by Anita Foxall.
Poets and spoken word enthusiasts gathered again at MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton, on the 23rd of May for another Write a Note. This time there were poems, stories and even some comedy.
The variety of styles and the openness continue to be a constant presence, which makes it a safe place for new poets and spoken word performers to come and share their words. This is the essence if Write a Note, and my main aim is to keep it so.
I started the event by read one of my new poems, but for this article I chose to share and older piece.
(Editor: please note some poems contain adult language and may be unsuitable for children).
I have untold stories inside of me, but they struggle to come out, like a child who doesn’t want to be born and face the grey world.
I have untold stories that I don’t know how to tell, because the words that can tell them have not yet been invented. I can tell you what they are, what happened, but you will be unable to understand them. They will make absolutely no sense. But if you hold my hand and sit with me, you may be able to feel them. You may be able to feel the discomfort they cause in my chest, in my throat, inside my stomach.
So sit with me, hold my hand and all may just reveal itself.
I also have a few more wonderful pieces by two Write a Note attendees to share with you.
Carrie Myshkin’s BA was in Creative Writing and Philosophy, and her MA was in English Literature, focusing on space and time in the novels and Exegesis of self-styled “fictionalising philosopher” Philip K. Dick. She is, with Dave Hubble, one of the circles that constitute Venn, a very new band that makes songs about science fiction, weird fiction, and horror. She describes herself as basically a hermit and has a minimal online and offline presence, preferring to appear to people in dreams, portents, cloud formations, and, occasionally, articles like this one.
this poem has no title
douse me in dopamine
is this a poem about the autistic brain?
I couldn’t care less
it will be a stepping stone or not
you probably aren’t a well
my favorite symbol is the Venn diagram
it’s easier to find the passage you want
but it’s more exciting
I can’t turn you into software
I’m amused by your accusations
I’d much rather have the opposite
wasn’t it Wilde who said
that to see things as they really are
is the hardest thing in the world?
or was that Kastrup?
I don’t know if they are cypresses
but they rise up like them
and I powerwalk towards them
like a dog with her tongue hanging out
I pushed my rock up that Hill of Dreams
*four fucking years*
an empty man’s the perfect mannequin
and God did I sew clothes to dress you in
not to sound like Lady Macbeth but
you were an elevator made of vomit
and, yes, everyone was right,
that I gave you my crown
and you just
turned it into a cracker hat
my ankle hurts
I cannot multitask
the solar eclipses
in Fred Hoyle’s Astronomy
look like they’re looking at me
out of The Void
the lily and its shadow coexist
notice me, God
I’ve eaten illegal epiphanies
and I want to be top of the class
I went out looking for kicks
and found what? Nirvana?
in the world
of the soft pink marshmallows
and the world
of the rending pink triangles
and the world
of the golden hall of my ancestors
I am an owl made of eyes, seriphimous
and I have stared down a fire demon
and turned it into seahorses, you see
my feet wet through my shoes
and no-one can see me
on night walks
I am invisible
solitudinal stigmata in coat pockets
you’re not allowed to be happy in public
sincere irony comes into play
when I talk about it I’m not really ironic
irony that is ostensibly inward looking
but is probably really more outward looking
in a somewhat Machiavellian interpersonal
cushions the discomfort
of saying what I have to say
and provides a shield against
mentions of madness
some sacraments are too sublime
to be spoken of
it is in the always unanswered
prayers for sex
that popular music most vehemently bleats
with the advantage of plausible deniability
is unselfconscious enough to build steeples
made of math
more at home in the herm
there wasn’t much for me
down in the cave
I pirouetted it into a perfect circle
then I burned up into pure dervish
casually biting the flesh
off the inside my mouth
I casually converse
about how relatively well I’m doing
at not pulling the hair out of my head
eleven-year-old me was embarrassed
but it’s been a quarter of a century
a new coin for the ferryman
where I do my praying
I stare at it and it knows what I mean
for this half-hour at least
and it changes and is transmogrified
pterodactyls swoop upon a sky
swans are ichthyosaurs
and it slows down down down down down
and is still
and how does anyone cope
with the sheer strangeness
it is silver here on the river
like someone’s poured metal
into a vat
and, here, at this time,
the setting sun is mirrored
into passionate phosphorescence
how are they looking so much
in the wrong direction?
if this were man made
there would be queues
the world is a literary novel
in the transcendence of limned language
the hush is phenomenal
the constituents of the urgrund ripple
like a kazillion kalpas
the world is new
and things mean things
and metaphors are cumulative
I am building the world
out of the dead sea things
that constitute cliffs
I am a Fool
with a sandwich in Tupperware
passers-by can be part of it
even if they
Chris Higginson is a writer and teacher. His professional writing covers almost any subject you can imagine from simple travel articles, to deep-dives into teaching theory, to professional ghost-writing; whereas his personal writing tends towards speculative fiction and short stories. He has published a lot online, has a novel that is currently going through the publishing mill, is going to have a couple of short stories published later this year in an anthology of best young writers, and cowrote a book of travel writing and memoir called ‘Johanis Pardidoe’ that will be published this summer. Attached are three short stories from a project where he wrote one micro-fiction story a day for 100 days.
At some point it became impossible to tell where the man stopped and the cards began. Every part of him was now stored on a series of paper squares, each one neatly and alphabetically stored in an endless pyramid of boxes that filled his small flat, floor to ceiling.
It began as a diary that expanded to include contact book, then a photo book and now encompassed everything that had ever happened to him, a physical extension of his mind, filling his home.
Being a naturally lazy man, he allowed himself to forget the things he had written on his cards, which was fine, if he needed to remember a holiday he had taken when he was 23 or his sister’s name, he would just check the system, and for a while it worked well. Until one winter, colder and damper than the others (he was able to check his weather and temperature records to be sure) the cards stared breaking down, being dissolved by the damp.
Now his cards were falling apart. He no longer knew where he’d been born, or the name of his childhood best friend. It was dementia, brought on by mid-winter mould.
God appeared, for the first time in history, to apologise for never being around and to say He was heading off. Sorry for the inconvenience.
He said He’s made the universe, then got distracted doing other things: playing with tails of nebula, forming dust clouds in the void, Hawking-Radiation-ing black holes out of existence, you know, God stuff. Then He looked up and there were half a dozen planets with sentient life and some crazy ideas, worshiping Him.
For a while He was going to disappear us into non-existence, pretend the whole thing had never happened and move on, but ethically just couldn’t do it. Somehow it just seemed wrong.
So, he apologised, this was His mess and he dragged us into it, but here we are now, so we should all just make as good a go of it as possible.
To leave no room for ambiguity or argument He carved the whole explanation and apology in giant letters into a mountain on every continent before saying his goodbyes.
‘Good luck with everything’, He wrote at the bottom.
‘And what can I do for you today’, the doctor checked his laptop screen, ‘Mr Dribble’.
Mr Dribble sat on the uncomfortable seat, his right knee pinned in place above his left, he brought a fist up to his mouth and cleared his throat, as if making a point.
‘Doctor, I just can’t get over the sensation that I’m just a…’, he struggled to find the right word, ‘a sack of watery goo and blobby bits, pretending to be a real person.’ He swallowed and held up the end of his tie between thumb and forefinger. ‘Wearing this thing, like it’s a perfectly normal thing to do’, he waved the tie back and forth between them, as if it was a particularly unusual crustacean he’d found in a rock pool.
Dr Coughwiggle pressed the tips of his fingers together and looked over his desk at the man as he stared at the end of his tie.
‘Yes’, the doctor said.
Dribble had stopped waving his tie back and forth, but still held it up, and they sat in silence for a moment and contemplated the tie’s pointed end. It had trains on it.
‘Anything else I can help you with, today?’
‘No, I don’t think so. Thank you’.
The door closed behind the man and Dr Coughwiggle sat in silence, wondering what to put in his patient notes.
We were cycling through the rice fields at dusk, the sun already behind the western hills. Our concreted route (too narrow to properly be called a road, too busy with motorbikes, cyclists and joggers to be called a path) is elevated a metre or so above the level of the fields.
Officially there’s Covid in Vietnam’s Quang Nam province but, epidemic or not, the rice needs to be harvested, so the fields are full of hard working people in heavy clothes, sweating shoulder to shoulder, hardly a mask in sight.
The light is perfectly golden, so we’ve stopped to watch the last of the sacks of rice be brought in when there’s a sudden commotion. Three of the field workers are running in circles, back and forth, zig-zagging from side to side, clearly following something darting around in what’s left of the rice stalks. One moment they’re in a heap on the floor, panting, then they’re up again sprinting forward, a man dives sideways, arms out, like a goalie saving a penalty.
Then, one of the men stands triumphant. He is facing away from the gathered crowd, showing off to some unseen watcher, holding two dark objects above his head,. It’s not a snake, as I first thought, but two small birds that madly beat their wings trying to escape.
The two other men walk away dejectedly, only he will have meat for tonight’s pot.
Happiness, for me, was always a kind of bookshop.
There should be high shelves, labelled with a faded black pen ‘Biography N’, or ‘Travel – Asia’, on which old hardback books with plain green or red covers sit, soaking up the dust, generated by the surrounding air.
You can follow a warrenous pathway, with ‘Military History’ or your left and ‘Foreign Language’ on your right until you reach a small open area. A moth-eaten red rug has been thrown over the old floorboards and lazy afternoon light falls through a dirty window. A tortoise-shell cat sits at the window, watching the people coming and going outside.
You have an hour where no-one needs you to do anything, and you’re not expected anywhere. Pick a small stack of books from the shell, take a seat on the old chair covered in thick, overstuffed cushions and disappear for a while.
I always find that an evening of poetry becomes richer and cozier with some music. Jim Chorley was the music guest this month and he truly delighted us with magnificent songs about Twitter, Southampton and crop-circles. This was the first time Jim sang at Write a Note and I believe he enjoyed playing for an extraordinarily attentive audience, who even joined in and sang along with him at the end.
Jim Chorley is an Acoustic/Folk singer-songwriter who tells magical story-songs that encompass a life well lived and a life well loved. He is an authentic artist whose voice and song writing is timeless and to be cherished.
You can check out his work here:
Here are a few a link to ‘The Blueberry Moon’, a beautiful song he sang for us at Write a Note:
And his most recent song:
I would like to finish with a huge thank you to all of those who took part, attended and keep supporting Write a Note.
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