At the moment I am working on something special: writing inspired by art for QAGOMA. Later on this year my writing will go in display in the gallery alongside the art works.
The process so far has included exploring the art in the Australian Collection of the gallery and absorbing the atmosphere the art is displayed in and finding out the parameters of the project from the Engagement staff.
I am hoping to use some of my writing for children background in the works, and considering the way a narrative might weave stories out of the art works as well as employing poetic techniques in my response work.
As part of this journey I have been researching the works, their artists, and the intentions and materials of the artists. This is easy to do via the captions with the work, and the website of the QAGOMA which is packed with information, and sometimes includes things like video interviews with the artists.
That’s all I can say for now but will let you know when the writing will be on display and would love to know who has seen it and what their responses are.
I am very excited to be part of a project were different art forms inspire each other.
Below are some of the things inspiring me so far – but for the rest you will have to wait. I have written a first draft of a number of pieces, and now I am planning a return trip to the gallery.
If you have ever been to an art gallery for inspiration for your writing do let me know.
This week I have been playing with metaphors. Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.
Some metaphors have been so used that they have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity. I have to strive for originality. But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.
I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.
My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside camps (prisons?) and separated from their children.
Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be trusted to make their way through.
There are famous walls, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall (which one day came tumbling down) and literary walls, like Humpty Dumpty’s wall which he fell from.
As for doors, literature is full of portals, doorways, that take us elsewhere. Often the doors are hidden and disguised, just think the magic wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. But there is also the entry to the magical places of Harry Potter at the station, Hogwartz can’t be reached without knowing how to go through the portal.
Now how does one make ones way through a door, I think of the Trojan Horse.
My mind begins to think do people still fear the Trojan Horse, and has this somehow rid people of compassion. They think that everything must not be what it seems, but is always in disguise; a disguise that has bite, a disguise that will destroy.
So now with some of this thinking done, I have some things I can allude to, some ideas about gates and doors, some emotions I want to draw on, and a current happening in the world that frustrates me and I hope we can change.
Now for a poetry first draft to bring this all together.
the Trojan horse
Somehow this horse is a boat or a truck full of people crying
It can’t be real it is just a tool to make us open borders
We won’t be fooled We must protect our citizens
Oh for a portal to freedom a falling Berlin wall and all the Humpty Dumptys falling down, down, down
toppling from the wall they installed
Oh for a portal to compassion hidden somewhere in that wall that is going up, up, up, up
When will you believe what you see is not just a trick and when will we all sing a welcome song?
I’ll keep working on this poem and see what eventuates.
It is a beginning and I am working with this one to let the subject dictate the shape and direction of the poem.
Questions I ask myself after a first draft like this:
Am I being a little didactic (lecturing) here? Is that okay?
In what ways can I improve the poem’s lineation?
Can I think also about protest songs and bring their intertextuality in ?
Will this poem be part of a series of poems?
What other research, including visual research, can I do to reflect on gates, doors, walls etc?
Butterflies on the wall, a new creation by artists
calls the People of this city to turn towards
the spaces beyond
“Darkness hath encompassed every land, O my God, and caused most of Thy servants to tremble. I beseech Thee, by Thy Most Great Name, to raise in every city a new creation that shall turn towards Thee, and shall remember Thee amidst Thy servants…”
-Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations
(c) poetry words and image June Perkins. This first appeared on Nineteen Months
I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.
I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!
I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s Writing Experiments.
I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.
I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.
Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have…
I have found that social issues have been preoccupying my mind; foremost amongst these: domestic violence. I think of the people suffering this in silence. I wonder about those of us who might find ourselves bystanders. What can we do when we suspect this happening? This is the first draft of my first poem on this topic. In this one I am concerned to ask the ‘victim’ what do you need me to do. This first poem I wanted to be plain speaking, direct address to the victim What do you want me to do? I think there will be more, as I do more background research.
Tell me how to help you
I see you look so sad
I can see it in your eyes
The way he makes you lie
I can see the strong control
He makes me stay away
Yet I want to be your friend
And if you want
help you runaway
But this week there are bruises
You ran into a door?
I feel this can’t be true
I feel it in my bones
Tell me how to be the friend you need
Not making you leave or stay
But simply feel that
whatever decision made
You know you will be
Maybe I know a phone number
A safe house
A social worker
You can go to
Maybe I call the police when
I hear violence through the wall
Maybe I make the call
And stop being a bystander
Who in the future feels guilt when the
Truth comes tumbling out
Flashing lights of ambulances
Reporters interviewing neighbours
And people saying,
‘If only someone had helped’
‘We never knew’
‘They always seemed so happy’
‘ . . .Well most of the time, but
there were signs’