Sant Medir

Well, it’s been a while. And in fact, about a week ago was another anniversary of starting this blog. What does that make it now? Three years? I’ve been away so long, I don’t know.

What have I been doing all this time, you ask? Well, first I finished my bloody thesis, the horrible end of my otherwise quite enjoyable Masters. That explains my lack of posts in January and February – I had no time to write.

But since then, I have done some writing. Most of it started and unfinished, like most of my work, but some done. You see, I’ve been writing for my friend’s website, 52things. The idea is that you create something every week for a year. Doesn’t matter what you create, whether it’s a poem, a cake, a painting or a movie… or, you know, lots of other things. Anyway, I’ve missed 2 weeks, and stuck to the other 14, which ain’t bad. If I miss one more week, I’m OUT. But, conversely, if I produce enough EXTRA stuff in a week, I’ll be allowed to stay in. You can look back through everything I’ve made so far here.

And I’ve been creative elsewhere too – it’s just that that technically counts as my ‘work’ (most of it is unpaid), so I can’t claim it on the 52things site. I’ve been updating the Barcelona Improv Group website (all of that content is my work, by the way), and running workshops, classes, weekend intensive courses…

Anyway, here is a poem I wrote for 52things, eagerly copied here. It’s about Sant Medir, which is a big festival in my neigbourhood, Gracia, and involves a parade with people throwing hundreds and thousands of sweets!

Sant Medir

Lethargy driven out
by thunderous drums
and wailing trumpets:
the Festival of Sant Medir.
Each thump and blart
prods me to be alert,
my calm cocoon invaded
by their exuded jollity.

I wait until it’s safe,
then, bleary-minded, emerge
to a grey apocalypse of candy –
crushed sweets and wrappers
dot the empty streets;
preferring to explore
these remnant roads,
I pick my way past
discards, spares.

Yawn-staggering home
at dark past three,
I sail round the clatter-bang
of the clean up crew,
the sweeping of weary
flourescent-vested women.
There will be order at dawn.

sant-medir-3-de-marc3a7-2008-autor-josep-fornc3a9s-i-garcia-068

Barcelona Improv Group

I’ve been dividing my time into half.

The first half has been going to teaching – planning classes, and writing reports included.

The second half has been my Masters. Just the thesis to go.

And the third half has been my theatre company, Barcelona Improv Group. Within that, I’m planning and teaching workshops, organising weekends away, updating the website, including video links to our new Youtube page, Twitter account, photographs from professional photographers, Facebook fanpage and workshop page, Google Analytics, and updating the list of English language theatre events in Barcelona month by month. All of this is visible at http://www.barcelonaimprovgroup.com. Oh, and of course, performing improvised comedy. And, though it may sound counter-intuitive, rehearsing. (We need to get to know eachother’s styles of comedy, what tricks avoid dead-ends and plot holes, learning accents and stage presence, projection and teamwork.)

Those of you who know maths can see, that is one half too many. But once the thesis is done (mid-February, 2013), I will have a half free for creative writing again. In the meantime, if you want to know what I’m up to, go to http://www.barcelonaimprovgroup.com, poke around, and let me know what you think. Except for the header at the top, it’s all made by me.

 

“Girl Meets Boy” (lesson plan), Guidelines to Improvised Comedy

Well hello again.

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on writing… but CREATIVE writing wouldn’t be accurate.

For the past year, I’ve written essays for my Masters course in Applied Linguistics, and every time I’ve moaned, “but I’m not doing any writing”, people have said, “but you’re writing your essays every week.” Not the same.

As always, being a teacher, I’ve written lesson plans. Mostly they’ve just been simple notes for myself. Recently, I submitted a proper one to a teaching website called Designer Lessons – my article was called “Girl Meets Boy”, and it’s a thought provoking discussion and video class, (with the link here – even if you’re not interested in teaching, the video at the start is worth watching)

And, as I’ve been running nearly every improvised comedy workshop in the past two months, I’ve done a lot of lesson planning for that, too. Even though I’ve been doing improvised comedy for, in total, about 6 years now, it’s only in the last 12 months that I’ve really started to learn how to teach it – mostly through, you know, teaching it. I’m getting pretty good at designing the direction of a class, and what particular points I want people to notice this week.

Continue reading ““Girl Meets Boy” (lesson plan), Guidelines to Improvised Comedy”

Immunity, Teardrops, An Englishman Walks

Well hello there.

I’ll start with a quick bit of self promotion, and get it out of the way. In the past month or so, I’ve gone from co-running Improvised Comedy workshops and putting on the occasional show, to running a theatre company (B.I.G. – Barcelona Improv Group), organising regular shows, venues, promotion, weekends away, creating a website, AND running Improvised Comedy workshops.

The website is here: www.barcelonaimprovgroup.com , and it’s not finished… but it’s getting there. I’m making a little progress every day.

I spent the afternoon on a train to Sabadell to visit a friend (but let’s call her my financial advisor to make it sound more professional), so I got some bits of flash fiction done, and a haiku, and the themes of each one neatly flows into the next… sort of. So I’ll post them in the order of construction. Don’t be too critical – it’s the first time I’ve really gotten much done in all of hot, sweaty August. My brain doesn’t seem to cope well with the heat.

The first is heavily based on something I wrote once before – I apologise if I posted that, and am now repeating.

Immunity

He’d insisted: “When my son is born, we’re not feeding him that medication every day. What if he spits it up? It’s impractical. We’ll give him the injections – he won’t remember the pain.”
Twenty-four hours after the birth, when the nurse entered with the needle, he tried to leave, but his wife held his hand.
Five minutes later, the father emerged clasping his once-again quiet child. “Your first tears,” he whispered, “I caused your first tears in this world.” And he wept.

Teardrops

He stared at the train window; at the rivulets of rain that ran down the glass, gathering weight from the flecks as it fell. His grandmother slept in the opposite seat, her day smile washed off, leaving an exhausted sadness. Her reflection in the glass was half gone, and raindrop tears ran down her face.

a

An Englishman walks
with head held high in drizzle
and doesn’t get wet

Night Email

Just a quick post to say I have a story on it’s way – one I promised way back here – the tale of my encounter with the fox spirit statues at the Inari shrine.

Inari foxes

This story was originally a tale in the original sense – told only orally, and never written down. I performed it last year at Vent!, a life-storytelling event here in Barcelona. I recorded that version, which I’m going to listen to again for refinements, but I’ve just written up the tale as I remember it. It is true… but it still sends shivers down my spine. Hope it will for you too!

And, it’s not my greatest work, but I feel I shouldn’t be posting only news, so here’s a little haiku for you to tide you over:

a

my tired eyes squint –

the screen’s glow the only light

left from this long day.

a

(yes, I know, I shouldn’t write in the dark. But sometimes inspiration takes me after I’ve gone to bed, and typing it is the quickest way to get it down.)

Grandpa

Wow. It’s been so long since I was last here that I mistyped the web address to my own blog. Er… oops.

But Good News, Everyone! My deadlines for my Masters program are UP. All (!) I have left to do now is my thesis, and the final deadline for THAT is February 2013.

That’s not to say I’m going to leave it to the last minute. I will try and get as much of that done as I can during the summer… which is roasting out here.

But it IS to say that my timetable just opened up, big style. And I plan to fill the time with some writing. I’ve got a proper formal writing group that I’m going to go to almost every Thursday. I’ve got at least four other friends who want to do some creative writing this summer who can encourage me and keep me going.

And… I haven’t written anything YET. So to kick myself off I’m going to post for you…. the first poem I ever read aloud at a poetry night. I re-read it this morning, and I still like it. I wrote it a couple of years after my grandfather died, and I like the… childish voice of it. I hope you’ll see what I mean. I also consider it a bit of a tribute to the man, as my grandfather was the man who introduced me to the beauty of poetry.

I should also say that, in an unfortunate way, this has kind of become a companion piece to Jigsaw, which I guess is a more mature version, so I recommend you check that one out afterwards.

Grandpa

You could tell he was up to something
By that naughty twinkle in his eye.
He cheated at football, moved the goalposts closer,
And took his ‘goal kick’ from our penalty line.
He’d send us to sleep with tales of talking sheep,
And wake us to chase us mid-morning-shave,
A grizzly foam monster in pressed brown pyjamas.

He wrote us poems about bunnies
Who loved to eat honey
Which we found very funny,
And he taught me chess.
And we could never do quite well enough to please him at school,
We could always do better, try harder, and we did,
To please him. I loved his smile.

You don’t smile. You look confused.
You don’t laugh, you talk gravelly and slowly,
You sit in bed, and Gran gets tired, and thin,
And the nurse whispers to my Mum,
And your eyes –
Staring, coldly, trying, oh how desperately trying,
To place me, to know me, to tell me –
“How are you getting on?”
I can’t answer.

No, you’re not my Grandpa anymore.

Milk Sky

Bubbling kettle, watch –
your clean steam stirs no colour
into flat milk skies.


My parents have a very large house, but when you’re only home for 3 and a half days, there’s always something to distract you. Having lived in cities for 4 and a half years, I’d forgotten how hard it is to find peace and quiet in this house. There’s always something to do, or something I’m supposed to have done. Writing this, for example, is a nice way to put off going through my room and sorting out all the bags and boxes and drawers of things I hoarded over the years.

I know haikus are supposed to carry some hint of a season, but the weather today is so seasonless, I instead chose to write a haiku that seemed to have a lack of season. I’ve read a few haikus that gave personalities to inanimate objects (which I guess is the animism part of Shinto that I’ve always liked), so I thought I’d risk talking to a kettle. And finally, I decided that I would avoid the word “tea”.

Way back here, I argued that the haiku is an unnecessarily complex form to write in, in English… which I decided after I realised how easy they are to write in Japanese. I still haven’t decided on whether an English haiku should be 4,6,4, or 6,8,6… probably the former for mine, as I have a tendency to lay the adjectives on a bit thick anyway. I still respect the Japanese haiku as a work of creative ingenuity, and it gets my mind working, but I find it frustrating when I’m trying to ADD words to make the poem work. Poetry should be about conciseness, surely? About finding the one right word to make it work. In this case, this could be a two word poem, and I’d still be happy:

a

milk sky

a

Remind me one day to tell you my new theory about the pleasures of poetry taken from a neurolinguistic perspective. I can’t tell you now, I’ve left my notes in Barcelona. This Masters malarkey has just been endlessly busy for the last 3 months. I deliberately chose to do this Masters in a year and a half, to give myself more time and less stress. The

My university

reality, however, has been that up until about the first week of March, I’ve had just as much work to do as everyone doing the Masters in a year… except those people are JUST doing the Masters, and I’m teaching 14 hours a week (not including planning / travelling time), and performing stand up comedy, and running Improvised Comedy workshops, and performing improvised comedy once a month…

… but you’ll be pleased to know that from now on, I will only have about two lectures a week to attend. And I only have about 3 projects left to hand in. We’ve finally reached the time of year when all the 1-year Masters students are working on their theses, and I’m sitting back and trying to decide what to write mine about. As a result, I will finally have more time to read books for fun! And write…. as long as there aren’t more distractions!

I hope to see you on here again very soon.