‘Photographs’ – writing exercise

I love using images to generate language – and this week in the weekly writing workshop I facilitate for people in addiction recovery, we looked at five photographs – three by Mary Ellen Mark, and two by William Eggleston:

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and we tried to use these images as inspiration to generate poetry (poems). I don’t always get the opportunity to attempt the exercises whilst I’m facilitating, but I love this kind of image-generated exercise – so I gave it a go. Instead of focussing on one photograph, I utilised all five, and this is what I came up with.

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Why not give it a go yourself and see what you come up with….

 

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Johnny Bender Launch Party Chameleon Arts Cafe Nottingham Friday 24th June 2016

I had a fantastic night hosting/compering/interviewing/rabble-rousing/drunkard stewarding/evoking voodoo/performing poetry at the launch party for the publication of the amazing Dean Lilleyman’s second novel, ‘The Gospel According To Johnny Bender’. It was a magical night, a celebration of the eternal culture of Making Stuff, a ritual anointing of Our Johnny, a blood-vow of love and support for Dean and his every mercurial endeavour…

On the night I managed to let the X-Pro1 whir a few (hundred) shots through the silver dog-moon apparition chamber. This is The Launch Party For Johnny Bender According To My Feral Eye. Enjoy! (and go kop the book it’s a future classic just reach out your hands feel for the tongue on fire and it’s yours…)

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Hand Job Zine Launch Party Saturday 16th April 2016 – In Pictures

Had a fantastic time hosting and performing at Hand Job Zine’s launch party for issue 10 last night. Congratulations to Jim and Sophie from Hand Job for organising a wonderful night of entertainment, and also to everyone who came down, performed or partied or both.

The zine looks absolutely amazing and is packed with some incredible writing – including *ahem* a story by yours truly – and comes with a c.d. of spoken word, and a song by myself and John Freer (otherwise known as We Bleed Ink). As well as photography by the brilliant and talented Sophie Pitchford. You can pick up a copy of the zine here.

I managed to squeak a few photos out of the x-pro1 inbetween introducing acts and performing… this is the night in pictures according to my twitchy feral eye….

(By the way, the band were fucking brilliant, they’re called The White Skull Death Snakes Of Death… Check’em out)

Enjoy the pictures ar kid… and see you at the next one! xx

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(note on the photographs: all shot on fuji x-pro1 – no image was cropped, grain is due to high iso as was low light in venue and camera has no flash. also, if you use any images please credit myself – Miggy Angel – as the photographer/author of the image. Cheers! xx)

Do Or Die Poets At Sobar Friday 26th February 6-9pm

The Do Or Die Poets return to Sobar for another night of live lit, hosted by Miggy Angel – and featuring our headline performer, the incomparable John Marriott!

There will be an open mic on the night – places are limited so arrive early to book a spot.

This is a free event, hosted by Sobar, Nottingham’s premiere alcohol-free venue. Food will be served between 6-7pm – so why not bring the family, enjoy great food and an evening of amazing poetry!

The Do Or Die Poets are a group of performance poets in recovery – come and support their incredible work, and maybe read a poem yourself on the open mic!

I’ll leave you with a cracking tune from John Marriott – be sure to come down and hear him live this friday! Look forward to seeing you down there – love love love xx

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Miggy Angel presents The Do Or Die Poets – Part of the Nottingham Poetry Festival

FRIDAY 27th November 6-9pm at Sobar, 22 Friar Lane, Nottingham

Join us as we welcome the Nottingham Poetry Festival to the Sobar for a fantastic, inspiring night of Do Or Die poetry. The Do Or Die Poets are the attendees of my weekly creative writing workshop, where I am fortunate to witness the courage and talent of these brilliant writers-in-recovery, and I am very proud to be hosting an event intended to showcase and celebrate their amazing writing. It’s wonderful that the guys are also part of the inaugural Nottingham Poetry Festival!

On the evening we’ll have poetry from the Do Or Die Poets themselves, plus an open mic session (open mic slots are limited so arrive early to book as it will be first-come first-served) – as well as featured guests from the local Nottingham spoken word scene, and a set from our headline act, the fantastic East Midlands poet, Toby Campion!

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“Toby Campion is an award winning writer based in Leicester. Placing second in the UK at the National Poetry Slam Championships 2014, Toby has come first runner up at the BBC Poetry Slam Finals for the past 2 years running and was awarded the Most Promising Playwright Award 2015 by Fifth Word Theatre. Toby represented the UK at the Capturing Fire International Poetry Summit 2015 in Washington, DC and performs his poetry, which has been featured on national networks including BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4, at events across the UK and America. Passionate about engaging audiences with poetry, Toby co-hosts spoken word night Find the Right Words and organises national poetry competition, UniSlam.”

As usual, the evening will be compered by myself, your host, Miggy Angel.

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‘Miggy Angel I like your style!’ – John Cooper Clarke.

So, join us on Friday 27th Nov 6-9pm to celebrate the Nottingham Poetry Festival, and the wonderful Do Or Die Poets. See you there guys! It’s gonna be amazing! And it’s free!

***

Sobar says – “This will be an early gig, from 6pm – 9 pm, an early start to the weekend, and we hope you can join Sobar after work for a bite to eat – SOBAR is an alcohol free bar so we advise the milkshakes and vintage lemonade!

We will be doing a Happy Hour special between 6pm – 7pm where all our guests will receive 50% off all food on our menu.

The food is awesome too with a variety of treats such as Full english (all day), breakfast muffins & bacon sandwiches. We have panini, burgers, ‘soup of the day’, salads. We highly recommend the Goats Cheese panini!

The money spent at the bar goes towards the bands and to SOBAR which is part of the Double Impact Services charity helping people in recovery.

As with all SOBAR SOCIAL’s this event is FREE!

Sobar Social is a new exciting event held at Sobar on the last Friday of every month. The event is designed for people in recovery and their friends. It is an event where people can come together and enjoy an evening of entertainment and socialize without the booze.

Free-Write Poem With Picture #3

Alexander Tinei

Today's her birthday and we are arcs
of light in the afterdark
pharmacy, playing paper, scissors,
stone with the Ativan
machine. Our one religion
of breaking and entering. Her reflection
in blue-grain tinsel
through the moon-tomb
windowpane is a Renaissance
painting of classic,
anaesthetic proportions. Lowering
the sulphur and the hovering
lanterns of illuminated
barbiturates, down into
the cavern of our lungs’
breathless apparatus, the song
begins. And if she remembers
the words she shall be dead.
In the dream, a nuisance man, wearing
surgical mask, flags a hearse, waving
tombstone-white dove.

(Another free-write poem fragment by me – and painting by the amazing artist Alexander Tinei)

“Imagist Socialist Poetry and Artistic Reality”

Really thought-provoking piece on the power of the poetic image here

I agree with so much of this –

“Poetic images convert natural language, enlarge its borders and provide new possibilities of expression.”

Article by Turkish poet SERKAN ENGIN – do go have a peek over at the ‘Margutte’ site

Free-Write Poem With Picture #2

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If she keeps notsaying the thing

is that as good as sayingit, she wandered.

Hands, fluent in silence. The awning

kept an awful countenance,

contemptuous above the concrete.

Broken bricks in forlorn walls

toothed the street-mouth, little

sore-dust asphalt sharks that dart

beneath the tenements. And who

amongst us was betrothed

to the truth, she bartered. Poetry

was the way she waited forever

outside the closed door. If you listen

closely, every name is called

except for hers. Now, do you have

what you came for, have you

something red, shining, unjust

to write about?

 

(another free-write poem fragment by me, and artwork by the wonderful Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen)

Free-Write Poem With Picture

Gottfried Helnwein

Beneath her feet, the city

gossips, tarmac tongues whispering

the hymn of her returning.

Every sodden yard of hard-mooned

kerbstone unfurls to her insoles,

black locale knows the girl

& her swell cobalt mind

so well: the hackneyed princess

of slagheaps and monolithic

mole-hills of one-mil syringes.

Doom-town stare of a million

methadone-dawns.

– Miggy Angel

(I just wrote this lil orphan fragment off the top of my head – and as I’m trying to post here regularly again and cultivate a consistent writing practice I thought I’d share it with yous – the above artwork is by one of my fav artists: Gottfried Helnwein. Check his art out it is incredible.)

Oxjam at Rough Trade/Handjob Zine Launch at The Chameleon Cafe by way of Speech Therapy at Guitar Bar

This past week has been one of the busiest I’ve had performing-wise since I pared-back my reading activities to a minimum a couple of years ago after having burned out. I must say it’s been an absolutely exhilerating week and I have loved every one of the events I’ve been fortunate to have performed at.

The week began with the Oxjam event at Rough Trade record shop here in Nottingham – organised by Claire and Rosa from the Oxfam bookshop in town. I had a nice long set-time and was able to really appreciate the receptive crowd that assembled for the night. It’s always great to be amongst poetry lovers and I met some lovely people after the gig – got rid of some books too. The night was a mix of musicians, DJs and myself and the poet Alice Short providing the live lit element. Thanks again to Claire and Rosa for organising the night and booking me to perform – look forward to collaborating with the bookshop on events in the future.

Mid-week saw the return of Speech Therapy down at Bar Deux/Guitar Bar. If you’ve ever attended Speech Therapy then you know that I have a certain way of negotiating the task of hosting the night, let’s say. The event is quite anarchic, energetic, irreverent, but always extremely supportive, nurturing and encouraging of any one and every one who steps up to the mic to deliver their words. Something I’m most proud of is the fact that so many first-time poetry performers find the courage to perform their poems for the very first time down at Speech Therapy. This is no accident as I work hard to cultivate and preserve this atmosphere of encouragement – but I also like the fact that Speech Therapy has an edge to it. Hope to see you there next time! (fourth thurs of every month – see here for details)

Then on to Friday night – and the launch event for Handjob Zine – which I was scheduled to perform at and also host (just so you know, Handjob, the zine’s title, refers to the fact that the zine is Hand Made – I’m reliably informed by Jim and Sophie, the mag’s editors). Now, let me tell you, come seven o’clock on Friday evening, after a full week of day-job drugs work and also gigging in the evening, I was completely knackered. But Jim and Sophie are two of the nicest people going and for them, I will go the extra mile. I first met Jim because he had kopped a copy of Grime from a local bookshop, read it, loved it, and contacted me to tell me so. Jim is a genuine, humble lover of literature who set up a lit zine with his girlfriend, Sophie. They have a wonderfully working-class sensibility, a feel for the communal reach of the word, and a belief in the underbelly of the boar. The night was fantastic, with amazing words from amazing writers, (go view Handjob’s write-up of the event here and also check out some of the photos…) writers who read were: Louise Hart, Luke Humphries, Raif Mansell, Ben Williams, Holly Watson, Dean Lilleyman, and Joseph Ridgwell. It was great to see/hear Dean read from his novel again, after having met him recently when we booked him to perform at the Do Or Die Poets night down at Sobar. Also, I had the opportunity to meet Joseph Ridgwell – having read his work online for many years – and Joe turned out to be an absolutley top fella. We London-ed it up chin-wagging at the bar for an hour or so, which was another highlight of the night for me. And I met Martin Appleby the editor of Paper and Ink zine, who I’ve promised to send some poems to for the upcoming ‘Hangover’ issue. Go submit yourselves, it’s a great lil publication. Cheers for the free copy, Martin!

Local band White Finger – complete with my good friend Jess the drummer girl! – rounded off the night with a high voltage blast of Notts punk. A fitting end to a great night….

Gigs to put in your diary – Dean Lilleyman will be performing at the November Speech Therapy – and I will be hosting another Do Or Die Poets night at Sobar at the end of November. If you made it to the last Do Or Die night then you know that’s an event not to be missed.

Anyways, I’ll leave you with some pictures of my performance down at Rough Trade, taken by my friend Donna – thanks Donna. I look nuts. What can I say? I put everything into it when I read/perform my poems, or compere an event. I don’t like to leave anything unspent. Feels counterfeit to do any thing but give every thing you’ve got. As I like to say, I crawled for eternity on my hands and knees over broken glass and molten tarmac just to read you a poem. Where I come from, it’s the height of bad manners to tell a poem without your head on fire.

See you at the next seance my friends! xx

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Magazine Launch Tonight at Chameleon Arts Cafe

I’ll be performing (and compering) the HandJob magazine launch at Chameleon arts café tonight – really looking forward to this as have a lot of time for the wonderful Jim and Sophie – and also the night has an array of wonderful performers/writers lined up! Should be a cracking night! and just £3 on the door – 6till late – see you there! xx

Also – go and check out their mag’s site here and go buy the magazine whenever it drops okk

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Will be performing my poetry at the UK Recovery Federation annual conference in Manchester tomorrow

 – big thank you to Alistair for booking me for the UKRF event again this year – I had a great time performing for the event last year in Leicester and am really looking forward to tomorrow. Train at 6.39am tho… phew! If you’re going to the conference do come and say hi it’ll be great to catchup – the conference is a wonderful occasion for the recovery community to get together and encourage our collective creative forces. The day’s line-up of events is very wide-ranging and inspiring, around the themes of Hope and Transforming Our Communities – Connecting, Learning & Giving – I’m on stage between 1-1.30pm for 30mins of my poems – gonna be doing some new stuff too… see you there! …. now get to bed our kid we got an early start…

Love, Miggs xx

http://www.ukrf.org.uk/index.php/community-gatherings/2015

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Miggy Angel at UKRF Leicester 2014

Remembering Leo Vroman 1915-2014

Today, 10th April 2015, in the Dutch city of Gouda, the life and achievements of poet Leo Vroman are being celebrated. The 10th of April would have been Leo’s 100th birthday. For those that do not know, Leo Vroman was a poet, artist, scientist, and owner of one of the more incredible biographies in literature. Leo passed away on 22nd February, 2014, at his home in Fort Worth, Texas.

I discovered Leo and his work, fortuitously, because I have the great fortune to work with one of his daughters, Geri Griffin. We are drug workers in a substance-addiction service in Nottingham city centre. Geri says wonderful things like, “I am grateful to have a job where I get to use my soul.”

Geri told me, of her father, “One of my dad’s favourite lines from (of course) a New Yorker cartoon, showing Mrs. DaVinci with sceptical crossed arms, looking at her husband hunched over his littered work-desk: ‘Leo, aren’t you spreading yourself a little thin?'”

“Leo Vroman lived till the age of 98,” Geri continued, “residing in – going backwards in time – Fort Worth, New York City, New Jersey, Indonesia, and the Netherlands (which he fled when the Nazis invaded, since he was Jewish and pessimistic) – also surviving Japanese Prisoner Of War camps during the war.”

“So,” Geri said, “maybe the answer to the cartoon question, was ‘yes’, or maybe he just spread himself gloriously thick.”

***

MORAL

If Time is unable to,

who, dear readers, tell me who?

From House and Yard (Huis en tuin, 1979) – Leo Vroman

***

Geri told me, “In the Netherlands, Leo has been an established poet for decades, and received many literary accolades and awards there. In the United States he was a research biochemist, particularly examining the actions of proteins (such as those involved in clotting) on surfaces.  Someone (not him, though he was happy to repeat it) named one of these phenomena ‘The Vroman Effect’. Not only that, but the war-time love story between himself and his wife of 67 years, Tineke, was so dramatic that it was serialised by Tim Madigan in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and a book written in the Netherlands, which retells the story, ‘Hoe Mooi Alles’ by Mirjam van Hengel.

The majority of Leo’s poetry was written in Dutch, and published widely in Holland. This means that there are still people who would, undoubtedly, love his work in English-speaking countries, but maybe have yet to be introduced to it. What I have read of Leo’s poetry has been on-line. I loved his writing immediately. A kind of cross between the humanism and social conscience of a Vincent Ferrini, and the surreal probing of another notable poet/scientist, Miroslav Holub. Writing that is always engaging, as lithe as Leo’s bounding mind, five steps ahead of you but never out of reach, and always, always beckoning you onwards, and readable. Oh so readable.

***

CATHEDRALS

We are cathedrals

dark with hallways

marked with doors

barring the halls

and fallen gargoyles

guarding the floors.

On the walls

are drawings of hallways

hung with coils

of unstrung foils

and always the choir

hides in the height

of its hollow night

its lore unsung

of doors flung wide

to something outside

in the sunlight

From All Godforsaken Night (De godganselijke nacht, 1993) – Leo Vroman

You can read more of Leo’s poems at these links, here and here

***

“Leo was prolific in the visual arts,” Geri told me, “with computer art generated by programs he wrote in True Basic, employing chaos maths, did oil paintings in a surrealist or post-impressionist style, representational drawings of objects turned inside-out or otherwise morphing, and cartoons both child-like or ruthlessly political.”

Leo was a fantastic artist, you can see some of his amazing illustrations at this link:

http://vromanfoundation.com/beeldbank 101 Vroman 074

Thoughtful disintegration, 1993 – Leo Vroman
‘Ballpoint op papier
29,7 x 20,9 cm
Particuliere collectie’

***

There is, it seems to me, so much to be drawn from the life and work of Leo Vroman. A scientist whose poetry and art reminds us how the long mislaid secret of these rabidly rational times is that the imagination is still the first tool of empiricism – and a poet/artist who utilised his art to withstand and survive the horrors of war.

“Playwright Matty Selman is writing a play in English based on Leo’s unpublished manuscript, Touched by Blood. Matty’s play will share that title and explores both the wonder and the passion for truth characterised by Vroman’s work in all fields,” Geri said.

You can help support the efforts to produce Matty Selman’s play by clicking here

Finally, Geri told me, “Leo’s work was a plea for peace, a testimony of love to all living things, he joked almost constantly, and got angry at injustice. And almost the only advice Leo ever gave was ‘Do what you want.’

Do what you want, and, go find and read the work of Leo Vroman. Today, the 10th of April, 2015, on what would have been Leo’s one-hundredth birthday, the city of Gouda shall remember the incredible life-story and amazing body of work and achievements of Leo Vroman. So shall I.

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Leo Vroman – 1915-2014 

‘Rapture’ (or a photograph by Christer Strömholm, or my return to blogging, etc)

It’s almost two years since my book, Grime Kerbstone Psalms was published. In that time I have completed the writing of another two full collections of poetry, as well as amassed a horde of neglected fragments, false-starts, half-dawns, orphan-paragraphs and exiled verses, etc. I am, for the first time in over fifteen years, not writing. I am All Wrote Out.

I discovered this photograph recently. It is by Christer Strömholm. I cannot stop thinking about it.

Christer Strömholm

Before my book was published I used to write here regularly. I felt that I was ‘on the internet’ back then. I used this blog to journal my travails through art and life, to reflect on my writing practises etc. I recently moved every post from this blog into the trash folder, not realising that they are erased after thirty days. Now I no longer write here. I no longer feel as though I am ‘on the internet’. I feel like I am falling through the internet. Or rather, through a labyrinth of images. It has become clear to me recently, through observing my current online habits, that the internet is primarily, for me, a way to immerse myself in images. The internet is an image factory, and I am attendant at its conveyor belt, but have no idea of my purpose within this factory anymore.

We once had a project, remember? Please, friend, remind me. What was our project again?

Back to the image. Like I say, I cannot stop thinking about the Christer Strömholm photograph above. There are so many ways into this photograph, the myriad possible approaches towards its invitation, and all of those entrances are on fire.

Since having my book published, and completing a further two currently unpublished collections, the electric alphabet that once burned inside me has been replaced by an empty photograph album, and a thirst of another kind. When I blink I hear a camera’s mechanical click and my heart heaves again.

I do not know the name of the photograph above, if it has one, nor the context in which it was taken. But I cannot stop thinking about it.

The scene is smoke-filled. Is it the scene of a party with smoke-machine, or is it the scene of a disaster? Does the hand across the child’s face seek to help or hinder? Is it an adult protecting the child from witnessing horror? Was the hand intended to mask the mouth from the smoke? Is the hand the courier of an impish joke?

I often think about Blake’s admonishment that we look ‘through the eye’ not ‘with the eye’. I think that what he was advocating was the transcendence of the ego, of the subject/object binary, of the ‘I’ that has or uses the ‘eye’. Blake asked that we relinquish duality and become sight itself. Maybe this is the project I have mislaid.

Back to the Christer Strömholm photograph that I can’t stop thinking about.

At a certain age a hand is put before our eyes, maybe as soon as we are born, and this flesh-visor is the inheritance of a visual culture. A way of seeing is passed on to us, a language of comprehension. Is that inheritance symbolised by the elder’s hand which is being placed over the eyes of the child in the photograph? Is this why I am on the internet scouring for the images of cinema and photography? Am I resisting the hand-visor of inherited visual culture? Or is my searching, in fact, the actual adopting of this visage? Is the internet, the elder, placing the hand over the eyes of the child, that is me?

What does it mean to consume images? Are the images consumed? Or the viewer?

I recently watched ‘Arrebato’ (Rapture) by Iván Zulueta. All through the film the line is drawn between the shooting of drugs and the shooting of images, the addiction to representation, the addiction, more like, to preservation, whether the formaldehyde of narcotics or the camera.

I am not writing poetry at the moment. I have just bought a camera.

At the end of Arrebato the camera devours them. All that’s left is a red stain upon a roll of film.

My new camera feels so great in my hands. Like a freedom-pass. Like the key to the city. Like a loaded gun.

arrebato