Talented film maker and poet and a good friend, John has added enormously to my life with his friendship and practical assistance that has, for example, enabled me to keep this blog going for another year (despite recent paid employment induced lapses) by replacing and fine tuning my hardware.
Not an in your face kind of poet, John delivers his verse in a quiet style, that contrasts pleasantly with the way he rabbits and raves on the telephone, but even then he is interesting and witty, or enthusiastic at least. Like many an artist before him, John has his vices, chief of which may be photography, but he has skills, no doubt.
The first piece here, made during the Apples and Snakes / City Eye Poetry Film Workshop Weekend 5 & 6th July 2014, strikes me as a masterly piece of film making
Almost a Poem
And he’s allowed me to share two more pieces.
In This Poem
Music and pictures prominent. But there are some very finely chosen words here.
The Beast of Burnley
Yes, that’ s really him speaking! Showing his Essex roots. However, I suspect that the sculpture was crafted by another, and that John will give details in a comment when he has a moment.
Along with his work John’s attitude to it is something to admire – he’s not in it for the money, but to share the love, man, and other stuff, obviously. So enjoy this special guest poet and I’ll be back to suck the enjoyment right out of you, perhaps as soon as next Friday – I’ve got the weekend off!
As every schoolkid knows
Racism can be fun
But it’s always wrong
Just another kind of name calling
Bullying, picking a fight for no good reason.
Name calling is of course essential
To the educational process
As we learn to call things by their right names
And try to find the answers to all those important questions
While avoiding becoming a show off and/or a bore.
No question has only one correct answer
Context is all, so give an answer appropriate to the occasion
With a suitable amount of detail, no less nor more
And a tone that matches that of the questioner.
Try to follow the best examples when you have questions of your own.
Not providing an answer can seem neglectful or rude
So if you find yourself unable to respond immediately or appropriately
You may be able to gain time by promising to do so at some definite future date
Just don’t expect anyone to wait indefinitely for your response, however great
And keep in mind what has come to be expected of you.
Giving unbidden answers may be welcomed
But, just as questions can provoke a surprising response from you
So the opinions you share may be surprisingly responded to;
Take great care when asserting that an opinion you have is true,
You may think you’re speaking the truth, but where’s your proof?
It’s grand and important to give things a name
To remember where the name is from.
The object, subject or person you name is rarely the same to everyone
So try to be understood and to understand
How best to represent that thing, yourself, who you are and where you’re from.
[Mark Khan is a remarkable artist, musician, friend and now - partly thanks to my influence, I like to think! - poet. The following is an example of his poetry.]
Absorb the Succulence
Feathery meat is in the stockings of wheat
The taste of haste was the arrow in the eye of 1066
The delicate knit in the knights of the Bayeaux Tapestry
Tapping on the sty of the cross bedded pitch for the joy of the hit
Expanding mind or shrinking organs that abbreviate the storm through a bullet holed sieve.
I asked for runner beans if you please,
We must save the pods of the succulent peas
Condor the moment as silence flies above head
Seen not but hovering in the dark of night
How coarse is the bark of an elm tree in the height of winter
The farmer’s garden forever absorbs the succulence in hindsight
The high priestess’s insight, you may or you might
Try to flourish in the height of the tallest strife.
Mark Ullah Khan
[To illustrate this poem, I've added images from the Bayeaux Tapestry and Piers Ploughman, but Mark's own art can be seen in many places, including Southampton's newest gallery https://www.facebook.com/mark.khan.758?ref=ts&fref=ts and he continues to be creative at all levels, at a frighteningly prodigious rate!]
You spend your life defying death
Reanimating the dead as they appear
On screens, in books, in petty details in your memory.
You live in your own little world
Populated by the absent few on your list of favourites
Those you still want to love, impress, argue or discuss things with.
You ignore the living but they are surrounding you
As you all fight on alone for your survival
And the continuation of what you know.
You should look around, see who’s left alive
Still moving, teeming with need
Wanting the presence and attention of another being.
The world of the living is a scary place
But now this is what you have to face.
This clip shows my first (hopefully not last) appearance at Write Angle, the open mic event in Petersfield run by Leah and Jake Cohen, who video every person who gets up and make You Tubes for free! Every month is different and that makes it exciting, as you never know how it will turn out but one thing for sure is that you’ll have a memorable evening.
You’ll be warmly welcomed to their monthly events at The Square Brewery in Petersfield, and you can see more videos of past performers, by David Stone, by visiting their website here: http://www.petersfieldwriteangle.co.uk/
Here’s my contribution as one of the poets involved in this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/673693892683102/, which took place at the John Hansard Gallery last Friday.
Thanks to John Bruce for his help with this, and to Hannah Collins and all at the John Hansard Gallery for organising this event and inviting me to be a part of it.
10th April, 2003
The whole world is going to have to smile
Without any help from me!
I’ve had enough of laughing along with a joke
Which I don’t think is funny!
Nothing makes me laugh any more,
Nothing is funny to me
Because of that horrid girl who didn’t even notice me
I’m not going to play along
With any cheesy let’s pretend we’re not all miserable bullshit
And trading insults does not make the day go by quicker for me
So leave me alone
And let me plan my revenge
Or at least my next meeting
With that maddening girl who never thinks of me
I do not go for walks in the park
Or next to the sea expecting to meet
With any greater kindness than the measly amount
Doled out to me by anyone and everyone
Apart from that miserable girl
Who relishes my pain and denies it exists
And says nothing to make herself more sympathetic
As if sheer beauty alone were enough.
I’m going on like this until someone smacks me in the face
Or perhaps I’ll just break down and cry -
No more than that, because “no one ever died of a broken heart”.
What a great comfort that is!
I won’t die, I will survive, but I won’t be happy, that’s for sure
And if there’s anyone in the world that I’m happier than
It’s got to be that terrible girl who would rather
Cause me pain.
[Beautiful eh? That's the first of a series of 32 line love poems I wrote back in 2003-4, which will be on sale in all ebook formats from next Friday.]
It was a perfect work
That told so much, in such a simple way
A perfect summation of what I wanted to say
Nothing true is new, of course, as the truth is eternal
But I thought the way I had expressed it was somewhat original
Until, on the very same day that I produced this masterpiece
Someone showed me the same thing done better
Expressing more in fewer words
Making my effort seem feeble and trite
It was lovelier than anything I could ever hope to write
Soon to be immortalised in an elegant, slim edition
Full of equally mysterious and moving verse
Read out on the radio, discussed at length and given a prize
Its author the new face of poetry
While my stuff languished in a bottom drawer
Forgotten by everyone but me
And I was left to wonder
Why have I wasted my life?
And then I met that poet, all shiny with success
A nice person, who gave no cause for bitterness
And was kind enough to read my work, and smile and say,
“My friend, we do not compose for others or for today
What’s in you, what you produce will find its way
One day your voice may be heard
By those who need or want to hear it
But each song by man or bird
Takes flight with beat of heart or wing
And the universe grows a little with each soaring note or word.”
Rough on the outside
But very sweet underneath
If you wait.
I hate to wait!
And as a technique for peeling a pineapple
That is considerably less than great.
One cuts oneself with an ill chosen knife
Or can’t get the fruit out of that rough peel.
The pineapple may contain the fruit of life
Must life put one off with that rough feel?
It’s terrible to think what she must think of the way I think about her.
So I asked her, “Name a fruit, to replace your face when I’m using words to search for grace.”
She gave me this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis Physalis? What can I make of this?
It’s like seaweed enclosing Lovecraftian creatures
Each one hidden by its own crispy “Chinese lantern”.
No waiting here, just a nip and a sip
Of fragrance and tang to tease the lip
From Columbia, via Bracknell, then Waitrose (the PM’s favourite shopping place)
A bag of twenty-five making one fruit portion, not much to go on
But that’s the sort of weirdness I’m willing to embrace.