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Funeral Poetry

Like any other sane/unindoctrinated person, I found the funeral propaganda around Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the Establishment’s rush to overwhelm critical thought with the rapid accession of ‘King’ Charles III to be infuriating and risible in equal measure. I am reminded of Picasso’s comment that after a walk in the countryside, he had ‘green’ indigestion and it had to be relieved with a green painting on return to his studio. So the steady stream of mind-numbingly stupid worshipful coverage became so indigestible that I needed to write a funeral poem. Almost coincident with this decision, the former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy published her commemoration in the Guardian, ( Former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy shares poem to mark Queen’s passing | Carol Ann Duffy | The Guardian )  which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be laugh out loud appalling – spoiler alert – it’s a list poem. (At this point I was going to quote a small sample but on re-reading it, the cringe is too great to

Writing: World-Building

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  As per the last blog, the first novel of my post-UK period, The Family Idiots , is near enough finished (just proofing, etc) so I have moved on to writing the next two books, in parallel and (sort of) intertwining: Urim and The Museum Quarter . Contrary to the implication of the title, The Museum Quarter is as much about museums as Sartre’s Roads to Freedom is about living in Paris or Lord of the Flies is about life on an island. Maybe its antecedence is closer to George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual (without the OULIPO). If you watch ‘how to write’ YouTube videos etc. (which I wouldn’t advise), one of the things often extolled is “world-building” your novel, a convincing world for the reader to navigate. The Museum Quarter is not about museums, but there are five museums in its world. Two or three of them are composites of museums I know well, but I wanted a New Art Museum, which needed to be authoritatively contemporary. So rather than conjure up something architecturally unconvi

Writing 2022

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For years while curating and directing Bury Art Museum and the Text Festival, I mostly put my own work on the backburner. My first publication 50 Heads (downloadable version here )  was only written in 2006 because I was able to take a sabbatical, and was mostly written in Iceland, Netherlands, Japan and Italy. This became one of the features of subsequent publications with them written around the world at a creative distance from the day job. My second book was eponymously located in Reykjavik alongside my exhibition (alongside Dan Flavin & Alan Charlton) at Safn. Reykjavik cover Space The Soldier who died for Perspective ( Veer Books ) is even structured in sections identified for the location they were written or installed (Tampere, Berlin, Bertinoro, Melbourne, Budapest, Edinburgh). By the time my Bury projects had reach China my workload was so great that I sort of announced my retirement from writing with The End of Poetry   . So leaving Bury meant I could finally give

Lawrence Weiner

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The sad news this week that Lawrence Weiner has passed away. I first met Lawrence in 2005 when he completed an installation of WATER MADE IT WET on a bridge over the Manchester-Bolton Canal in Radcliffe as part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail and the first Text Festival. (although I had already acquired a public work from him which is installed on the riverbank in Radcliffe town centre). I spent a lovely day with him on the day of the unveiling and then did an In Conversation with him in front of a live audience at the Met - I think I blogged about it at the time. I remember being really nervous because I'd just read the thick volume of Interviews with Lawrence Weiner in which he frequently humiliated interviewers. He reassured me that that was because early on Conceptual Art was targeted by the Establishment and so he was interviewed by many idiot academics and journalists who wanted to show how clever they were. Soon after I went off to write my first poetry collection 50 Heads

Winter with Helmut Lemke

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the WINTER on Vimeo   Helmut Lemke posts ' Winter ', the last in his seasonal art 'lectures' featuring his reading of my specially written poem:  Zugzwang as the Fourth Part registering Transition to Rumours of Winter and End  Transition from rumours of winter, positional to suns rising over there ( points in that direction ) rather than over there ( points in that direction ). Record suns replace cold lyric frost Counting as Drift As Autumn’s pension arrangements are now irrelevant to the quartet. To hang on . . .                                                                                                    to hang on To the field of action mostly taking place at night or winter daylight, passed celebrating the cold last day, The series addition delays to die in the gap, immortal but only by implication, by hope, by leaving the new clear to go on precarious in Queue Theory waking each morning darker our moment of inertia and the failing capacity to self-

Poetry as Thoughtcrime

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The Poetic Imperative in the Age of Surveillance In returning to writing from curating, I find the absence of a unified theory of poetry distracting, especially in these dark times. I have “ Architecture & Now ” (my poem with Maurice Shapero’s architectural drawings) coming out shortly and my hybrid-poetry collection “ Dyer & Mahfouz ” is rapidly taking shape, but a theoretical framework is missing. Thus, I am preparing just that: “Poetry as Thoughtcrime” . This aims to examine the huge existential problem facing contemporary writing and includes my manifesto for what to do about it. The analysis flows from the curatorial practice developed in the Text Festivals from 2005 to 2014. After that, I was creatively focused on the projects in China, which took my attention away from theoretical and practical next steps that should follow from the Text. In retrospect, this post-Text hiatus gave me a parallax view and distance from which my vision for the future could mature.

Conjugating The Verb ‘To Say Something About Extinction’

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This week the Arctic Circle reached the highest temperature ever recorded. We are rapidly approaching, if we haven't already passed, the point where the evidence for climate change is the evidence for extinction. This is my contribution from my forthcoming collection Dyer & Mahfouz . Conjugating The Verb ‘To Say Something About Extinction’ Clapping for Capitalists with Children. Quasicrystalline mannered  Between the amorphous poset of the dead and completely dead. Young birds fly from the nest or fall like discarded beer cans, late  night pizza boxes, young detritus. Tiny delicate birds decathect With or without us, profitcunts bijective to deathcunts reboot exciting joy at new products - a false antecedent and a false  consequent atmosphere overloaded with the vertical electric  charge in the planetary boundary layer of aerosol particles. A picture – foot-stamping won’t help, you can’t swim in your boots. The extreme separation anxiety of our ano