Tag Archives: people

London, July 2016

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Frame me here
pin me to this evening
of summer dresses and topless
joggers running from business
into a bustling busy city
that wakes at the close
that gathers its strength
that swipes the day clean again
loses its filters and sheens
that walks close to its lovers
its friends its followers
make this night a hashtag
make it viral in its living beating buzz
make it sing make it dance in the street
make it jump to reach its signs:

the world is not ending
any time soon
we have more nights to write
more walks to write
more books to write
more smiles to write
more plans to write
more to write
than we possibly can
in just this one worldful

140story – Summer continued

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This is almost a companion piece to Angles.

Turn the Page

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She watches them run through the pages
the images flowing beneath them,
hands touching the story.

She reaches out, a new
tenderness rushing through her skin.

She watches the ink singing
on the paper on their fingertips,
plots swirling under digits
lines spoken without sound
– she stops.

She plots, weaving into the
chapter this reading
this flowing of paper trails
and cuts to new scenes.

She is a reader, and can flesh out
characters only perfectly flawed
on the page, turn them into
whatever she can imagine
until they adapt to another vision.

She knows the twist turning in the wound
she sees the knot in the thread
the heart of the matter
and lets it beat.

She knows a book can end
as inevitable frames close the scene
lines are drawn and quartered
covers tucked in for an early sundown.

She knows a book can hold
lists and how-to tips and a universe of
suggestions and revisions and pages upon
pages upon pages of the kind
of words that are meant
to help and heal and soothe.

She knows all this but also knows
that none of it really helps
to turn a new leaf
start a chapter anew
and read further than the words
The End.

Except for her to pick up
another book,
or the same book perhaps
turn it round in her hands
and begin, again.

Comics Zen and The Art of Convention Going

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This weekend (14th-16th November) will be my sixth Thought Bubble Festival as a volunteer (redshirt – we proudly reclaimed the word from ill-fated Trekkies). I have been behind the scenes at two Lakes International Comic Art Festivals, two Auto Assemblies, moderated online communities, chaired panels, talks, conferences, am active in ‘public engagement’ (what universities call ‘getting out and talking to actual people for a change’) and attended multiple events of the comic book and media industry type as a punter. I enjoy what I do, and do it freely, in my spare time, passionately and mostly for free (and for the red t-shirt; there must be something in the dye).

I am also aware of a high number of convention etiquette posts from professionals, exhibitors, fellow fans, first-time goers and bored companions (partners, relatives, offspring, pets, stuffed cryptozoa). Personally, I think Dan Berry’s 2012 list is a great resource, along with Luke Surl’s illustrated version for exhibitors. There are plenty more out there, but some tend to be fairly condescending and patronising, even in their tongue-in-cheek style (or maybe because of it). So please take what I say here as tips and suggestions, rather than commandments or recommendations. As a volunteer, I have seen many a visitor storm off disgruntled because they were unable to get a sketch, a signature, a book, a handshake – and it’s not always the event’s fault.

Talk (if you can) – This can be really hard. Emotions run high when meeting your idols, and you might not be comfortable with crowds, small spaces, public speaking or eye contact. That is fine. Creators know that their fans come in all types of person and species, and everyone gets tired/stressed out/overwhelmed at times. If you need help, call upon a redshirt. We’re there to help.

Be Nice – Following from the previous point, if you can’t bring yourself to face someone or speak to them, be nice in any way possible. A quiet thank you, a timid smile, nods, adoration in your eyes. Let the exhibitors know you’re interested in their work if you are, don’t diss them if you’re not. Everyone there is passionate about comics; that’s a whole series of worlds in common. Be nice to other visitors. Be nice to exhibitors. Be nice to staff and volunteers. And be excellent to each other.

Look at Everything – Take it all in. The Big Names are not the only names, and they’re only big to the people who think they are. Make sure you take a stroll through the smaller tables. I have met some of my favourite people in the world by wandering around the halls closing off queues and bringing water or food to exhibitors.

Be a True Fan – So you have all the issues a writer has written, you’re on first-name basis with them, and you’ve seen them multiple times. Excellent! A lovely place to be in! But don’t overdo it. Some people have travelled very far to only attend an event for the day, have less money to spend, less time and may be extremely intimidated by everything going on. Give them their space and time. Don’t be greedy. And don’t for one second think there is such as thing as a fake-fan.

Be an Alien, or, Enjoyable Queueing – Yes, you will have to wait to meet some of the guests. Yes, it can take a while, and it will be boring after a bit. Solution? Use all of the tips above: talk to others in the queue; talk to exhibitors you are close to as you move closer to the aimed table; take in the convention area; plan the rest of your day; if you’re in a group, use supermarket tactics. And most of all..

Don’t Panic – Douglas Adams was bound to make it here at some point. Alas, you might not be able to get everything you wanted done. You might miss a panel. You might be too late for a sketch. The guests might be very tired, unable to make it at all or late. It happens, unfortunately (Kurt Vonnegut? Kurt Vonnegut: So It Goes). But go back to three points above, and look at everything else. You’ll find something you didn’t even know you were looking for.

There are a number of other really important points, such as keeping hydrated and nourished, respecting people’s boundaries, social norms, be mindful of children and event rules and regulations, including personal safety. Some of these are covered by common sense, others by explicit policies such as the SDCC and NYCC ones. All should be kept in mind at all times. My list is simply an addition to those guidelines.

NaPoWriMo Day 11 – Findings

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But is it —?
Is the question of knowledge
of the first definition of literature.
It could be a laundry list,
her recipes wouldn’t be,
moving through historically
would be the question
not the matter of reading:
only certain things are admitted.

You’ve also got this word literary
which doesn’t get you very far
but an automatic selection:
this person has literature,
do you have French?
This weasel word literary,
the realm of letters or books,
two is the process
three is the product;
but the question you’re burning to ask,
educated to a certain level,
being told what’s good
in the particular generation –
it would exclude poetry.
If someone’s gone through the trouble
– may I pass round,
shall we just talk through
(rather – jolly good)
(and yes yes).

A spiritual offering:
the depth of a shopping list
if it’s about to launch.
It starts out with we
it can swallow other
fifteen minutes,
you don’t get that in
whole sets of
judgement of the
criteria of the
familiar.

The reveal:
a property, how we read it,
we can find elements;
today we would not,
conventionally.
The product of labour
presented as a question:
is it literature.

Does it make sense? Not that much, really, but still a lot more than I expected. This is a found poem, based on overheard bits of today’s UEA Café Conversation, titled ‘But is it Literature?’. Much as the session itself, the poem ends at the beginning, inevitably.

NaPoWriMo Day 12 – Fiumi II

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Erano tue le acque straniere
contate nel flusso continuo
di lacrime e sangue dei tuoi compagni?

Era tuo il compito di tessere
le fibre universali
in un’unica, tragica storia?

Erano tuoi i ricordi
di schiene curve sui campi
e braccia stanche?

Era tuo il ramo spezzato
tuo il sasso frastagliato
tua la giovinezza riarsa?

Era tuo il dolore
di non appartenere
di non sentire
di non credere?

Quante altre storie
sopravvissute, mai scritte
affluiscono allo stesso fiume?

 

——
Credits
This is a response to Giuseppe Ungaretti’s I Fiumi, from a prompt by Jo Bell.

Risposta a I Fiumi di Giuseppe Ungaretti, su un’idea di Jo Bell per il giorno 12 di NaPoWriMo.