Sunday, 25 November 2012
Simon Armitage came onto my radar on The Review Show, as did Tom Paulin and other critics. I picked his book up in the library one time and read an impressive abstract paragraph or so. Just a few lines, but they told me more than enough. I thought two things: who the hell is this guy and where the hell has he been, because so many poets are penning verse which for me takes itself too seriously, tries too hard to be clever clogs literature, and worst of all commits the cardinal sin of not even rhyming. I swear, poetry can be an excuse for just making mad bull crap up with zero regard for the rules we learned at school. Since then I’ve read one of his poetry books whole. One standout poem in particular, Horses, M62, about horses on the M62, was a fave.
When you hear someone speaking/reading, all keen and eager on the first or second row, you are usually distracted by their physical presence (not to mention surroundings). It can be like meeting a celebrity. You take in their posture, their clothing, their jewellery, everything down to their cotton socks. You don’t mean to, but it’s natural. You kind of focus on the lips especially, because they are always moving.
And in doing this, the message can be sidetracked by said distractions. There’s really no need for any of this with Simon. I recommend, if you get to hear him read, to close your eyes. You should close your eyes for him if you close your eyes for anyone. You want to clearly hear every word. Not just with your ears, but with your mind. Listening to Armitage recite with your eyes closed is like being in a very funny abstract movie. Honestly, it is. What a blessing there is a poet out there who can let the words do all the work for him. All the personal image and public persona thingy is a hindrance, to be frank. The words are all it is ever about and if they are magical and hysterical then the mouth behind their stylish cadence becomes almost irrelevant. The person is merely the vessel.
What a privilege to hear undiluted talent spill out from someone so effortlessly. As he said himself, it is all about exposure to people better than yourself so you can raise your own bar to or above their standards. Amen to that amigos.
Thursday, 22 November 2012
It’s been a long six months without making anything. The simple reason is that the idea of clay dust in the kitchen doesn’t exactly push my buttons (sometimes the thought of clay is like the thought of secondhand cigarette smoke*—don’t want to be anywhere near it). Not exactly got a studio in the basement with excellent ventilation either. There’s still half a bag of clay underneath the sink that has been there since the cows came home, untouched, but because it is well wrapped up, and sellotaped in places where the bag has torn, it’s surprisingly still soft and ready when I am.
Finally something was jammed together this week in a couple of hours. Don’t think anything more than three hours has ever been spent on the construction of one piece (painting can take longer). It was not going very well and that familiar urge to suddenly splat it on the floor and start again appeared, but then it found itself and became something just as suddenly. Part of the process is accidental, working with whatever grooves come to light while you are forging a general shape. One thing for sure is that these curvy groovy hand-builds really are unique, as attempts to recreate them exactly the same have failed miserably. A cast would be needed for that, and the idea of plaster anywhere about my person is even worse than clay, and almost as bad as cigarette smoke.
The designs continue to evolve naturally without ever having any real planning. Sculpture is about fingers and clay, not architectural drawings and steel frames. Alien objects by working class hands.
*no offense, smokers, been there.
As you can see in the 2nd picture down, forget fancy glazes...
THE BEST FINISH IS WET CLAY
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Ramsey 'The Master' Campbell's Recenty Used story is also in Black Static #24. In it his central character ambles along hazy hospital corridors containing fog. Ramsey is a keen advocator of coincidence, so he won’t bat an eyelid when he hears that this incurred a similarity regarding one of my own stories from 2006, Emergency Servery, in which a hospital corridor is also described as a kind of ghostly spectral pipeline between one world and another. No doubt it’s been done umpteen and a half times before. In fact, a number of years ago, he admits to having wrote the exact same story as someone else without ever being aware of it beforehand. My own teenage opus was about three people who wrote the exact same books. An almost identical chunk of my novel Slithering Lake from nearly ten years ago now ended up in a movie called Slither (would you stop banging on about it?). But where do plagiarism and coincidence divide?
P.S Ramsey has never read a single line of Dan Brown’s books. Nor me.
~ ALWAYS REMEMBER ~
THE STORY BELONGS TO WHOEVER WRITES IT BEST
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Ever since reading City in Aspic by Conrad Williams in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13, abandoned black gloves have been popping up all over the place, and now that you've read this, they more than likely will do for you too, if not already. Must be some kinda curse thing. Don't freak out about it, just make sure you take a snap of the more interesting ones. It is always wise to check if there is an actual hand inside, though. If there is, dial 999. If it moves, run.
~ ~ ~There's a movie called ASYLUM (1972) consisting of several shorts. The first one is called Frozen Fear and in it a man is confronted by what just may well be a severed hand wrapped in paper. The severed hand belonged to a dismembered body in his freezer; his wife, if remembered correctly. He killed her to be with his mistress. He is calming his nerves with a nice warm whiskey while waiting for his mistress to pick him up from the crime scene and depart for a better life, when all of a sudden this body part is there disturbing his peace, having rolled on up from the basement like something out of Evil Dead 2 (1987). What follows is quite possibly the best reaction to anything in any horror movie ever: He doesn't scream, he doesn't squeal, he doesn't scram. What he does is...well, skip the vid to 6 minutes and 30 seconds to find out. Check the eyebrow as well.