Patchwork Poem Project, 2013

Patchwork Poem Project, 2013
Bristol Poetry Institute,
fundraising for the Alzheimer’s
Responding to the connection between production and poetry – poiēsis –
this project is about making poetry.
The aim is to make a poem a tangible object.
The poem itself – a collection of words with rhythms and meanings and
metaphors – will emerge in the form of a patchwork of words put together and
collectively re-arranged into something resembling a poetry.
Textile asks for a different way of reading, a different way
of writing, a different way of making meaning
Image by Dominique Browning,
My purpose is to tell of bodies which have
been transformed into shapes of a
different kind. You heavenly powers, since you
were responsible for those changes, as for all else,
look favourably upon my attempts, and spin an
unbroken thread of verse, from the
earliest beginnings of the world, down to
my own times ...
Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.1-5, translated by Mary
Quaker Tumbling Block Star Quilt, created by Dr. Sarah Taylor Middleton Rogers,
New Jersey (1852) from the American Museum, Bath
I said to Poetry: “I’m finished
with you.’
Having to almost die
before some weird light
comes creeping through
is no fun.
‘No thank you, Creation,
no muse need apply.
I’m out for good times –
at the very least,
some painless convention.
Poetry laid back
and played dead.
until this morning ...
Alice Walker,
from I Said To
adire eleko, Nigeria, c1970s (women’s wrap dress), from the Textile
Museum of Canada, (ID T94.2139)
it is simple
do not strive to
do not strive to
do not strive for
do not strive for
do not strive
for power
do not strive
for love
un-do painting
un-do riting
un-do life
Billy Childish, from the 1st
green horse god has ever
made poems 1996-2004
Rugged up for winter snow
you have put your bodies where
your hearts are ...
against the gates and
under the wheels of war.
Like you we sit
on the doorstep of the world’s end
and will not look away.
The people long to know
something is indestructible.
It may only be you
Wendy Poussard, Greenham
From Greenham Common Peace Camp, 1981-2000 (image from
... Joy and Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine...
William Blake, from Auguries of
Newport Froliking People Sampler, created by Hannah Taylor, Rhode Island,
1774, from the American Museum, Bath
This is really the story of a
sista who was very too-ge-tha
in everythang but life. You
see she was so too-ge-tha
she had nothang but
strife. Everyone thought
because she was so
too-ge-tha she didn’t
feel pain ...
... She finally
concluded there’s no earthly
use in bein too-ge-tha
if it don’t put some
joy in yo
Sherely Anne Williams,
House of Desire.
Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle Action, Footscray, Melbourne 2008, from
My reason which was once severed,
Cut into unconscious divisions,
Hidden in maladroit madness;
Is now returning with a bounce.
Welcoming the spring’s green trees
Which promise a new soundness of mind
And a new beginning from the little I have left.
Margot Jordan, Hidden Reason
Cynon Valley Tapestry, Aberdare c2000, from the National Needlework Archive
Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern, the word En-masse.
A word of the faith that never balks.
Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely.
Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself , 23.
Image from
I'm not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don't prefer one "strain" to another.
I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says "That's
not like Frank!", all to the good! I
don't wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart-you can't plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.
Frank O’Hara, My Heart
from Knitting With Nietzsche, Bristol 2013
I handed my teacher a poem,
‘This is not a poem,’ he said.
‘It has no form,
Your lines are unpoetic.
Silence is nearer to truth
Than your written thoughts are to verse.’
Feeling I had betrayed my learning
I laboured through the years to perfect my
Wishing for the day when my teacher
Would recognise me as a poet.
Now I have little conversation left
I wonder if I handed this poem to him
Would my teacher clasp me to his breast
Or who he send me backwards in my craft
With the proclamation:
‘Silence is nearer to truth
Than your written thoughts are to verse.’
Margot Jordan, Silence is Nearer to Truth
Radical Hospitality (patchwork quilt), by Jemima Wyman (2012) from Piecing
Together Core Concerns, Brisbane
... I love you. I love you,
but I’m turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.
Words! be
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,
and I’ll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
for poetry.
Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick
with bloody blows on its head.
I embrace a cloud,
but when I soared
it rained.
Frank O’Hara ,from Mayakovsky
Sheila Pepe, Bus Lines, 2006 World Financial Plaza, New York
Three Women, dressed in white, wreathes around their heads.
Three women, sitting spaced around a spindle.
Three Women, the Fates – Daughters of Necessity –
Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos.
Three Women, they sang in harmony with the Sirens.
Lachesis singing of the things that were,
Clotho of the things that are,
and Atropos, the things that are yet to come.
Plato, The Republic X. 617c