Thursday, February 07, 2019

Selected and collected poems – the book

About a decade ago, maybe longer, I designed – in Quark – a book of poems I'd written in the 1990s; mostly terrible art student angst stuff. I recently found the book on an old hard disk, redesigned and updated it to include some more recent poems, still terrible, but I'm fond of them, so here they are. Yes, I still have too much time on my hands but it was fun to do. Selected and Collected Poems is a 40-page book of poems from 1990-2016. Add it to the list of books I will get printed someday.

For a taster, browse the poems category of this blog; they all make an appearance in the book.

Previously on Barnflakes:
It's a Shame About Ray – the book 
Missed Photos
Alton Estate of Mind – the book
Rashims: the book of Rash
Pulp Poetry

Flickagram #9

Reading In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles has got me reminiscing about Morocco, where I went for the first time in the mid-1990s. The book is a great read, and Bowles is an inspiration: all the times I've been to a place and said I'd like to live there (Stockholm, Bali, Marrakesh, Jakarta, Rangoon, Los Angeles...), but never did, well, Bowles arrived in Tangier one day in 1947 and never left – he died there some fifty years later. Writing letters in those days was a part-time occupation, especially for a traveller like Bowles: all his letters were typed, so he'd lug a typewriter around on his travels, and have his letters forwarded from New York to Tangier to Ceylon (when he lived for a year); letters would go astray; he'd arrive back in Tangier with a mountain of letters, and respond to all of them. Then there was the problem of finding paper and envelopes in Tangier – everything from jewellery to ceramics was easy to find, but anything practical near impossible. Not to mention beautifully written, descriptive and witty letters; obviously in this day of social media and texts, it's a thing of the past. Bowles was one of the last of what one would call a man of letters (though Bowles would disagree, as did Gore Vidal when he asked someone if they'd received a letter from Bowles, then quipped that it probably consisted solely of Bowles saying what he had for breakfast).

What is happening in this photo? Well, the girls had asked for some suntan lotion, and we gave them some. I think this was near Merzouga, a Moroccan village in the Sahara. There was nothing happening in the village, so the girls took us to a nearby lake, which was completely dried out. It was still muddy, though, and there were thousands of tiny frogs in the mud, so many that we couldn't help treading on them, and playing catch with them. There was, of course, amazing architecture in Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi, a huge sand dune in the desert, but I didn't take any photos of those. Plus I only had black and white film, which was stupid.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Paul Bowles: Exile on Maghreb Street
Notes on Black Sparrow Press

Bonnard collage

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Incidental sound subtitles from Netflix’s Power

In a series about NY drug dealers, with motherfucker-this and bitch-that every other word, and the show consisting of sex, violence, lying, betrayal and corruption, it’s hard to find any quiet moments of poetry.

However, we had the subtitles on – partly because we couldn’t understand what the characters were talking about half the time, and partly because we couldn’t be bothered to turn them off once we got the hang of the street lingo.

Helpfully, subtitles also provide incidental sounds such as [grunts], [moans] and [pounding on door]. These sometimes include unexpected moments of poetical detail, which would get taken for granted without the subtitles on, such as [elevated train clanking over tracks]. Well, I thought so anyway. The following is an attempted poem from incidental sounds from two episodes of season three of Power.

engine starts
jukebox sighs
water running
glasses clink
indistinct chatter
zipper slides
speaking spanish
sirens wailing
train sounds fading
tense music
knock at door
bangs table
hairdryer hums
elevated train clanking over tracks
distant boat horn blows
slow jazz plays
swords clanging
buttons clicking
engine turns
metal clangs
sombre piano music

Previously on Barnflakes:
Amazon Prime / Netflix mash-ups