I’m still working from home full-time and rarely going out. I’m not ready to start socialising in person or doing the tourist thing. So, when I recently took a week off work as holiday, I attended lots of on-line classes for creative writing and poetry. One of the common themes is to ask the delegates to respond to a piece of artwork in the form of a poem or short story. Here follows some of the prompts and my responses. All were written within the 5-6 minutes allocated in class. I think it’s a really fun exercise to do – to write without thinking about it too much, read it aloud and get immediate positive feedback.
The poem, ‘Richard’ by Carol Ann Duffy can be read in full by clicking here.
Grant me the carving of my name.from ‘Richard’ by Carol Ann Duffy
This is my response to that poem.
Richard’s Third and Final Resting Place
Respect at last, gentle peace
you would not recognise this
City’s tribute. You’re home.
The Heart of treesby Jaume Plensa
This is my response to the sculpture (if you look closely, you can almost see the word, ‘Nicola’ on his body.)
Swept up under the carpet
a quiet protest
the weight on me to remain true
as he scars my name into his flesh
I am just, trust, a mast, ballast
strong like glue.
The brief was to write a short story in response to the prompt of an animal overcoming adversity.
I eventually found the hamster stuck in a pipe underneath the sink in the kitchen. How he managed to get out of his cage, I’ll never know. Well, I think I do know because the cat was crouching underneath a dining room chair, ready to pounce, and looked guilty as sin. I daren’t tell him off or I’ll get a scratch. Cats are the moodiest creatures I know – worse than any of my children – and I’ve got 3 teenagers.
You wouldn’t believe it, but there are actual YouTube videos on how to free trapped hamsters! I did it – eventually – by sawing the plastic pipe and pouring olive oil down the sides. It was the extra virgin stuff too. He plopped right out, bum first, into the breach.
Maybe I should have got one of the kids to film me doing it. I reckon it might have got a few hits.
The brief was to write a haibun about a journey or place.
Time is static, shocking, jerking me
I’m a tourist attraction in a glass cage.
Friendly, bored pods glide polite waltzes with lost teddy bears.
Waking up, smelling coffee just a sip or I won’t sleep.
it’s too late to go home now
air smells different.
It feels strange thinking about the time before, when we could travel freely. Maybe one day, I’ll be at the airport again. Is this living nostalgia? A yearning for a life we never appreciated at the time? Rites of passage missed? I feel like I’m thriving right now, so I hope that when we do start living normally again, some things will have changed for the better permanently.
My book of the week recommendation therefore combines the post-pandemic world and an airport. The brilliant ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St John Mandel, which is soon to be released as a HBO tv series.
“The more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”
Be a lady
Be a gentleman
Be a human