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
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
Call it ballast
to keep you stable through the ceremony
call it a life raft
to keep you afloat in the turbulent wake of
Art by Elena Purlyte.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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:
With any luck there will be plenty more collaboration between us in the future. But until then, enjoy!
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.
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