen years of age. I remember that the same year my pals and I dressed up as the droogs for Halloween, in white outfits with black bowler hats. A merry time was had by all. A mother asked us if our costumes were not a bit adult for the kids. But back to the film, I’m not sure how I feel about it, other than it is obviously a landmark piece of cinema and it is certainly not a meek or an unexciting effort and the set design and costumes are amazing. Perhaps it’s the overall coldness of the film that puts me off. A film that draws obvious influence from this is the much more recent Belgian film 'Man Bites Dog', which I borrowed from the university library in the first year. There were times when sitting in the kitchen which stank constantly of bacon butties reading old copies of FHM just got a bit too much for a young girl, and she had to retire to her boudoir with a bit of European video nastiness. So anyway, that was me making good use of 'alone time' in the first year.

Just now I watched 'Swimming Pool' in its entirety. It was as I thought it would be, one of those languorous films set in Europe where dialogue is minimal, people spy on each other from balconies, and naked body parts droop about the place - seemingly superfluously, until someone gets inexplicably horny. On the whole I really liked it. Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier were great playing off each other and the ending was deliciously mysterious.

And so now I might put my square peepers to bed.

I've got an urge to rent some more films tomorrow. I need to see 'The Libertine' again, because, and I also want to see Vin Diesels' 'Pitch Black' for some reason. I feel a yearning for far fetched stories awakening.

Updated… ‘The Libertine’ I admit I mostly liked this for Johnny Depps performance, not really understanding the dynamic between Rochester and Barry (Samantha Morton) the first time around. It’s a great film with great cinematography, but far too short. It isn’t enough of a psychological movie, but it can’t be, within its relatively miniscule (for a period film) time frame. But on the whole, I’d watch it just for the ‘prologue’. You know what I'm sayin. I did watch ‘Pitch Black’, along with ‘The Crow’. Both movies I would’ve probably liked when I was younger. Movie making has obviously moved on from the special effects both of these rely on. Both suffer from weak plotlines and bad acting. I rented both of these to see if I could reawaken my love of the campy Goth / sci-fi tinged that reigned supreme in my heart during the teen years. Unfortunately I seem to have grown up. What a pain.


May 29, 2007

Poem 4 U

I've been sitting on posting this for some time - it's one from the portfolio. I keep wanting to fancy it up. Never pleased with my language. This is a case of 'Emotions from the Archives', a bit of distance is always the best way, but past certain markers perhaps it affects the clarity. Maybe would be a good/bad name for an anthology. Disclaimer: This is not about the Beatles, or cult homicide.

‘Autumn ardour to burst upon a tome…’
Autumn ardour to burst upon a tome
of a helter-skelter, mattress un-life.
Neither suspect any of fates’ succor,
as address stumbles into correct surmise.
All those things are a hopeful stones’ throw,
from words that should in fact, write themselves.
But two-o’clock fingers of the sun go
walking on plain pages and burn small eyelets
in the will to survive a non-event,
after non-event, breaking a tiny breach,
(for want of use, all but drained, will to engage)
opened in the paper by a blunting of belief.

Meaning – ‘nothing’, that’s what this means to me,
black-bird in flight, flitting between bending houses.

May 24, 2007

Krishna shows Yashoda the Universe…

I've been drafting a poem tonight, but I won't post it for a while. I will however, post some of the inspiration behind elements of it. Hopefully it will make more sense when the poem appears - I'm not sure whether it'll be of interest to anyone who knows squat about Hindu mythology but - you're interested right? Heh. I remember a very interesting dramatisation of this that my family taped from TV. For years I thought the booming Hindi voiceover was actually the voice of God, recorded on VHS. Not sure how many times I watched that growing up...

Universe in Krishna's Mouth

One day Yasoda took her child on her lap and suckled Him. She kissed her son again and again. Just at that time the child yawned. When he opened His mouth, the mother saw the whole universe within it. She saw the sky, the space between the earth and the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the four quarters, fire, air, oceans, continents, mountains, rivers, forests, islands, and all things in the universe, animate and inanimate.

Yasoda who saw the whole universe within the mouth of her own son, shuddered and closed her eyes immediately in great fear. She was struck with wonder. This very moment, she requested Lord to be his son alone and never ever show her this form of almighty.

Yashoda is the human incarnation of the God Krishnas' earth-mother, by the way. Most rest of the stories about him involve him being all naughty and cute and stealing yoghurt, and stuff, and beating nasty demons down with his little baby pinky finger. This is one I really, really enjoy. I love the idea of this ordinary mother seeing this one moment of universal truth, accepting it, and asking never to see it again!

March 15, 2007

Anais Nin – Delta of Venus

Title:
Anais Nin - Delta of Venus
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

The first time I ever became aware of this book, I was around the age of sixteen. I stood in a hidden section of the public library, feeling slightly criminal. I nervously thumbed a short story entitled 'Artists and Models'. The prose was full of all sorts of sexiness. Some actually sexy. Some intriguing. Some faintly disgusting and frightening, even.

If you haven't read 'Artists and Models', it concerns an outsider's efforts to find out the sexual leanings, or physical characteristics, of a Parisian, gender-ambiguous artist named Mafouka.  Mafouka turns out to be a hermaphrodite. At the end of the story, the narrator - so aroused by Mafouka's revelation, begs to make love to Mafouka. This is rather jarring, but perhaps a clever plot device. The sudden change in the narrator's feelings, from strict observer, to suddenly being overcome by desire, is a shock to read, especially when the visual imagination is seeing a "small, atrophied penis..."

My favourite way of thinking about this work as a whole is that it is perhaps an attempt at 'sexual anthropology'. It seems that the main purpose in collecting these varied stories together is to show a variety of psychological condition. A married woman does not orgasm until she has a sapphic encounter with her best friend on a trip to the cinema. A young male life model can only become sexually aroused when he is observed in the nude, and to the frustration of the female artist, has no interest in the sex act itself. The book is low on emotion. It is about sex drive; not romance. Orifice upon orifice. It's a work with a lot of holes in it. There is bizzare violence in places, certainly, which always has its place in anything primarily about sex, however there is only one piece that strikes me as being absoloutely taboo. 'The Boarding School' contains a priest who abuses young boys, is merely three pages long, and concludes on a gang rape scene. For a collection which is marketed (the intent is a more difficult question - scroll down for my confusion on trying to contextualise the book) as being primarily intended to arouse and inspire, this makes for uncomfortable reading.

One way in which the book surprised me in its' tone was Nin's characterisation of her female protagonists. They are a bevvy of cheesecake-beauties,  all tiny waists, ample bosoms and flowing hair. I knew nothing of Nin before reading the book, and vaguely thought of it as something that was probably penned in the sixties or the seventies. My research (wikipedia) informs me that the stories in 'Delts of Venus' were written in the 1940's for "a dollar a page", by a Nin deseperate for cash. This explains all the Vargas girls, then. The "dollar a page" bit suddenly makes the book seem as cheap and crumbly as a packet of Jacobs  crackers... and this new perspective on when the book was written both explains a lot and makes a lot seem bizzare. It fulfills some of my ideas about forties culture, in that it's a bit  like a really dirty film noir, but in book form. But why does Nin put homovestites and hermaphrodites side by side, mixing symbols of submissive feminity with trangressive and highly individualistic figures? Wikipedia tells me that Nin hung out in the highbrow literary circles, so this qualifies her status as a 'serious' writer, I guess. She luurved a few serious writers, anyway. Gore Vidal? Henry Miller?...

Maybe next stop De Sade? He is by reputation of course, much nastier, and probably very funny. It should be interesting - if I can work up the courage to borrow it from the public library.


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