Bath Spa ‘Beyond Words’

‘Making Beyond Words’ Symposium at Corsham Court 16-17th June 2017

kayla rose

Dr. Kayla Rose said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their participation at Making Beyond Words at Corsham Court [Bath Spa University] this past weekend. It was a great day for us, with an incredibly high standard of work from our speakers and exhibitors, as well as fantastic engagement from all who attended.

Creativity and collaboration are at the heart of what we do here and we are inspired by your passion for word, image and concrete poetry.” and

“Thanks to Michael Pennie, who, along with Fiona Cassidy, put together an absolutely fabulous exhibition.”

a programme

I loved the wonderful programme booklet designed so exquisitely by Matthew Robertson & beautifully printed by Ripe Digital. I adore the way the numbers have been placed on pages, will use that in ma work one day. I love the black, grey and orange used to print the words and the layout with all the white space. Quite simply, it’s beautifully designed.

It set the scene as John Strachan opened the symposium and Stephen Bann delivered the Keynote lecture on the late Ian Hamilton Finlay’s work in Concrete poetry and other forms. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/nov/16/ian-hamilton-finlay-concrete-poetry

The following day was full of good talks, the great exhibition in which was my poem cycle ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’ letterpress printed by David Jury and referred to in the programme by Michael Pennie amongst ‘the other treasures’, [thanks Michael, and Josie Reed and Fiona Cassidy for the hanging with the lovely cover page looking like a nose!]

isev at corsham court 2 sm

Our prints were hung alongside some of the ‘greats’ in the field including Dom Silvester Houedard, ‘…the leading theorist of the concrete poetry movement’ and b s johnson, what an honour.

a houedard + basho sm

 Now let my photos take you through the days;

 charles vereyCharles Verey

Who is working towards a biography about Dom Silvester Houedard (aka DSH) did the first talk and began to fill in my missing knowledge about the man who said

‘a poet is someone…

whose art matter is LANGUAGE…

communication by the ‘langue’

the tongue…

by any means WHATSOEVER.’

[Which would by corollary include spoken word or even sound, like the sound poems of Henry Chopin & Kurt Schwitters. /sonic experiments like http://avant.org/artifact/liz-phillips/%5D

viv

Viviane Carvalho da Annunciacao talked about the work of  The Noigandres group in Brazil and its relations with Scottish poetartists like Ian Hamilton Finlay & Edwin Morgan. [The Noigandres group, which takes its name from a neologism* found in an Ezra Pound poem, was formed in 1952 by the Sao Paolo poets Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos, and Décio Pignitari. * a newly coined word or expression.]

nicola simpson (4)

Nicola Simpson

Talked about Houedard’s collaboration with students at Bath Spa uni. On how she has found some of the beautiful work done back then tucked away in people’s garages.

mitch

Tim (Mitch) Fletcher

I had a nice chat with ‘Mitch’ before he spoke and it turns out he values the work of Henri Chopin https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/feb/05/poetry.culture    whose work was beautifully displayed at Firstsite in Colchester some years ago. Mitch thought that Ingatestone is out in the sticks like Camulodunum but I informed him that no it’s a Ingatestone’s throw frae Londinium.

He gave a great intro to the work of the much missed at this symposium John Furnival which has come not a moment too late to flag up the need to rescue so much of the work done by the early practitioners in Concrete poetry and related media.

Whilst Chopin was creating his merveilleux (marvelous) Typewriter poems (also known as dactylopoèmes) Furnival & Davies were making ‘Feelie Boxes’ which are kinda scary cos they put stuff in boxes into which you couldn’t see but were asked to place your hands to discover ‘things’ with differing surface texture. There was nought sinister about em, they were in fact reminiscent of surrealist boxes like those of Max Ernst and Joseph Cornell (who died in 1972). Furnival & Davies also collaborated on electro-acoooustic music and unusual score-sheets after the style of John Cage.

My immediate feeling for music of any kind is that I love to hear much of it but am no ‘player’, however Cage mage it possible for anyone to ‘make music’. [Did you know that Velvet Underground’s John Cale spent time working for/with Cage?]

I missed the Roundtable discussion because I exercised my right to go out for walkies to a second hand shop I saw the night before and I bought a beautiful Corgi toy car model of the Vanwall racer http://www.grandprixhistory.org/vanwall.htm which Stirling Moss drove in when I were a youngster. As I walked down the road I thought to myself that exercising this privilege was not my habit in my college and school days, but I wished I had, then I may have missed many a boring lecture some of which are mentioned in my new A4 Shrewd Idiot book which is about my student days from 1969-73 exactly coinciding with much of the early work discussed and treasured by this symposium. I was touched, nay tainted, by many of the influences that the early concrete poets were looking to. [I had to mention it (A4SI) didn’t I, cos I can! Much more about it in ma next blArt. Like Neil Young, “I’m still living the dream we had, for me it’s not over.”]

Leandro Maia

Did a great talk assisted by his own song and constant movement about the influence of Concrete Poetry on popular Brazilian song. I loved his solo rendition of Palavra Nao e Coisa. I took a copy (which am yet to pay for, it’s very good, am hearing it for the first time right now, then I’ll get in contact with Leandro to settle up) of his Palavreio cd on which he shows his virtuoso skills on instruments, voice and electronics. I’d like to get access to those footpedals he uses, one records it live the other puts it on repeat and projects the sound…wow, let me get my hands on one of them!

leandro Maia gear tiny

I’m afraid I am going to flash thru the last couple of talks as my time has run out.

mike collier

Conor Wilson

Did an interesting talk on how the maker & audience might become an object among objects…’ and how his poem, A Game of JUG is influenced by the image-text-ground playing field of concrete.

conor wilson

Mike Collier

Did a talk on how he walks the ‘urban Edgelands’ and has created WALK-‘Walking, Art, Landskip & Knowledge’

tom clark

Tom Clark

Gave us more info about subtle use of positioning words & white space on pages of books to create different interpretations.

As I had a heads up from John Strachan that Tom Clark (Thomas A. Clark * http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poets/thomas-clark ) is ‘one of the best’ I took notes during his talk.

He began showing a fairly traditionally layed out poem with ‘default set at left margin justified’

‘writing is a fluid ongoing activity, making is a static process’

He shows a four line poem, ‘distributed or constellated in space which can enter intimately into the whole sense of the poem’, then he shows ‘extensions of the stanza break(s)’ with ‘space & Time for perception’ where ‘the (white) space is of value’. So we see two double page spreads with the firsthaving a blank page left and the four line verse top of the right hand page, then the second spread having (say) a six line verse to left and a 3 line verse to right side.

He then showed a book with a poem in which comprised double spreads with just one word to right hand page, ‘flowing’ and the poem was about a river which flows, indicated by one word every other page.

“My (Moschatel) Press has been an investigation into presentation as an aspect of form.  A book is as a glade, a bright space in a forest.” He mentions his publishing of post card(poem)s. Talks of the no need to ‘Blow a whole poem up big on a wall’ Because, ‘You only misunderstand the opportunity…No…Only use small texts’. I think he means that postcard size is just as, maybe more, powerful than making BIG for the sake of it, just because you can.

http://thomasaclarkblog.blogspot.co.uk/

“In 1973, with the artist Laurie Clark, he started Moschatel Press. At first a vehicle for small publications by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Cid Corman, Jonathan Williams, Simon Cutts and others, it soon developed into a means of formal investigation within his own poetry, treating the book as imaginative space, the page as a framing device or as quiet around an image or a phrase, the turning of pages as revelation or delay.

From 1986, Laurie and Thomas A Clark have run Cairn Gallery, one of the earliest of ‘artist-run spaces’” Scottish Poetry Library.

christina slade2

Then John Strachan invited Christina Slade to close proceedings and we had to scarper the premises so that the peacocks could return to their peaceful haven uninterrupted.

a trampled liceSadly this ancient resident was trampled underfoot in the haste to leave.

m pennie + fiona cassidy maybe

(Photo of Michael Pennie & Fiona Cassidy is not mine I am grateful to the Net for it.)

Michael Pennie

Altho Michael Pennie did not speak from the front he spoke eloquently in his selection of the works on display in the beautiful exhibition [which must be the shortest lifespan of any I have ever witnessed (about 2 hours)] and which Fiona so ably assisted with the hanging.

I was so happy to see David’s wonderful letterpress prints referred to in Michael’s note in the programme as one of the treasures. He also made very affirming noises about the bound copy of the prints which I was showing Josie Reed. Thanks Michael, and Josie for suggesting our work to him.

Finally- During one of the morning talks I saw a slide which showed some old letterpress prints in which the maker in attempting to illustrate how the ‘sublime god displaces man(kind)’ using ‘disorientating typographical design’ had created a diagonal dagger like shape in a piece about, ‘the panther profecy’ (his spellin). I saw an incredible affinity between that print and the one David Jury had done of my Beuys Poem in our collaboration, Inside This Earthen Vessel.

dj's diagonal2David created the diagonal on his set up using a metal rod and he sawed the wooden letter in two to add to the concept of the jug being split asunder as it hits the floor a direct comparison with Beuys’ alleged crash. I was happy to see Josie Reed also noticed in the same panther page a synchronistic link to my Earthen Vessel analogy in the words ‘a Potter’s wheel’ printed some 100 years ago.

peacock majestic

And thanks to my long standing friends Gus & Linda Fraser for once again giving me a place to stay so I could attend this wonderful event.

IF you are in the Colchester area this Friday 30th June come and  join us at Firstsite gallery at 7.15 pm. I shall be reading a new poem based on my Appleheadman Sees screenprints from 1972. You’ll see that not much has changed, same old same old song of woe song of innocence song of hope.http://www.firstsite.uk/whats-on/reading-music-evening-educaid-sierra-leone/

apulscreem 2017 cover sm

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A Dream of Journeys

a pete in hood

In the night I dreamt I was on a journey. I often have dreams of journeys, often a repeat dream where I am heading south to Exeter (I spent 4 years at college there 1969-73) but often I have nowhere to stay, often there’s a feeling of strandedness. In my lived life I sometimes did get stranded with no accommodation for a night or the beginning of a term. But these dreams are more than that; they’re a lifetime concern, a hope that we won’t ever get stranded (like refugees do). That must be one of a human being’s (I prefer my © words for ’em – Ubeen’s or Ubeings*) worst worries, to be stranded at all but even worse for long, indefinite periods.

*You see what I mean is, a Ubeen connotes that you have had a life, you been there and done it etc. a Ubeing is a you being alive Now! You being here, you being around and about. You being a witness etc.

Let’s make that official; ‘Ubeens’ & ‘Ubeings©Pete Kennedy 2017

There’s another dream repeats itself where am walking on country paths around a town which can sometimes be seen down below, sometimes the path gets clogged up, so much so it’s impassable. A feeling of lostness, permanently searching apparently fruitlessly, or with little hope of ‘finding’ the undeclared object of my search. And isn’t that a lot like life itself?

Life is like a dream anyway isn’t it?

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I have almost completed the A4 version of my Shrewd Idiot book, completed the refreshed layout and final edit and additional little bits that crop up, “Oh yeh, it’d be nice to include/exclude that this time”. It’s a story about someone who went to spend 4 years at college in Exeter between 1969-73, but the person in the book isn’t me, he does lots of things I would never dream of doing! There’s little additional comments added to the 1970’s text which may be me, the 66 years old fella, but the 19-23 year old in the story isn’t me. He had hair for one thing (or millions of things if you care to count them). He was rather footloose and fancy free and certainly not steady in his relationships, well that’s not me, is it!

9780950426730 back + spine sm

The back cover has some words from inside the book, shows me in all my uncertainty, prone to the wafting winds. BUT. The book chronicles my ‘growing up’ from a just left school 6th former to a qualified teacher with a honors degree. I know that sounds like the story of millions but believe me mine is not quite the same as all the rest. The book is not a reminiscences thing, no, it were written at the time, several times. I handwrote the first recording of my experiences between 1969-73 (tho not many are actually retold) in exercise books and scraps o paper. It’s NOT blow by blow accounts of day to day happening, the writing was heavily influenced by the likes of Sartre (Nausea), Henry Miller (NOT Artur!) and not his Tropics so much as his later more reflective philosophical writing, Joyce (I did read, if that’s what you can call going thru Fin Er Gain’s Waits and it DID have a massive effect on me. All of my altered spellin probli began with Fint Eee Gaga Awoke), Robert Walser and Albert Camus (Myth of Sysyphus).

The story is not crafted in the way a normal novel might be. The storyline is mostly chronological with occasional flashbacks. The whole book is propelled by copious images of many different sizes. In some ways the images are the ‘Shrewd’ part although one of the characters that I ‘invented’ may take the biscuit for the shrewdest of em all. The (anti-rather-chauvinistic) hero shows himself up to be rather less shrewd. Even to the extent that once he belatedly began to work his trade he didn’t realise that even labouring away 18 hours 24 seven wouldn’t get him his objective, his reputation had gone before him so in the end there could only be sadness. But he never even realised that as he ploughed on thru his days. And thru his various manuscripts of this book.

In 1976 he left his teaching job to be a artisbloke. Disaster. He did write longhand The Shrewd Iriot and took it to be typed by Jill (poor girl, it must have been hell). Then he tried various publishers with some degree of success which is chronicled in the Appendicitis at the bach. Then he hid it away pulled it out in the 80’s and added some hand-notes and re-put it away til in 2015 he decided to spend 3 months making it into a book. 2 ¼ years later, now, it’s complete and ready to be bound. On sale at £45 per copy on July 1st 2017, that’s when as kids our holiday began in Burnley. I should be able to retire on the proceeds of the sales, NOT, as am only printing 50 copies.

Below is a page from the book, it’s published like a typescript manuscript, cos that’s what it is. Am still looking for a big publisher, d’ya know of any?

Layout 1

Memoir

Why are we here?

To make a mark?

To make our mark?

To leave a trace?

 

A pretty face

Or

A Ugli face

 

My Celtic name is O’Ceinedegh

It means ‘Uglyhead’ you see.

 

My face has changed

It’s not what it used to be

It’s not young any more

It’s Old errrr

Now

Am even uglier than before

 

Age has taught me that

What you see is not all there is to

See

When you look at an old person

You see their age of course

What you don’t see

Is their whole life story

 

That old bloke

Was once a handsome child

A red blooded lad

A constant dad

 

You cannot see the life what he had

The joy that he saw

His merry go round

The life he see saw

 

Young (wo)man

Take a look at me now

I was once a lot more

But I’m not sore

 

And one great consolation

Is the wisdom from my days

Shrewdness took a long time to kick in

Now

Like the whiskers on me chin

It’s come right in

On time.