Learning to #dance for Lannigan’s Ball – #Dance House #Dublin #KnowingtheDance

“I stepped out…”

TwineExcited to be heading down to the Dublin for a residential residency at Dance House supported by Dance Ireland from Tuesday-Friday.

The plan of campaign is for Paula Guzzanti (dance artist) and musician Martin Devek and myself to work further on the ‘Knowing the Dance’ performance which has it’s opening performance at Down Arts Centre on the 9 September.

We’ve had some very useful feedback from a work-in-progress performance we had earlier in the summer, and are hoping that we will be able to trial the next stage via the New Movements platform later this week.

It’s wonderful to have this dedicated time and space, with many thanks to Dance Ireland for the support.

‘Knowing the Dance’ is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through their ACES programme, and Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick.

 

 

 

Live in the #Layers – @TopFloorArt #AugCraft17 #Saintfield #KnowingtheDance

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.
                                      Gustave Flaubert
Yet I turn, I turn, / exulting somewhat, / with my will intact to go / wherever I need to go / and every stone on the road / precious to me.
                             (‘The Layers’ extract, Stanley Kunitz)

LayersandReflectionsprogrammesmall

Tomorrow August Craft Month begins – it’s the annual celebration of craft and applied art across Northern Ireland and an amazing opportunity to see, meet and/or work with the finest designer-makers living and working here.

I had a bird’s eye view of all happenings when working on the digital comms side of Craft NI (the originators and the coordinators of the month) and I continue to be staggered not only by the creativity and imagination of the designs but also by the powers of mastery over materials that we call ‘handmade‘.  ‘Angels’ hands‘ was my name for it because I still find it hard to believe a human being actually made what has been made with bare hands. If you happen to be near pretty much anywhere in NI this month check out the August Craft Month programme.

Layers and Reflections @TopFloorArt

A bit of excitment this year for me as there is a bit of a reflection of my work in the ‘Layers’ exhibition that opens at Top Floor Art on Thursday (3 Aug, 7-9pm and on through the month). No making on my part, I add quickly. ‘Live in the Layers’ takes words from Stanley Kunitz inspiring poem ‘The Layers’ (below). The idea of the piece is from my investigations of the moving parts of poems, through the Knowing the Dance project.  Like the child who takes the transistor radio apart to find out how the noise is made, I’ve been digging into the layers of composition that give poems their resonant qualities.

The making part is wonderful and is the result of a conversation with Top Floor Art’s artists and proprietors textile artist Emma Whitehead and fine artist Stephen McClean who is also a sawdoctor. I had the idea of free floating letters of the phrase, like a mobile (not the telephone kind), moving, catching on each other, throwing shadows on the page. Stephen suggested carving the letters from distressed steel using saws – a sort of meeting of his two worlds.  Emma Whitehead ran interference so that the thing actually made sense as a whole piece.  I’ll have photos shortly but couldn’t wait to share the details.

BandBPaperWorkshopIf you are near Saintfield on Thursday eve (3 Aug, 7-9pm), do call in for the preview and the exhibition – including a range of makers of all craft practices and levels of engagement, a solo show by Ruth Walker (Glass), the fabric mountain and the Butterfly Cloud. Get all the details of what’s on at Top Floor Art HERE  

*Images courtesy of Top Floor Art

The Layers

By Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz, “The Layers” from The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz. Copyright © 1978 by Stanley Kunitz.

 

Save the Date: #KnowingtheDance Masterclass (@Down_arts Centre, 9 Sept)

Today, I am putting the finishing touches to the ‘Knowing the Dance’ programme on the 9 September.

In-between & mid-stream in Downpatrick last January

I had the great fortune to work on an extended masterclass with artist, contemporary jewellery designer and choreographer Sarah Warsop in January this year as part of the Knowing the Dance project that I am working on. I’d seen work she had been doing bringing diverse artforms together (not only choreogrpahy and jewellery design), and wanted to investigate her technique with the hope of finding a way to draw out the movement/dance within the poems so as to understand better where the moving parts are in the poems and how to make them work best; creating a middle-place between poetry and dance (this was part of Paula and my work-in-progress), and using the middle place as a ground of creativity in its own right.

Down Art Centre Masterclass

Delighted that Sarah will be hosting a three-hour masterclass based on the techniques we worked on in January at Down Arts Centre on 9th September. The workshop is free to attend and booking will be open shortly.

Liminal 2017

Sarah was the winner of the inaugural Cockpit Arts’ Performance of Craft Award in 2016 has released her new short film ‘LIMINAL’ in 2017. See the video below – find out more about it and her process HERE.

Mound of Down Minotaur – #lettersfromladyn

The mound, we could say, exists in its mounding. This is to think of it not as a finished object, standing on foundations and set over and against its surroundings, but as a locus of growth and regeneration where materials welling up from the earth mix and mingle with the fluxes of the weather in the ongoing production of life. The mound has not turned its back on us, as we might suppose, hiding secrets within its dark, enclosed interior that we can discover only by tunnelling in. On the contrary, it is open to the world. As the ever-emergent outcome of the interplay of cosmic forces and vital materials, the mound is not bulit but grows.

extract from chapter ‘Round mound and earth sky’ from ‘Making‘ by Tim Ingold

MoundofDownPerduranceFor various reasons, I am not doing my usual round of the Mound of Down today, despite the weather being glorious here. Instead, I am considering it as an anthropological proposition. I might have overstated the case when I said that Tim Ingold had covered all of my favourite things in his ‘Life of Lines’ volume in an earlier post.

It seems that my current fascination with anthropology á la Prof Ingold continues with an earlier book – Making‘. I had been slow to read this because of the title (it doesn’t mention lines or being alive) but, in fact it is the backdrop to the ‘Knowing from the Inside‘ work. But more importantly there is a significant part of a chapter on…MOUNDS.

Of course, the Mound of Down is not specifically mentioned – but it is, to be fair, a poster child for perdurance – and of not coughing up much in the way of archaelogically sound information about what the hell it was/is actually all about.

And, of course, it is always work-in-progress. Yes, like it’s brackets – the Down Cathedral and Inch Abbey – it is a little bit fixed in place by our attempts at preservation. But, unlike both edifices, it is a growing thing. How strange it would be if we found that the Cathedral had an extra layer of bricks that nobody could account for in the time between they were and weren’t there. But it would be much stranger if we came back to the Mound – even after a short absence – and found that it was absolutely the same as we left it.

I wrote the below a couple of months ago. I think it will have been May because of mention of burning gorse.  Speedwell (veronica) appeared in the burnt places quite quickly. I also notice – this is in general – that the Mound of Down tends to spit people out. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had about how it should be a big tourist attraction in the town but I always get the sense that the Mound is not over welcoming –  siphoning walkers off by a new gate this season.

It is, I am sure, labyrinthine in its history. It has to be, whether abandoned stronghold or other lost earthworks, because it has centuries of all things of this local world tamping it down, shaping it, mounding it. I’m always surprised – perhaps I’ve said this before – that it’s never assoicated with those that are rumoured to live in mounds.

Mound of Down Minotaur

Everything moves in circles here.

Ariadne keeps count of the turns
with different coloured threads.

Growing by burned gorse
blue veronica. Orange tips

and their black-lace ladies fly
above unconcerned. Who knows

what moves below the surface
of these ancient earthworks.

People come here once, then
don’t come back. Mean to,

ought to, but somehow
don’t make the journey.

Except Theseus who wants
it to be a tourist destination.

He needs it clear of menace –
means to get to the bottom of it.

He beats back the overgrown paths,
but they are moats and lead back

to their openings:
first a small descent,

then spit him out,
and he must start again.

Strange hungers – #lettersfromladyn #KnowingtheDance

-and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.

from ‘That the Science of Cartography is Limited‘ by Eavan Boland

6tag-3088414843-1554372041217788600_3088414843I’ve been writing this in my head while getting my (very late) lunch ready. The title is a misremembered fragment of something that had been said to me about the process of academic research. Something like ‘Strange hungers and unexpected fevers’.. I think it is a famous enough quote but I can’t remember quite how it went.

What do I know?

Part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project has been about getting to grips with movement and ‘the dance’ (in the Yeatsian sense) within my own poems. It has been a few months of strange hungers and even stranger reading material. This is not an academic enquiry, and I am now very pushed to say what kind of enquiry it is at all… Maybe a mix of detective work and a memory of a group of poets, let by Michael Donaghy, trying to find our way back from the local hostelry to a writer’s retreat house across from Inch Strand in the middle of a moonless night without a torch.

Strange divinations, and a lot charcoal (and you get a stick of your own if you become in anyway involved in the ‘Knowing the Dance’ process).

Who knows?

And a reading list in this particular order:

‘The Body has its Reasons’  – Bertherat and Berstein

‘A Poetry Handbook’ – Mary Oliver

‘The Rules of the Dance’ – Mary Oliver

‘Lines: A Brief History’ – Tim Ingold

‘The Singing and Dancing: Collected Poems’ – Ann Atkinson

‘The Dance Most of All’ – Jack Gilbert

‘Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michaelangelo to now’ – Isabel Seligman (in conjuction with a British Museum exhibition of the same name).

‘The Making of a Poem’ – Eevan Boland and Mark Strand

‘The Life of Lines’ – Tim Ingold

‘Knowing from the Inside’ – Correspondences – Prof Tim Ingold

‘A Part Song’ – Denise Riley

‘Knowing from the Inside’ – The Voices of the Pages – Caroline Gatt

Coming Round

Choe Keou. Reanimation point. Located at the base of the nose, above the upper lip. Pinch it hard between the thumb and index finger. Very useful in reviving someone who has fainted, this massage can be of great service while waiting for the doctor.

from ‘The Body Has its Reasons’ – Ancient Foundations – Bertherat and Berstein

I am processing this morning that the words aesthetic and anaesthetic are related – even if it is a relationship of opposites. (see also Kroun Loun – the ‘aspirin’ point – located on the foot). And after a few months of pulling words, text, inked lines, sound patterns, surfaces, sounds etc apart from each and trying to find out where the liveliness (?) is..I think it might be time to concentrate on the writing itself. I have a full work in draft and a few interesting ideas on how to progress and a hundred thousand questions on what it is all about anyway.

Final Words

The opening quote is from a poem by Eavan Boland.  It has a geographical location in the famine roads of the West of Ireland, and, to be honest, there is a part of me that is very uncomfortable taking it out of that context. The poem ends

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pines and cyprus,
and finds no horizon
will not be there.

And yes my hope is, after all this strange hungry considering, that such a line might be recovered and reinstated.

#12NOW (part 2), @WomenAloudNI & @TemplarPoetry Launches at @BelfastBookFest

Belfast Book Festival – what an extended fortune of literary talent, both from here and incoming! Big congratulations to Keith Acheson and all at Crescent Arts Centre for the programme.

Life conspired to keep me at a distance last week but from Thursday of this week, I am in full festival mode! Too many good things but I’ll do what I can. Find the full programme HERE.

I’m delighted to let you know about three events that I’ll be reading as part of:

Thurs – 15 June, 6.30pm @Cresent Arts Centre

Lagan Online presents 12Now: New Original Writers Night 2: I’ll be in the company of  lovely current 12Now-ers Peter Adair, Patricia Devlin-Hill, Paul Doran, David Mitchell and Claire Savage.  A mix of poetry and fiction – and exciting voices. I understand Night 1 was great – so we look forward to continuing in the same spirit. (£4 – book online HERE)

Saturday – 17 June, 2-4pm @Crescent Arts Centre

Women Aloud NI Readathon and Mass Simultaneous Reading: The mighty and growing collective of wonderful women writers ‘Women Aloud NI’ are in full session on Saturday afternoon – with the trademark rapid-fire reading and simultaneous reading. It’s a great way of getting a glimpse of a wide range of writers in a range of genres. (£6/£4 – book online HERE)

Saturday – 17 June, 5pm @Crescent Arts Centre

Templar Poets: The day is fast approaching. A lovely rematch to be launching with Paul Maddern who is showcasing his eagerly awaited latest publication ‘Pilgrimage’ – a complete privilege to be reading with him. I can’t wait to hear the new work! I’m still finding it hard to believe that ‘Night Divers’ is actually really out there. So thrilled to be launching it as part of the Belfast Book Festival.  (FREE – book online HERE). Copies of Night Divers will be available at the launch or available online now at Templar Poetry

Enjoy the Festival – and hope to catch up one way or another!

In-between and midstream – #KnowingtheDance #EvolvingFields

“Where between is liminal, in-between is arterial; where between is intermediate, in-between is midstream.” – from The Life of Lines by Tim Ingold

WP_20170529_15_23_39_ProVery excited to be sharing a showcase space with dancer/researcher Paula Guzzanti and musician Martin Devek as part of postgraduate conference ‘Evolving Fields: Sensoriality, Imagination and Memory’ taking place at Queen’s University, Belfast. We are sharing some of the Knowing the Dance work with some creative engagement for the participants as well.

Within the framework of the Knowing the Dance exploration of the middle place between poetry and dance, this performance/workshop will throw a spotlight on some of the fascinating features of the dance element and how the explorations in our collaboration may inform research practice generally.  While we are still on the arterial route, I think this is going to be particularly useful because dance – like creative writing (never mind the subset that is poetry) – covers a multitude of different approaches and fields of endeavour. Paula’s particular practice is, in itself, a key component of how the converation between us has been developing.

Paula is currently in the midst of a practice-as-research PhD at QUB. In her research, she uses movement improvisation as a philosophical tool, which means that the theories she is investigating and her practice are deeply interwoven. She uses movement to expand her her level of awareness. You can read more about her work and the Knowing the Dance project from this perspective in an interview created to complement the ‘Evolving Fields’ conference programme HERE.

The Conference itself is really interesting with it’s emphasis on the imagination, memory and sensorial perception (but are the latter part of, or feeders to, the imagination – I wonder?) across the humanities.

And I am out-of-my-mind with excitement that the keynote speaker is Tim Ingold (the key-correspondant of all that moves in lines – straight or otherwise – in this lovely world). I’ve just finished ‘The Life of Lines’ – his latest book and it is all of my favourite things and that is all I have to say.

The conference takes place on the 6/7 June. The full conference programme can be found HERE.