Come see me at the Fringe!

It’s official. I am appearing at 16.15, 6 – 16 August at Opium Bar on the Cowgate.

Excited to share the stories of people and place from three countries I have lived in and loved.

You can see a link to some of the show here, published by the Glasgow Review of Books.

Look forward to seeing you there.

small version final poster

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My Journey to Edinburgh Fringe

Hello everyone,

I am writing to let you know I will perform at for 10 days at this year’s Edinburgh PBH Fringe. My show is called Out On The World. It is a journey through poems across 3 countries: Nicaragua, Egypt and Nicaragua. Expect to go on a journey.

I will share more information about the show and preparing for the fringe here. At the moment I have been developing my flyer, reaching out to poetry and spoken word organisations in Scotland and finalising my script and wondering what I might have forgotten to do! There is a lot to remember!

My plan with the show is to learn by doing – how to create a narrative and a journey through poems which is entertaining and interesting for an audience. This is my first time to do something like this and developing an interesting hour of spoken word is not easy. Wondering – will people get tired of the sound of my voice?

I will share more as I get going in this month of preparation.

Looking forward to read your advice! Please share in the comments.

16.15_OutOnTheWorld

Draft flyer – 3 images of 3 countries.

 

Lucky Dip (1)

Here goes with week 1 of recording something beautiful.

I am going to start with a man who served me in Dar El Salaam Wonder Workshop craft shop last week. My flipflop had finally broken after walking me what is probably the equivalent of hundreds of miles of Myanmar streets. I asked him for some tape to try and stick it together until I could buy a new pair. Instead he pulled out some plastic thread, expertly threaded a needle and sewed the show back together. I think now the shoe might be a good for another hundred miles…

It made me reflect on the fact that I am quite hopeless unable to fix things myself and would be more likely to throw something out rather than try and mend it. But fixing something is not just about cost, it also makes sense for the environment and makes you/me/everyone less of a slave to the corporate market. I am now more inspired to learn some useful practical skills.

Beautiful, practical and human.

Lucky Dip: Where are designer clothes changing attitudes to poverty?

Tolouse and his similarly dressed crew, who call themselves the Commandos, are wearing outfits that, “kop to tail” (head to toe), cost up to $1,120 each. In South Africa, groups like this are called skhothanes, an adaptation of a Zulu word meaning “to lick” or “to boast.” The day’s occasion is similar to a dance-off, but the broader subculture it is a part of, known as izikhothane, is specific to the “born free” generation—those born at the end of apartheid—living in the townships of South Africa. Born-frees like Tolouse have no direct memory of a time when nonwhites lived in townships like Soweto by force instead of economic stagnation.

As they skhot (boast) about the names of the high-end Italian brands they’re sporting—Arbiter, Rossi Moda, Sfarzo—they never fail to mention the price tag, too. For young men living in a country where economic development hasn’t translated into what’s needed most—jobs for young people—skhothane culture is not just a way to stand out, but a way for young South Africans to move up in a society that offers them few options. While this social mobility may be more perceived than actual, one township local summed up their motivation nicely: “When they do what they do, absolutely no one can do it better. They feel like kings.”

 

Despite this evolution, headlines such as “Why Are Poor South African Teens Buying Expensive Clothes and Destroying Them?” still persist. Such stories follow a simple logic: Removed from the struggle of apartheid, these morally bankrupt and entitled youths ostensibly see no problem wasting the money that not long ago their parents would have barely been able to earn. These headlines imply a more loaded question: Why would anyone in Soweto spend their money on anything but getting out of Soweto?

 

 

Photo by Motheo Modaguru Moeng.

Photo by Motheo Modaguru Moeng.

Greg Potterton, managing director of Instant Grass, a Johannesburg-based agency that specializes in studying pockets of youth culture in Africa, says that in a place like Soweto—which is bordered by freeways and was designed during apartheid to be isolated—Tshepo’s local pride is often a product of circumstance. “When a lot of these kids are growing up, they really don’t have much option or aspirations to go anywhere else because they didn’t know about anything else,” Potterton says. “Then, you get reverse innovation happening: In the absence of luxury, creativity is born. Over time, it’s become a cooler place to be.”

 

From Soweto Style by Rosie J Spinks in Roads and Kingdoms

Messages from the Top of Egypt, 2012

Top of Mount SinaiIn Sinai, the revolution seemed so distant, compared to the permanence of the mountains. As I walk up Mount Sinai, I keep thinking, Moses climbed this same peak. Moses looked out over the same view.

Men sit near the top of the hill, drinking and selling coca cola. There is a mosque and a church balancing carefully on each side of the summit. Neglected tourist stands cluster below. With reports of kidnapping, few tourists are making the journey here.

It seems more than a mere journey. The long bus from Cairo, the climb up the dusty path. In the mountains I travel away from my comforts, away from my distractions, away from the bustle of Cairo which has jostled me for the past eight months, where I have been fighting to make something of myself. The mountains make the media noise, the opposing opinions, the legal disputes, the urgent demands, the political arguments, the twitter updates, the waving flags, everything about the unrest seem so insignificant.

“They are impermanent questions,” say the mountains.

Do not worry about years, do not worry about days.

The mountains say, “Everything continues. Sit, wait, stay.”

The mountains say, “Look. Moses saw this sky.”

So I stop, and for the first time in a long time. I forget news reports and having an opinion. I forget about what I want. Instead, I look out across the mountain tops. Instead, I listen to silence.

Poem: Ribbons of Song

Although, there is the fading moon,
although there are new waves,
there is one man,
who will not watch the sky.
One man who sees the morning
inside his own heart.
Meets the day, travelling.

Fishermen in Alexandria, Egypt

A fisherman shake free hopes,
a boat motor plays a barrel drum,
hours fall into the bay,
one shard of locusts begins to sing.
Soon there are ribbons of them calling,
ribbons and ribbons of song.

Lucky Dip: Let The Storm Wash The Plates

In memory of the great Scottish poet, Edwin Morgan, who died on the 17 August 2010. He was Scots Makar and Glasgow Poet Laureate. His poems made up a considerable proportion of my Secondary School education and his images of Glasgow past and present in particular formed part of my understanding of the identity of the city where I grew up. Yet his work was far more extensive, covering world issues, inter-galactic travel and transcribing the song of the infamous Loch Ness Monster.

This piece was listed as one of the fifty greatest modern love poems and it is the one I immediately thought must be included in such a list. It is light and sweet, like the strawberries, but rich in colour, taste, texture and passion. The last line, so flippant, yet so memorable, seems to say it all.

Strawberries

STRAWBERRIES

There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory

lean back again

let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

Read more of Edwin Morgan’s poems at The Scottish Poetry Library Website and on Edwin Morgan.com.