Tag Archives: writing

Tell your story walking

7 Dec

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For the last two weeks now I have been intending to post out a piece on The Festival of Ideas and ArtiPeeps’ future. It hasn’t materialised for a number of reasons,  primarily because I seem to have lost myself somewhere in all the swirl of ‘doing’ and plans for the future. There has been no space for any extraneous writing other than those required by funders. Upon exploration now it has become strikingly clear to me that during this year I seem to have foregone self-care for service, which ultimately (I know) can lead to no good. You don’t need to totally ring yourself dry, background your needs and story for the sake of your passion/vision/project. It’s easy to do but it isn’t health or well-being or sensible. If you do the act is probably rooted in something darker and often in personal history.

I know that my bi-polar doesn’t help the situation. Balance is hard to find when you’re permanently chemically imbalanced, and I’m so driven and generally enthusiastic that I forget that there is an underlying process going on that is triggered by stress and drives me from up to down: if there is an up there WILL be, guaranteed, a down (that is the way of bi-polar, I forget that).

I also have two very active and powerful schemas going on which skew my thinking: what I call my ‘I am responsible’ schema and my ‘Care for others’ schema. These are interwoven patterns of thinking, cognitive miswirings that I have to permanently handle. They are always triggered by ‘doing’ and/or creating and they complicate everything I do. They were powerfully triggered by The Nine Realms, and as this year has gone on I’ve had to manage them more and more. They are strong and nasty and can make me think I’m not good, make me hit myself, or take things away like self-care, meditation, gentleness, food or steadiness and replace it with cruelty, anxiety, sabotage and a level of self-detestation that is hard to understand when you think I would be feeling great about myself.

When I stopped cognitive behavioural therapy, even though I had come to understand my thinking errors profoundly, I knew these miswirings couldn’t be fixed. I was gently told that I just had to become an expert at managing them, and that each time I did it would get a little bit better. Inch work which accumulates. That each time I tried something new, like ArtiPeeps, or the BBC, or the theatre company, or the library, that I would have to face these schemas and ways of thinking again and again. I don’t think I was presumptuous enough to think that I would come through The Nine Realms psychologically unscathed, but I was and am, shocked at how quickly, despite the success of it and the clear benefit, my balance went, how quickly I chose to replace myself with ArtiPeeps and the greater good.

My self-esteem has never been connected to what I do, what I create. You might expect otherwise. My self-esteem has always been nurtured when I have truly felt I have taken care of myself, not sabotaged, not endured or stuck the shards in (again). An intrinsic feeling (consolidation) and not something externally manifested. This is why achieving things externally never lasts for me because by the time whatever I have decided to do has finished I’ve usually died somewhere along the line and am scrambling around in my mind for some resemblance of myself. Why have I done this again?!

It took much longer to tie up The Nine Realms than I expected. There was the success of The Festival of Ideas (which came as a delightful add-on afterwards) the wonderful coming together again, and then the sending out of the backer rewards (delivering) and the last payments of invoices, which only was completed today. Unexpected things cropped up too: I had to rejig The Nine Realms budget for The Arts Council only the week before last when all I wanted was for things to stop. After a year of regular 60 hr a week work patterns and driving myself towards this collective goal and celebration of collaboration, I just wanted it all to stop. How can it be that the event happened 11-15 September and I’m still putting the project to rest at the end of November? Every ounce of me had been given- willingly, and I had to draw on a sense of energy and a positive psychology that wasn’t there anymore. My best self.

I had to use every reserve to complete what needed to be done, whilst my feelings of badness started to become huge (that’s the miswiring and the stress). What should have elicited feelings of joy and pride left me more in contact with my ongoing psychological vulnerability (my grin can hide a lot).

Physically I have had difficulties this year: I now have to walk with a stick a lot of the time, and I am losing mobility in three of my fingers in my left hand. I have cerebral palsy and I think in middle age, things are catching up on me. I soon won’t be able to grip much with my left hand and without my leg brace I walk like a geriatric lobster. I’m having to learn a new way of being, come to terms with the restrictions of my new physicality. When I caught glimpses of myself in The Nine Realms event photos, I was quite shocked at my own vulnerability- how stiff and ungainly I’d become. This physical shift has been going on at the same time as ArtiPeeps’ growth. It’s ironic.

For the past couple of weeks I have banished myself to my bed- to restore my body and mind and to try and reinstate some balance in my life. Every single self-care and physical practice that had been so carefully created over the previous three years vanished during this year. I took it all away myself ,and replaced self-care and myself with ArtiPeeps. It was a willing, wonderful giving which I couldn’t control, but equally it can’t continue because it’s unsustainable, doesn’t allow me to create and nurture my own story, and to give my true best to ArtiPeeps. How can well-being be a fundamental to ArtiPeeps if I don’t practice it myself? It doesn’t set a good example and serves ‘old Nicky’-beliefs that, in reality, are long gone. This is what humanitarian Zainab Salbi said about the nature of giving fully:

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I don’t want to be that rung out towel. I want to continue to grow ArtiPeeps into something wonderful, and to celebrate the creativity and talents of everyone who is involved. I want to serve from a position of strength and (as much as possible) equanimity. Now, I just have to get the balance right and to keep on walking the best way I know how- with integrity, care and a quieter mind.

Addendum:

Here’s a profoundly valuable and insightful video by performance artist Marina Abramović which has further consolidated my belief  in the notion of challenge that I have recently embedded into ArtiPeeps’ new artistic statement

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As ever, thank you for your interest, and I shall endeavour to get a post out about the 3rd ArtiPeeps season of work shortly.

Nicky

P.S.  Deb Talan’s song “Tell Your Story Walking” was is inspired by “Motherless Brooklyn”, a novel by Jonathan Lethem

The Seasons of Love: autumn by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #4)

11 Nov

 

Universe

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn

 

Foundations

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I turn the page, you stay put. It’s okay. We can do that, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be together; I tell myself this as a mantra when I sense that shift in either of us.

I like to drink until my head fizzes. Not every night, at the weekends. I like to discuss human nature, the world, the universe, its stars, galaxies, time-travel, or the possibility of other selves. You call it, talking about the “ins and outs of a rat’s arse”.

You like to earn money, and relish the challenge of persuading people to part with notes or coins. You start campaign groups after watching political debates. You separate out glass bottles from empty tins for the bin men, and remember more about the reality of everything. I admire your efficiency: you won’t waste a Joule on matter you can’t influence.

At night, we curl up and wait for the cat to come home. I balance a novel in one hand and rub your shoulders with the other. You watch documentaries until you can no longer keep your eyes open. You’re ready for bed before me. We’ve given up on compromise. Compromise means you get crabby and I’m wide awake at 3am.

I wait in the yard for the cat. I scan the night sky by the back door and try to count the stars. The cat makes his demands: supper and sofa. I rub my arms in the cold-spiked air, and am ready to return to the house.

I carry my novel and glasses upstairs, in case I wake before the alarm. I’m thinking of the duvet and its comfort. I imagine the feel of you shifting towards me, your half-conscious mutter that you love me, your breath hot on my neck, your arms tightening around my waist.

And like leaves in autumn everything falls away, leaving our skeletons in readiness for the next spell when light and warmth trigger buds to unfurl.

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn is the 4th of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here, spring here and summer here.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Shirley’s debut novel, ‘Skyjacked’ is to be published by Urbane Publishing  in 2016.

Big thanks goes to Shirley for sharing her Seasons of Love series with us!

 

 

 

‘Invocation’ and ‘Forward to the Americas’ by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #3)

14 Oct

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I hope very much that readers liked my first 2 poetry slots. I have chosen a consistent theme to conclude my showcase: super-human bravery, endeavour in potentially life-threatening conditions, work from May 2014 which was inspired by a modern day ‘Viking’ ie an ex-pupil of mine (Matthew Mason) who, as part of an 8 man team, rowed the Atlantic from West Africa to Barbados. Each shift over 24 hours involved 2 men rowing for 2 hours (for a gruelling 30 days in 40+ heat) They rowed for personal challenge and charitable causes, missing the world record for such a team by a mere 7 hours. Messages and 4 poems were written as encouragement and sent by magic!

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‘Invocation’ was inspired by the name of the boat ‘Titan’ so I imagined how sailors of old would appeal to ancient gods, such as Oceanus, to assist their passage. The second poem: ‘Forward to the Americas!’ is self-explanatory and references ‘as did sailors of old’ hence the link with the Norsemen! 

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Invocation

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“Oceanus!
O son of the sky,
We call to you ….
Oceanus,
Blessed ruler of waters and seas.
With Earth as our mother
We heed you,
We men
Are a different breed.
But accepting our challenge
As Titans,
We set out
On primordial seas.

Oceanus!
Arise with a new dawn,
Re- light the bold fire
In our eyes
And blow with your breath
To inspire us …
And grant us a following wind!”

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Forward To The Americas

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As bare-skinned boys
With a fire in your eyes
You set out
With the heat of Africa
Across your shoulders :
“Forward to the Americas!”
To ‘Ichirouganaim’
(Called by the Ancient Ones)
-Red land with white teeth-
Your ‘Barbados’, tiny bearded gem
Set amongst coral reefs.

Far, far , and fathoms deep
Across an Ocean ridge,
Rowing with the heave
Of your heartbeats.
What do you see and hear
In the Silence?
Earth, Sky, Sea,
Stars, Moon, Sun.
And the sea,
Always, the Atlantic Sea.

You bare-skinned boys,
Armoured now,
With fire in your heads,
Hauling oars,
Against the law & the lure
Of the sea;
Skimming shoals, sharks & turtles,
Time-travelling
Across 200 million years
Of a spreading ocean floor
In the wake of Conquistadores.
Like them, carrying personal faiths
As your talisman.
But your family bonds
Are Your Gold!
As did sea-farers of old ,
You go forward
With navigational magic —
And now satellites — message
Heaven-sent words.

You have marked your place
In this vast Universe.
“Now go on!
Forward, t’ward the Americas!”

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Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

You can find Carol’s previous two FreeSpaces here and here

 

The Seasons of Love: summer by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 3)

7 Oct

 

Conceptual cells

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The Seasons of Love: summer

 

Reboot

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He builds her, piece by piece. He doesn’t need to compare the image, grainy, not designed to display on current tech. He knows her by heart: violet eyes, long lashes, button nose, black silk hair and pale skin.

No one cares how the thing looks. He works for perfection but they’d be happy with bolts and big stitches. She needs to be wise and strong, obedient without question; something that will serve and protect; something that will adore, not destroy its creator.

He keys in height, based on estimation, body shape, based on his data entries – a combination of how he imagined, and the machine predicted, she would look.

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She’d run up the path, arms open to be captured by him. He’d scoop her into a bear hug and tell her he’d missed her. It won’t be forever, that’s what he told his wife. Contract work, high paid, away from Earth for months at a time. He’d stop when the code was complete – he promised – they were so close to a break-through. But that was getting old.

His wife didn’t trust bioelectronics. Where should one life finish before the other thing takes root? She wouldn’t allow them to test the implant when Isha got sick. The therapy was high risk with side-effects. But they both knew the alternative. His wife argued treatment was too much for her, too much for them. Let’s enjoy the time she has. He watched his daughter transform from flesh to threadbare.

After the service, his anger multiplied. He should have forced his wife to agree to the programme. He didn’t know who to be mad at, his wife or himself.

He stayed at work when they insisted he should go home.

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His creation sits up and opens her eyes. ‘Hello,’ she says.

He can barely look, or look away. She’s a blur through his tears. Already he plans how to make more, hundreds, thousands; if one crashes, there’ll be another ready to spark into life. He pictures how they’ll spring, fully grown and armed, like Athena. And how, godlike, she’ll remain unchanged, like summer on playback forever.

 

The Seasons of Love: summer is the third of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here and spring here

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Watch out for the last season…. coming soon!

 

 

The Northlands by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #2)

30 Sep

Vikings

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The Northlands

by Carol Whittam

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Out of the Northlands,
From that – huge before time
Before? When the world was new.
From that – ‘Once upon a time…
A deeply woven mythology grew –
When a man’s world was small.

Norsemen created their cosmos
…. As a world tree ….
Yggdrasil

To try to make sense of it all!

Heavens of stars,
Misty clouds and ice,
Dark chasms and wells below,
Whilst in the primordial centre,
A giant Ash tree started to grow!
Betwixt the Heavens & Hell,
Stretching and branching,
– Evergreen –
From gnarled roots
Deeply growing
Yggdrasil
Nine realms find!
Above, around and beneath
The tree’s gigantic girth,
One home in Midgard
For humankind,
The Viking farmers
Of
Middle Earth.

From thence sailed the brave,
– Leaving warm home fires –
Not knowing where they’d go!
Hauling wooden longships
Away from fire-stone, ice and snow;
Across serpent-ridden seas,
Steel-eyed, warrior minds,
Searching horizons, learning tides,
Battling storms, risking lives!
Crossing Utangard
Never knowing what they’d find!
Not knowing where they were going,
But knowing from whence they came:
Created from giant Ymir
Whom Odin ripped apart!
In sacrifice and renewal
He became their ancient sire.
In homelands formed of volcanic stone
Such folk were born with hearts of fire!
Their land was of his flesh,
Sacrificed to make their home.
Blood of blood and bone of bone.
O how his eyes made the sun glow!
O how his mind made the moon!
Powerful blood became water,
Breath of life the airy wind!
In this elemental world
Such Norsemen were born:
Born to be farming the land,
Born to be tested by waves,
Born with fire in their hearts,
They who were valiant and brave!

And Ymir, the life-bringer,
Sacrificial source of Earth,
The Heavens, the pounding waves of the sea!
And at the World’s centre, Firm and strong,
The mighty Ash: The Yggdrasil tree!
From this elemental world
Of the Northlands
These Vikings came!

 

 

Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!

 

Watch out for a third piece from Carol in the near future….

A Mother Sings To Her Fatherless Child by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #1)

22 Sep

yggdrasil-bronze

 

 

A Mother Sings To Her Fatherless Child

by Carol Whittam

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You came as our human child –
How can I make you understand?
For you are just a boy
Who fights to become a man.

So soon – you are knowing!
Growing, in this harsh North land of ice and fire,
Our earth, this realm of Midgard.

You came from valiant seed
Planted in a warrior’s tryst
Where Dragonboats, moored in rustling reeds,
Set out to sea
In the thawing of the year.

That year no ships returned.
Then sorrow crowned your head
As you were born my fatherless child,
Protected by his homestead fence.

In the glory of the midnight sun
We sensed his strength, now living on –
In you, my special one!

And you received his spirit
When bedded deep
In steaming straw, in warrior halls
Where mead ran sweet on victors’ lips
And the dark walls sang.

Sharpen to ancestral tones,
Tune your ear to heroic tales;
Round Thingstead fires hear wisdom
As your Father’s name sounds loud!
Your time will come!
You too will be a Viking king!

Watch hauled ships
On turning tides
Proud-set for lands anew,
See his face in valiant men,
Understand the things he knew:
Runic stones bring portents good,
Whetted swords raise battle cries,
Ever on, t‘ward lands afar
And the unknown chaos of Utangard!

Gaze South
O’er sunlit waves
On serpent troubled seas,
Dream wild
Strange shores,
You Viking boy –
This future – Yours!
Your time will come.
You will be a Viking King;

Yes – You will hear Valhalla ring!

 

Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!

 

A second of Carol’s Norse-themed poems will be posted on Wednesday 30th September. We’re so pleased Carol has found The Nine Realms a springboard for her creativity. 

The Seasons of Love: spring by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 2)

8 Sep

Shirley's FreeSpace Picture 2

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The Seasons of love: spring

Afterwards

Dana can’t cry, not in front of everyone. Bradley breaks down a couple of times. He leans against his wife and children for support. Dana holds onto the front row pew as the coffin appears. The service wasn’t her idea. She’d have preferred a woodland clearing surrounded by oaks and beech, the whisper of a breeze disturbing new shoots and a carpet of bluebells. But it was November.

Instead, she stands to sing, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. She mouths the words, never comfortable with singing out loud, and listens to the rain lash against stained glass. She checks her watch, no need to retrieve the ten o’clock pills from their box. Her fingers twitch.

Bradley said she looked tired and asked about the Will. She’d gone grey since the last time they met. He used to phone once a week. Their mother would wait for his call while Dana ran her bath or made sure she had the right sized clippers for toenails. The rest of her evening consisted of drying, moisturising and plucking, whilst her mother reeled off Bradley’s achievements: his commercial appearances, his talented children and wife, his house, his car, his fancy suits.

Dana had fallen in love, years before with an entrepreneurial man, but she was never a part of his long-term plans. She retreated into her paintings. Her mother referred to her work as ‘Dana’s little hobby’. At first Dana took it as an expression of interest and would show her the pieces she was working on. Her mother would glance at them and talk about the time she won the school trophy for her collage. So Dana stopped doing that long before her mother lost hold of reality.

Their mother forgot when she was supposed to wait by the phone for Bradley’s call, so she’d sit close to the handset every day. Dana tried to persuade her that she could carry it in her pocket, but her mother didn’t trust that. Bradley’s calls became less frequent.

Dana ran baths, cooked meals and clipped nails.

She kept the trimmings, and stained them a multitude of colours, creating a page of flowers from her mother’s offcuts: bone-thin crocus petals, bursting from layered, green, convex stems.

She never showed anyone but intended to hang the piece on an east facing wall once she had secured a bright dwelling of her own. After the funeral, once everyone else had forgotten.

 

The Seasons of Spring is the second of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

 

There will be another 2 seasons to come so watch this space!

 

 

The Seasons of Love: winter by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #1)

13 Aug

Welcome to the first of 4 FreeSpaces featuring fiction writer Shirley Golden who, over the next few months ahead, will be sharing 4 pieces of fiction around the theme of seasonal love. Here’s her first piece:

 

Shimmering

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The Seasons of Love (winter)

SAD

by Shirley Golden

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He wanted to ride all the time, feel the air, driven tepid by speed. She’d cling to his back and watch scorched wheat fields pass. They’d stop, if she begged him to sunbathe in the grass, pour melted iced water from wet plastic bottles over the other one’s throat. She liked the way the liquid pooled into his jugular notch. They never stayed still for long.

The roads were slimy with heat.

She can still hear the crack and blister of tarmac, the spark of metal and snap of bone on road.

When hot weather descends, she draws down the blinds, turns up the air-conditioning, and retreats from stark chinks of light.

It doesn’t take much to pretend that she’s caught in dead winter’s grasp.

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First published by Visual Verse

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes.  She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.  She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies.

shirleygolden.net

@shirl1001

 

Image: Shimmering Lights on Sumida River by outakuwannabe

 

More soon….

 

Weekend Showcase : Marie Gethins (Writer)

6 Mar

Spotlight

Every Friday, 1 creative, letting their work speak for itself.

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Marie Gethins

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Brigid Painting

 Painting by Brigid Delahunty

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Jeremiah and the Singing Sheep

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A few months after Jeremiah turned the fields around Gallybeg blue, sheep began to sing. People in the village called it singing, but it was more of a hum. Shamie Howlin claimed he heard the chorus to O’Donnell Abú one night when he took a short cut home from the pub. However everyone knew better than to trust Shamie’s opinion.

Jeremiah arrived one April with a long beard and an orange tent. “A New Age blow-in,” my mother said, shaking a finger at me. “Now lad, don’t get too familiar.” By the end of his first week, she puzzled together enough information to serve Jeremiah’s life story with my father’s Saturday steak. “Brains to burn, degrees coming out his ears. He’s here to set-out those wind turbines.” She poured pepper sauce across his meat and potatoes, tapped the metal spoon against the pot. “From Kentucky—so they say.”

The wind turbine project pleased almost everyone in Gallybeg, bringing with it a handy cash injection. A protest group from Dublin came down a few weekends until a bull got loose and chased them through the village. “If we had the climate for tomatoes, it would be as good as Pamplona,” my father said. But we could only grow grass and by the look of the livestock, even that didn’t seem to be doing so well.

Part of the preliminary crew, Jeremiah took measurements and pounded sticks into fields marking off access roads and tower bases. He said that he liked to live close to nature. Although the company would pay his expenses for a city hotel and commute costs, he preferred to pitch a tent near the construction sites, landowners permitting.

Jeremiah’s orange tent became a regular fixture and feeding him a competitive sport. It began with a sandwich pile and tea flask, but stakes rose to a full Irish breakfast and hot dinner by farm number three. When he arrived at our place, my mother pinned meal plans and a baking schedule to the kitchen curtains. My mother decided she couldn’t cook, bake and deliver, so my father and I shared the task of bringing Jeremiah his meals.

He had an easy way of speaking: slow and gentle, leading you along. Philosophy, engineering, nature, mythology—Jeremiah covered them all, mixing one with another. Often I couldn’t tell my mother what we had talked about, only that I agreed with him. One evening my father and I shared a warm apple tart and tea with Jeremiah while the ewes and lambs nibbled around us.

“That’s hard dining.” He motioned towards the flock with his fork. “Ryegrass, what’s the variety?”

“It’s a mix,” my father said. “Irish seed mostly, but I was thinking of trying a bit of Italian next.”

“Italian ryegrass? Wouldn’t you consider Poa? Works real well back home. Poa pratensis, Kentucky bluegrass. Those sheep would be so content they’d sing.”

My father shook his head and laughed.

When the construction team arrived, Jeremiah moved onto his next job, but he said he’d return to Gallybeg before the wind turbine commissioning. Although everyone had stared at Jeremiah’s stick outlines for several weeks, big machinery churning up the fields came as a surprise. The post office, petrol station and pub buzzed with complaints. My mother put away her recipe cards and told me to stay well clear of the crew. From my bedroom window I watched the white towers rise, giant fingers pointing to heaven. On rainy days, they broke the grey clouds into marshmallow pillows and when the sun came out, clinging drops glimmered on their sides. With rotors fitted, the turbines became a line of fairground pinwheels waiting for God to blow. My father heard the electrics still had to be wired up.

The heavy works crew left and after a few days Jeremiah appeared. We walked around the wind turbines with him, our wellies sinking in the muck.

“Not a blade left in the field,” my father said.

Jeremiah stroked his beard. “I believe there’s a reseeding contingency in your contract. This could be an opportunity my friend.”

Two weeks later several sacks of Kentucky bluegrass seed came by special delivery. My father covered them with old blankets and locked the shed. When he deemed conditions were ideal, I helped him plough the field and spread the new seed. Soon tufts popped up. A mixture of green and teal blades surrounded the wind turbine bases and covered the soil. When seed heads appeared, the land turned a blue tint in twilight. The ground firm, we moved our flock into the wind turbine field. The sheep rustled through the new coarse grass, happy to dine on the American gourmet fodder. We started to notice other Gallybeg fields the same shade as our farm.

Commissioned at last, the wind turbines began to rotate. Regular rent payments arrived from the energy company. My father talked about building a new shed, my mother a conservatory. Reporters interviewed farmers, photographers snapped shots of white wind turbines and fluffy sheep against bluish fields.

Summer rains shifted into autumn frosts. On a clear November night, my father and I checked on the flock. An orange harvest moon hung heavy in the dark sky, stars scattered like bog cotton around it. A rhythmic hum grew louder as we approached the field.

“Do you hear that?”

My father nodded. “It must be the sheep.”

“What?”

“Jeremiah said that grass would make them sing.” He slapped my back and chuckled.

That winter noise pollution protestors from the city went round the village asking people to sign their petition. They wanted the wind turbines silenced. “But the wind turbines are silent,” the villagers said. The protestors passed around leaflets on infrasound, asked about headaches, nausea and tinnitus.

“Don’t you hear that hum?” one said. “How can you sleep?”

“Ah that’s just the sheep.” My father handed back a leaflet. “They’re so happy with the Kentucky bluegrass they sing for joy.”

A CD and a letter from Jeremiah came with my father’s latest seed order. The cover had a picture of him outside a tent, beard plaited, a funny looking guitar in his lap. He wrote that he’s started an Ashram in the Appalachian Mountains and plays bluegrass music on the sitar for the local wildlife. Next birthday I’m going to ask for an orange tent and when I’m older, I’m going to grow a long beard. In the meantime, I play the CD for our flock, a background hum in harmony.

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Biographies

Marie Geth­ins’ work has fea­tured in the Litro, 2014 NFFD Anthology, Flash, NANO, The Incubator Vin­tage Script, Circa, Firewords Quarterly, The Lamp, Control Literary Magazine and Word Bohemia. She won or placed in Tethered by Letters, Flash500, Drom­i­neer, The New Writer, Prick of the Spindle, Sen­tinel Lit­er­ary Quar­terly and 99fiction.net. Marie is a Pushcart and Best of the Short Fictions Nominee. She lives in Cork, Ireland, working on her MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.

https://twitter.com/MarieGethins

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 Artist:  Brigid Delahunty:

Award winning artist Brigid Delahunty’s work reflects upon the different shapes of man-made objects built or left in the landscape with their random presence creating a new perspective and incongruity in the environment. Each scene is individual and fictitious with a narrative approach that emphasises a sense of emptiness and isolation. Contact info: https://brigiddelahunty.wordpress.com/

 

If you would like a Weekend Showcase please do get in touch via the contact form on the What’s On Page or via the comment box.

 

 

 

 

‘North by West Midlands’ Part 2 by Louise M. Hart (Poet) FreeSpace #1

3 Mar

Angel of the North

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North by West Midlands, Part 2

Except Yourself

by

Louise M. Hart

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I travelled north to learn how to be free
But the shrieking gulls delivered my spirit
To Nemo’s tomb
Buried beneath 20,000 leagues of despair
Under a doom sated sea
A fisher of souls, swept to her watery demise
By waves that tempted my mind
And stung my watery eyes

Lapping the frail shore of my bored
Consciousness
I roared from the depths
Of my soul’s new found distress
And swallowed the sea water’s acrid foam
Like a fleet of melting acid ice cream cones
My thoughts nourished by the taste of its cool duplicity

Being caught between the to and fro
Of my unique soul’s existence and human homogeneity
I had become invisible, both on land and sea
Like a single splash of water on a pier-less shore
Depositing no residue of my life or piteous form

One day, I stepped into troubled waters
Where I witnessed rising from his/her liquid bed
Like Poseidon’s changeling son/daughter
The angel of the north
Who spoke to me, “It’s not so bad, up here, with the haggis
And the local beer
Better rain upon a sunny head
Than sun shining beyond a mind
That is dull as lead”
“Like mine,” I screamed
“It is not your home location,” S/he equivocated
“Inducing your mental rot
Your soul is sick
For existence has failed to offer you a role
In this season’s production
Of the dominant model
Of the anti-social whole
This is not how life should be…
This is not how life should be”

Angel of truth
Lancelot, inhabiting a nautical incarnation
Of Avalon, for the guiltless generation
Riding against the tide, with limbs of lace and leather
Your presence warmed my heart
Like rays of sun in wintry weather
Words slid from your tongue
Like a gentle elixir
I drank them slowly
And let them fix me

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Part 1 is here

 

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You can find more about Louise and her poetry here:
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Louise will be returning for her second FreeSpace on Wednesday 22nd April.

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*’FreeSpace’ offers creatives or groups 3 slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken up in a cluster or in a sequence over a period of months. They can be used for further showcasing, self-expression or for projects.

If you are interested in FreeSpace, don’t hesitate to get in contact via a reply box, or the form on our What’s On’ Page or via @ArtiPeeps

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