Friday, 21 October 2016

There's a skeleton of a rockhopper penguin in Manchester Museum

You've heard about The Rockhoppers? No? You can go here to find out about this new Poetry group:

Here's a poem about Rockhoppers. I wrote it for the first gig of The Rockhoppers -- on National Poetry Day at The Brown's in Laugharne.

There’s a skeleton of a rockhopper penguin in Manchester Museum

Red eyes,
orange beaks,
spiky feathers of yellow and black
on their heads.
Their feet are webbed,
and pink.
Colourful little buggers.

They shout their news and gossip
to all their great colonies
as they hop across rocks,
breeding in their thousands
all out there in public.
Noisy little fuckers.

In the same nest each year,
they mostly couple with the same mate.

Sod that new relationship stuff,
all that watchin and waitin
and will-she-won’t-she…
will he, won’t he…
Stick with what you know, mate,
life’s too short.

And so are they, very short,
the smallest penguins,
about 20 inches tall.

They make up for that,
they are (still)
the most numerous penguins on the planet
(must be all that noisy public breeding).

But rockhoppers are in decline.
And there is a long way to fall.
They are, officially, ‘vulnerable’
close to ‘endangered’.

It’s the other Rockhopper,
the one with no feathers,
the one that deals only in black stuff,
and share prices.
No colourful feathers, red eyes, or  pink feet,
not even an orange beak…
and the black rockhopper
goes quietly, softly,
almost unnoticed.

Rockhopper Exploration PLC
found oil,
one billion barrels of it
in the North Falkland basin.
The first will flow in 2020.

There won’t be many rockhopper penguins
left in the Falklands,
or anywhere else, by then,

but, after all,
there is a skeleton
of a rockhopper penguin
in Manchester Museum

 one appears on the company’s logo,
preserved there in black and white,
so long as the oil will flow.

Bird calls, feathers and extreme flights of fancy

The Rockhoppers -- left to right: Annie, Jackie, Mel and Maggie.

I’m pleased to be part of the newly formed poetic foursome, The Rockhoppers. We had our debut gig on National Poetry Day 2016 as guest hosts of the monthly poetry event at the famous Dylan Thomas watering hole, The Brown’s, in Laugharne.

The Rockhoppers is a group of four poets based in west Wales. Annie, Jackie, Maggie and Mel are four strong distinctive individual poetic voices. They also work well together and collaborate to produce innovative and sometimes surreal pieces for performance. They have a strange and unexplained affiliation to small penguins.

Here's the link to our intro at the Words& gig on November 30th at Aberystywth Arts Centre:

And here are some comments from audience members after The Rockhoppers'  gig at 
The Brown’s:

‘Surreal, musical, sublime!’

‘They play off each other very well’

‘Excellent, varied’

‘Lovely mix of styles, very amusing’

‘Fantastic combination in the last piece, great evening.’

Annie Butler
Born and educated in Cardiff, Anne Marie Butler worked as a civil servant. Her career took her to west Wales where she also studied Fine Art and Design. She now works as a landscape artist, book illustrator and writer.  Her written work fetes the everyday. She shares a natural awareness of the rural landscape and relies upon nature and people to inspire her.  Her poems reveal clear observations, together with exploration and experimentation with the surreal.  She is currently working on her first collection of illustrated poems.

Jackie Biggs
After a successful career as a journalist and editor, Jackie Biggs started writing poetry five years ago.  Her first collection, The Spaces in Between was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press (Swansea). She has also had poetry published in many magazines and anthologies. She reads her work at spoken word events all over west Wales – and anywhere else that will have her.

Maggie Harris
Maggie Harris writes poetry and prose. Caribbean roots and Kentish shoots now growing in west Wales. Proper jobs have included teaching Creative Writing and an International Fellowship at Southampton University. Maggie has won the Guyana Prize twice for poetry and the Commonwealth Prize for a short story. Now loiters in gardens and cafes and anywhere that accepts poets. 

Mel Perry
Mel is a writer and spoken word performer from Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire, and is a frequent visitor to the north Wales island of Bardsey. She is a regular performer at spoken word events and is a member of the Coracle- Kultivera residency in TranĂ¥s, Sweden through which she is co-delivering writing workshops on line for Swedish young people.  Her poetry and short stories appear in a range of publications including Two Thirds North from Stockholm University. In 2016 she collaborated with Carmarthen Symphonic Wind Band to perform her Bardsey poetry to music.
Mel is now also studying for an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes.

to contact the Rockhoppers please email Jackie:

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Splatchwordy world

We recently celebrated the centenary of the wonderful writer Roald Dahl. This poem uses many of his made-up words and a few I created myself, including the title. It was also inspired by a sketch called 'Endless Column' by Jude Macklin, which was part of a printmakers exhibition held this summer at the Old College in Aberystwyth. 
You don't really need to know what all the new words mean, but I would say that a 'quogwinkle', according to Dahl, is an alien from space.

Splatchwordy world

(in memory of Roald Dahl)

How’s the view from up there,
                Cast your goggler over the way we live our patchwork lives --



are we worth just a glimp
from your perch
that purple morning haze?

                Are we wobble-crossing
down the street,
                not finding a path,
just tripping the stones beneath our feet?

How is the view from up there?
Can you spygog us
                down that
mundane road -
among everyday traffic in the
cloudy mauve
                jiggered morning
kind of rain

How is the view from up there?
Are you biffs-quiggled by our scrotty lives?

                Can you see
through your violet shadows
                our darksome,  jumbly froth-buggling,
                fluck-gangled, whopsy-waddling,
                                poisnowse world?

Tell us, quogwinkle,
                what do you see with your glimpy-gumbled spy in the sky?
                     What do you see?