Architecture and Intimacy: the City as Form, as Body


Session 6 was not in class. The theme of the class was architecture, and we had class at the Southbank Centre, in Waterloo. It was the first time for me there, so I was immediately in love with the place. First of all, the lift was absolutely amazing, with a choir singing in tune and announcing the floor where you landed. The place was incredible because it really gave me the sensation of gathering arts, gathering people who had a dream and were practicing and working hard to obtain it. There were exhibitions, people rehearsing dance shows and people carrying musical instruments. I loved it. And then there were us. Ron invited us to consider why we were there and not in class, why it was different and what exactly was different. To consider the intimacy of the place, our body presence in place. Our class at Uni is very small and intimate, and it was strange to start a class in such an open space. Ron told us to consider the space, the height, the architecture language, the presence of glass, stairs, to consider everything in the awareness of being.

The University is the place where we learn, while the Southbank Centre has another function. The atmosphere has changed. We can walk across the Thames, on the bridge. As writers, we need to be aware of the notion of another kind of creation. We have different kinds of resources. He invited us to go there also if there is no class. We sat at a table at the fourth floor, right outside the Poetry Library. The presence of all the books, said Ron, could make us feel daring. We needed to notice how dynamics changed, how we could feel more as a team and less as individual students. We could notice the sense of beauty, the presence of the river and how the Thames is different from other rivers.

Me and my classmates were enchanted by the Poetry Library. It was a very small space, where we could just hang out and consult or read poetry books. Ron told us to spend some time in the library, to flip books open and notice sentences that could catch our attention, that incorporated our curiosity and interest. Then, we should write them down. We had to repeat this for 6 times.

There was a section about literary journals and magazines, where I found the hard copies of some of the best lit mags in the world (Ambit, Bare Magazine…). I found an interesting poem by Jonathan Coe, The Downs, published on the last issue of Bare Mag. Then there were the books about Bob Dylan were exposed because of his recent Nobel Prize for Literature. I sat for a while and flip through the pages. I am never tired of reading his lyrics (Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed / Whatever colors you have in your mind / I’ll show them to you and you’ll see them shine…) I was intrigued by the Children Section, where I found very nice pieces of poetry for kids and teens. I stopped to read some poetry by John Keats, especially the famous Ode on a Grecian Urn (Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know).  Then I found an old copy of The Howl by Allen Ginsberg and I read a bit of the poem America, which seemed appropriate for the day (Mr. Trump had been elected President of the USA two days before, to my great disappointment): America, I’ve given you all and now I am nothing. Then, there was a section for anthologies. Among them I found a nice old book called Poems from Italy: verses written by members of the Eighth Army in Sicily and Italy, July 1943 – March 1944. There, I found beautiful descriptions of the countryside of Italy. They really made me miss home.

I was also very fascinated by the section of the poetry guides and creative writing companions. You can really find any kind of resource you need if you want to undertake the difficult path of writing poetry. There were books about history of foreign poetry, guides to write poetry and get it published, computers to read the poetry magazines online and many other. There was a section where all the newly-published books were stacked before being put into the appropriate section, and I was also struck by the huge number of flyers, posters and adverts of poetry workshops and competitions.

I put here some of the quotes I gathered. Some others, the more intimate and personal, are jealously kept in my own diary, and made the experience at the Poetry Library a great inspiration to think about my own poetry and life.



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