2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Apparently just over 1.45 people a day viewed my blog. Warms your cockles, doesn’t it?

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 530 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Matilda’s Magic Christmas

Last year I wrote a Christmas verse for my grandchildren, self-published as an illustrated booklet. This year I thought it might be fun to try to turn the verse and pictures into a cartoon video. You can see the result above.

It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, so it’s something of an experiment. But I hope you enjoy it.

For those interested in the technicalities, I used a combination of PowerPoint, Adobe After Effects, CrazyTalk Pro, CyberLink AudioDirector, and Serif DrawPlus and PhotoPlus, pulling the whole thing together in MoviePlus.

Matilda’s Magic Christmas

Matilda’s a genuine penguin, you know,
Her wings are like flippers and she lives in the snow.
But Matilda’s quite special, shall I tell you why?
One day in each year she’s able to fly.

It happened one Christmas when old Santa’s sledge
Got stuck on an iceberg, high up on a ledge.
‘Twas Matilda who found him, marooned, in despair,
Santa, his sleigh, and some tearful reindeer.

“Can you help us, Matilda, we’re lost and alone.
I’d call the AA, but I’ve forgotten my ‘phone.
We left late last night with a full reindeer flight,
But Rudolph got sick and had to go home.

It was just outside Sheffield he started to cough.
He said that the carrots he’d had for his tea had gone off.
I thought that the others would be quite enough
To get round all the children and drop off their stuff.
How many are left? Well, there’s still quite a few…
Seven million, ten thousand, nine hundred and two.”

Said Matilda, “Oh Santa, I’d love to help out.
If I knew any reindeer, I’d give them a shout.
I would if I could take Rudolph’s place on the sleigh
So you could finish your journey before Christmas Day,
But though I’ve got wings, I can’t fly.”

Then Santa just smiled, and with a gleam in his eye,
Said, “If your heart has wings
There’s no end to the things you can do.”
If Santa says that, thought Matilda, it’s got to be true.
So she wiggled her wings and proudly stepped up to the trace
And at the head of the reindeer there and then took her place.

Santa laughed loud and picked up the rein,
Reindeer and Matilda took up the strain
Like eagles in flight, skyward they came,
As Santa whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen,
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blixen;
Follow Matilda, away through the night!”
And as the stars twinkled down, they were soon out of sight.

Matilda’s the happiest penguin I know,
Though her wings are like flippers and she lives in the snow.
You see, she’s quite special, and now you know why…
At Christmas each year she’s able to fly.

So Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year
When things seem impossible, never despair…
Remember Matilda and be of good cheer,
Close your eyes, make a wish and wiggle one ear.

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Trace

Trace_700

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November 11, 2015 · 4:47 pm

Why Write Poetry?

Poetry isn’t prose
Just written down in rows

I think there is a general misconception that you write poems because you “have something to say.” I think, actually, that you write poems because you have something echoing around in the bone-dome of your skull that you cannot say. Poetry allows us to hold many related tangential notions in very close orbit around each other at the same time. The “unsayable” thing at the center of the poem becomes visible to the poet and reader in the same way that dark matter becomes visible to the astrophysicist. You can’t see it, but by measure of its effect on the visible, it can become so precise a silhouette you can almost know it. — Rebecca Lindenberg, from Why Write Poetry?

Most poetry is not that difficult, in the way that most music is not. But it does require a degree of attention, and a willingness to relate to the experience that prose does not necessarily require.

A poem should dip deeper into the unknown than prose is able. Much ‘literary’ prose is designed to manufacture an experience in a reader by simply (or not so simply) describing it. Poetry should have more magic in it.

Or are there thoughts and feelings that language cannot touch?

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Amsterdam Abstract

Amsterdam Abstract 1

Collage of textures and photos taken in Amsterdam, June-July 2015.

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Document

Document

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Wilder Flowers

Hannan_Chaos 800

“I have faded into the habit of secretly existing under your skin. It is unbelievably dark under there; I am happy.” — Katherine Mansfield, from The Letters of Katherine Mansfield


Don’t come to me thinking
I want what’s best for you.
I have an emptiness in me,
and before it pleases,
it hunts.

Nikushoku Tori


“A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism.” — Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality


Before you touched me,
I was a cage full of
wild things.

My mother used to say,

‘be wary of wolves,
they can smell
the beds of lambs
from miles away.’

so every night
I would sleep naked
and wake up smelling of the moon,
for my mother never knew,
that it is not the wolf
who sleeps with the lamb,
it is the lamb who must first learn
how to run with the wolves.

What I’m trying to say is,
I always wondered
what hell would feel like.
I just never imagined
that I would love it
so goddamn much.

— Pavana


“I want to do things so wild with you that I don’t know how to say them.” — Anaïs Nin


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Wild 2: Wings

Wings_5249_s

Original photograph taken in St Ives, 31 December 2014.

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Wild

Wild 032as_pct

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A letter for my daughter.

Beautiful, sensible words to a lovely daughter from a great mum (and a lovely daughter too). Xx

Dear Maggie,

Today, you are six. SIX! Now, on the one hand, you might say you are too young for this letter, and I don’t suppose you’ll ‘get’ it all for some time. But on the other hand, there are a few things I want to share with you, because being a girl is hard. Already, I see how you study yourself in the mirror, shoulders rolled and lips full. How you layer trinkets and skirts and perfume, then check all angles before strutting away. You ask for your hair to be styled this way and that. It’s as amusing as it is terrifying. And that’s partly the reason for this letter.

Now of course, being your mother, I am sodden with bias and love. But I am also a woman, a wife, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece and a friend. And that is why I want to share…

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