Session Seven – 4th February 2016 – The Belfry Arts Centre

Welcoming the Change Minds group back for the second creative session at The Belfry Arts Centre in Overstrand, for an enjoyable morning of poetry, writing and lots of interesting discussion.

imageMartin Figura, poet and writer, began todays session by reading two poems Strange Boy and I Come From. 

Participants were asked to listen to each poem and choose a line that had some resonance for them.

Strange Boy

We believe there is a one in ten chance
The boy will inherit it from his father
The boy is top in maths
He is near the bottom of the class in everything else
He writes wild imaginative essays with little regard for spelling or grammar
He cries easily
The boy’s house number is Belmont 47 (a prime number)
We know he steals, but are letting it go for now
We also know he smokes
He pulls a face when he concentrates
The other boys have noticed this
The boy is left here during half-term breaks
He occupies himself with dice games of cricket and football that can take days to complete
They are too complex for anyone else to participate in
The boy maintains a number of statistical graphs
He is a good goalkeeper
He has made some friends through football
He has invented an elaborate past
He carries a 1966-67 News of The World Football Year Book at all times
Father William lets him complete his pools coupon
He has had some small successes

By Martin Figura

This poem was written by Martin, which allowed the group to question and understand the poem from his perspective as the poet.

The group identified that the boy in the poem was a bit of a loner, felt like he didn’t fit in through the line ‘he occupies himself with dice games…which can take days to complete’.  The group talked about how the boy in the poem is trying to look at himself from an outside perspective, the way the boy perceived that other people saw him.

We then considered the good things for the boy in the poem, ‘he is a good goalkeeper’ and ‘had some small successes‘.  Also the role of Father William which the group considered to be more of a father figure to the boy, someone who worried and looked out for him.  Martin then read aloud the second poem to the group.

I Come From

I come from a suburb waiting forever
for the train to London
from smashed windows, graffiti,
fog on the platform,
skinheads and fights
if you look the wrong way.
I come from clean handkerchiefs,
dinner money, God
please and sorry one hundred times over,
draft excluders and double glazing.
I come from Chambers Etymological Dictionary,
maths tables, 11+, Look & Learn
an almost complete set of Observer I-Spy books
a family of teachers and yet more teachers,
an Orkney grandfather, a Shropshire grandma
from no accent at all.
I come from kindness
I come from doh-re-me: The Sound of Music
recorders, clarinets, a pianola
all the way from Scotland.
I come from rats behind the garage,
and a man who followed me
back from the library
I come from silence
I come from a garden
from my father mowing the lawn into the dark
from fences, walls, gates and hedges
Cuthberts seed packets, The Perfect Small Garden
from the sound through the night
of trains, trains, trains

By Robert Seatter

A poem that uses the voice of an adult looking back at their childhood.  The group discussed how there is a contrast between the ‘nice and not so nice’. Participants considered the word suburbs and the image that this conjured up for them.  Sounds like a safe, cosy world.  However as soon as you go out of the gate there are threats, people, graffiti and smashed windows.

Discussion about the line I come from silence, where people don’t talk about things to keep the illusion of perfect!   The imagery of the father mowing the lawn and The Perfect Small Garden with thoughts of perfection, a way of keeping the world out, but you have to leave the safety of home and go out into the world!

We learnt that both poems are written in the form of a list with little bits of detail to build up a character.  Martin explained how you don’t need to ‘spell it out’ in a poem, by using imagery and metaphor you can just hint at what is happening.

Martin suggested for the participants to consider this style of writing as a good way to approach the information found in their case study research.  By connecting to the sense of the person in their case study and using imagination to suggest how their life may have been!  Interesting to also decide who will be the voice in their poem, themselves or perhaps the person in the case study?

The group spent the rest of the session using these techniques to produce some writing with some interesting results.

Looking forward to seeing the Change Minds group at The Belfry Arts Centre for the next session on 25th February.