Sky, sea, everything feels too small after the high rhins and broad machars, long beaches and bays of south-west Scotland where I had a couple of days and endless space to think. Strange that we were so far north of Brighton but still south in Scottish terms – borders alter your whole perspective.
I miss the buzzard which daily visits the field at the back of our friend’s house. It’s a juvenile, daft enough to be scared of the foals which lollop through the same field. Will it manage to catch the scraps she throws it, or will the crows and gulls get there first?
I’ve been reading Scottish poet Gerry Loose and Swedish poet Lennart Sjörgren writing about the shifting line between sea and land in Northwords Now (northwordsnow.co.uk). Poems that alter their shape before your eyes. The Otolith Group whose piece is currently exhibiting at Fabrica said they wanted “to show the sea without showing the sea” – this phrase has stayed with me. They filmed Etel Adnan mostly from the back, (to my mind suggesting vulnerability) and said they wanted people to really listen to the words she’s reading. Didn’t want to hand us an image of the sea on a plate, they wanted the audience to do the work. (You can watch the talk on Fabrica’s website: http://fabrica.org.uk/exhibitions )
This brings me to my big question: how much work do you/we want to do as an audience? I’d love your comments on this, as well as answers to the Questions on this blog. This question is fairly central in the development of my work. I’ve been told people like my poems because they’re plain, direct and people can understand them. This is immensely gratifying. There’s a danger, though, of then wanting to carry on pleasing my audience. And it begs the whole question – is a poem something you understand? Etel Adnan’s poems are not immediately easy to understand. I can’t help feeling in that ‘everything happens for a reason’ way that she has been sent to me as a role model of an artist who is uncompromising. She is not trying to win anyone over, her meanings aren’t always clear. Poems to immerse, lose yourself in and that’s exciting. A poem, an artwork is also a space, an experience. In an era of fast food, sound-bites, of a take-away, throw-away, instant gratification mentality it seems worthwhile to create a space where an audience might linger, somewhere a buzzard might grow to spread its wings.