my version

I was having a conversation about the Vietnam War this morning and I was told how, out of all the stories one heard of the atrocities, you would know which ones rang true because those stories would contain very little emotion on the part of the narrator. Another way you could tell they were real would be from the lack of Hollywood endings, of dramatic rescue missions and of redemption in the face of evil. In reality, very little of that kind of stuff actually happens; bombs are dropped, soldiers fight, civilians get caught up in the fighting, people die, soldiers come back from the war shellshocked and unable to fit back into society, other victims are forgotten; so Life goes on.

I wrote my first pamphlet during a very traumatic event in my life and after it was finished, I looked back on it and observed how lacking in emotion it was. I thought this was because fundamentally, deep down I must be a very un-feeling person but after hearing about these stories from the Vietnam War I realised I had disassociated myself from the situation just in order to survive it. It helped me to understand the particular way I recorded my version of the trauma. And above all I had highlighted how in fact, Life just does keep going in its quiet way.

Saying that the poet was lacking in emotion whilst writing the pamphlet is not quite true however; yes, the poet was emotionally distant all the way through – to protect herself and those around her – until the last line of the last poem. That is where the breath catches and the reader must take it in very slowly, as the line is in fact, written backwards. This has the effect of making the reader stop and take stock of the whole sequence. It is at this point, when everything is said and done, the sequence is almost finished and we’re asked in the very last act to move physically backwards along the line, that a small drop of sadness is allowed to appear, a small chink in the armour of the trauma is allowed to open.

And it is at this place, I invariably start to cry. It is almost as if re-reading the moments I spent with my brother before he died are as much trauma as the real event itself and to draw again and again to a close by reading slowly back along the last line of the pamphlet is always the saddest thing. The poem sequence has a life of its own, it is an entity its own right; it has the power to evoke emotion through its lack of emotion, it has the force to deliver a certain kind of quiet promise– and even though life does go on and there are no Hollywood endings to stories such as this, at the end of the day, this particular story is undoubtedly and can be nothing but, real.


Ordinary in the mythic is not a by word for decency, upstandingness, imagination, compassion, community-mindedness, not at all. That’s exceptional. That’s high currency.

Ordinary in the old tales usually takes the form of the two false-brothers or sisters – fearful, unthinking, mean spirited. That’s the “ordinary” in a folktale. Ordinary can be very cruel, not good Hobbit folk sipping an ale. That’s what needs to be broken through for soul to enter the situation. It’s the malaise that needs to be overcome.

In the old tales it’s the one that bends their head to the Otherly, or the strange, or the outcast that gets led to the water of life and so proves redemptive to culture. I believe Christ did something similar.

Your books matter. Your activism matters. The things that claim purchase on your heart matter. They absolutely do. They are not a whimsy. If we have been wandering in an enchantment then here is an awakening. You are absolutely needed.

There’s nothing “ordinary” about decency, courage under fire, compassion, tenacity, lion-heartedness, and that is what is being called forth in a moment – a deeply mythic moment – like this.”

from here

air france vol 279 5h 34m remaining

Watching my family flyingback from Japan on the screena bluesilkenthread curving through dark skies brightening high over RussiaHimalayaMongolia plaiting across the globefilling in webbings of spiders connecting3 small bodies outof 2million people up there in the rarefied air of the stratosphere3 of my familyof me at 30,000 feetin a glass globe suspended astrolaberight in this very momentnow thousands of miles away somethings keeping it upamongst thousands of other threadsparachuting around the curve of the earthfloss caught on phone linescommunication interruptedhow far can spiders fly?Further than airplaneson the map sky roads traverse the apogee of lightnow humming along the homestrait I think about them sleeping orwatching a movieover the wingthe drone of machinery lulling them to sleepA strange symphony scalar interferencecaught on the cable FireWire directing 200,000flying spiderscrawling a webline across the worldtimebombs they never seem to be moving beatdrop whine as the plane lowers an octave Orbitscloudsvapour trailscargoMetal platesjet enginesMountain peaks chalking a line slightly right of otherscrossing in strange telematry

Witches are agents of disturbance within the symbolic order

By its very definition, magic has always referred to outsiders, others, and those whose practices and beliefs run contrary to Western orthodoxy.

More and more frequently, we’re seeing contemporary artists utilize the methodologies of witchcraft in their practice, largely because, by its very nature, witchcraft is a political and creative act commanding power back into the hands of people who have historically been banished from the inner circles of cultural authority.

According to critical theorist and witch icon, Silvia Federici, during the inquisitions of medieval Europe, folk healers were often persecuted. These witches cum female healers “were expropriated from a patrimony of empirical knowledge, regarding herbs and healing remedies, that they had accumulated and transmitted from generation to generation. This,” she continues, “was the rise of professional medicine, which erected in front of the ‘lower classes’ a wall of unchallengeable scientific knowledge, unaffordable and alien, despite its curative pretenses.”

“The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, and caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability, fragility, and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it; to protect each other, to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care.”

Fundamentally, magic is about power, and both art and witchcraft still have it, although the form may be different than most of us have been taught to recognize.

from here.

“I feel like I’m getting more anonymous,” ~ Alice Oswald

Been slinking away from world again slinking back to bushes undergrowth trying to imagine life without electronics without screens without invisible connections imagine myself Virginia Woolf Keats Alice Oswald sitting next to flower borders at Kew underneath a tree a quill listening to a nightingale in a cold shed ink pen in hand screwed up papers thrown in corners I often suffer from information overload when caught in the net too many things rolling around electronic overdose it’s all too much I turn off the machine go outside you can write better poetry when you are disconnected from electronic stuff people make money from offering retreats in far-flung isolated places no internet they’ve got the right idea people want it the work of MacGillivray her performance pieces listen to her music read her poetry a woman totally rooted in real-worlds totally connected to surroundings to myths stories to music of witch-crafting to memory to history not part of mechanical publishing industries not got caught up in not connected to but howling slinking away to some bush create a métier all her own too easy to get embroiled in flashy outwardmoving to be retracting inwards become anonymous

leaf litter

How strange and exciting it is to invent a new language; to play with snippets of existing words in order to create new words that (may go some way to) describe things you see in nature but struggle to articulate. This is where I feel poetry can move towards painting – by utilising palettes of infinite letter combinations to create a world no longer hampered so much by the limits of language. In fact, I actually went a step further and leant upon painterly vocabulary to write about the leaf litter I came across on my walk last week. I felt like I was mixing a Pre-Raphaelite palette of golds and greens, auburns and ochres, russets and browns; spreading them out here and there over the page and adding some brushstrokes of burnished gold leaf, sunlight-tinted ink.

All for the latest task on the Against English poetry school course.