Celebrant

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When the whale
– it was a flying fish in life –
dies, crabs and gulls will flock to it
hollowing out a temple on the beach
for you to live in for a while.

There will be a salt-gash.
It will tear
from your stinging eyes
to your churning guts
to the pit of your stomach
where the harpoon is still
firmly
lodged.

You will be visited by a wise woman
to discuss the gash and the service,
tailor your drowning to the one who threw you ice-cold into it.

She will invite you to dig deep
to find the ambergris
used in the balm of another person’s sleeping
wearing concrete slippers.
She knows how to make useful things
from the corsetbone and baleen
and blubbering.
Call it ballast
to keep you stable through the ceremony
call it a life raft
to keep you afloat in the turbulent wake of

passing.

 

 

***

Art by Elena Purlyte.

Middle Spirits

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Exciting news – I made a thing! A physical thing that exists, in collaboration with the excellent Elena Purlyte. Its a collection of illustrated poems – my poems, her art – that has been in the works for a good long while now. Check out some preview images below!

The title is in reference to the way people used to understand fairies and household spirits and pagan gods before they got bundled in with everything else that was either satanic or imaginary. I could go on about this idea at length (and maybe I will, in another post), but the gist is that they’re something ‘between’ heaven and hell. Supernatural, but still earthly. The pamphlet is essentially a collection of flights of fancy, some lighthearted, some darker, so the title Middle Spirits seemed like a good fit!

(I realise all this sound a bit pretentious and high flown, but that was pretty much the opposite of the point – I wanted to use poetry to express imagination in a way that *doesn’t* require you to understand metre or have read Wordsworth)

We’re most at the end of what was essentially a ‘trial run’ of printing and selling them, largely on a personal basis, which we did to get an idea of what they would look like and how much it would cost to get them made in that particular way (we used a website called Inky Little Fingers, if you’re interested). There are a few copies left from the first run, but essentially we’d like to figure out more properly how we’re going to sell and promote them before we print any more. If you’d be interested copy, drop me an email at allstar.lewis@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do – if nothing else it will give me an idea of how much interest there is.

The two of us have a few different ideas for what might come next, potentially accompanying the first ‘proper’ print run. Prints, perhaps. Buttons, maybe. Tote bags, potentially (if only because me and Elena really want our own ones). And maybe even a second, shorter collection with a tighter focus. But in the meantime, it just feels so good to have something I can hold in my hands. Hype!pamphlet-selfie-cropped

 

Curiouser and Curiouser

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I didn’t know what to expect when Miko Berry asked me to do a ‘scary story or two’ at a ‘secret gig’ a few days ago. Curious, nervous and excited, I trekked all the way down to the bottom of Leith Walk, where a trail of glitter lead me to a flight of stairs… and at the top I found myself in one of the fanciest and most strangely-decorated studio flats I’ve ever seen. Top hats hung from the ceiling. A statue lurked in a purple-lit corner. Fancy cocktail menus and sushi were arranged on tables. I had no idea what was about to happen.

curiouser flat

The venue was almost empty at first, but I recognised familiar face – painter and fellow poet Suky Goodfellow, who told me she had been booked to do ‘live painting’ for the event. We hid together in the corner for a bit, her setting up her paints and me frantically practicing a poem, and people slowly began to arrive. Some of them were wearing masks, two of them were wearing crowns, and one person even had what looked like a ringmaster’s coat. At this point, my thoughts were something along the lines of ‘shit, this party is too cool for me’ and ‘what have I gotten myself into?’

But I needn’t have worried.

As it turned out, the evening was to be the experimental premier of a new artistic showcase night called Curiouser and Curiouser, hosted by Jody Bowen and curated by Miko. As the guests arrived – and it really did feel that we were less like audience members and more like guests at a live art exhibition/swanky party – funky live music began to fill the room, followed by some exquisite singing backed by the same band. After that it was my turn – I stood up and performed the Tall Man’s Coat and after that something new, with more music and Miko belting out some of his killer performance pieces in-between, backed by the band. After that I could finally relax because my part was over, and the music struck up again as the night began to draw to a close.

Curiouser band

It certainly felt like no other gig I had performed at or attended – partly because of the unique venue, partly because of the atmosphere, but especially because of the unique mix of artists. Curiouser and Curiouser wasn’t the first night I’ve been to that combined live music and spoken word in interesting ways, but it certainly did it very well. The thing that impressed and interested me the most, though, was the inclusion of live artists. Not only was there face-painting, but Suky and sketch-artist Ekaterina Sedykh (Kat) were sat throughout the night, painting and drawing the faces and groups of people around them. It was intriguing to watch them, and they put their work on sale at the end of the night – I even picked up this awesome portrait of me, courtesy of Suky!

All in all, it was a great first night! I wholeheartedly hope that Curiouser and Curiouser takes off and gets the attention it deserves. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it, and any other similar events that come my way. Over and out (-:
-Lewis

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Photo credit to Yelp Edinburgh, painting by Suky Goodfellow.

Elena Purlyte – Eyes of Trees

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Ladies and gentleman, allow me to share with you some art by a good friend of mine – Elena Purlyte. I’ve featured several of her paintings in previous posts and in some of my spoken word performances, ones which were made specifically for those poems. But I decided it was high time I shared some of her work for its own sake. What do you think?

Personally, I find her work really captures the imagination. There’s an otherworldly quality to her paintings, the warm ones and the ones with a more sinister feel to them. If you like what you’ve seen here, then check out her personal blog and give her your support! Throwing your work out into the scary world of the internet can be a thankless task sometimes:
http://www.eyesoftrees.wordpress.com

With any luck there will be plenty more collaboration between us in the future. But until then, enjoy!
-Lewis

The Wolf who came to the Door

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I’m delighted to unveil a new painting from Elena Purlytė, which goes hand in hand with one of my older poems ‘the Wolf who came to the Door’. Enjoy!

Lewis Brown

The Wolf who came to the Door painting

Once upon a time there was a widow who lived
in a house on a street on a hill.
She was largely content and she didn’t complain
excepting the tenancy bill.

She was largely content and she didn’t complain
she still had her job and her home and her health.
She kept a tight ship and a garden of sorts
for the benefit of none but herself.

But once of an evening when the sky opened up
and the rain on the roof made a din
a wolf knocked on her door with a dripping-wet paw
and asked if he couldn’t come in.

He wiped off his paws and took off his coat,
so he wouldn’t get mud on the floor.
He was oh so civil and very refined,
the wolf who came to the door.

She offered him tea, which he graciously drank
which was no mean feat without…

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Supersonic Spacewhale

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supersonic spacewhale rotated

Look! The supersonic spacewhale!
What an incredible sight –
surfing astral rainbows
at twice the speed of light.
Hunting shoals of cosmic krill,
star-hopping with impossible skill
the supersonic spacewhale rules the night!

In a galaxy of darkness
it keeps the shadows at bay
finds the evils of the universe
and drives them all away.
Doctor Who
has nothing on you
the supersonic spacewhale saves the day!

It is honest and straightforward,
as it squashes evil flat.
It doesn’t need a fancy costume.
It doesn’t dress up like a bat.
And you won’t hear it complain
‘first they think I’m a bird, then they think I’m a plane’.
No, a spacewhale is a spacewhale, and that’s that.

So when scientists are wondering
‘Is there life beyond the skies?’
don’t be surprised if someone turns,
throws up their hands and cries
that zooming through the starry void,
munching on an asteroid,
the supersonic spacewhale never dies!

***

Art by Elena Purlytė at: http://www.eyesoftrees.wordpress.com

The Launch Sequence

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Art meets poetry once more – this time in space! Thanks again to the amazing Elena Purlytė for her work.

Lewis Brown

the_launch_sequence_elena

‘T Minus 5’

They said they should send a poet
to describe the Earth from space.
They thought it might do the world some good:
some betterment, for the human race.

“You know, I think that it’s not too late,”
Some bright arts-graduate said.
“We’ve sent up chimps,” he reasoned,
“So why not a poet instead?”

‘T Minus 4.’

The media thought it was a great idea
and the public was incredibly keen.
They even got seals of approval
from Brain Cox and the Queen.

Teams of engineers came together
to make this wonderful vision a fact,
this coming-together of science and art
in a single magnificent act.

‘T Minus 3.’

So they lured out a poet from hiding
with the promise of worldwide acclaim,
although little in his haste did he realise
that they didn’t mean literary fame.

Even though the suit didn’t fit him
and no one explained…

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