Obstruction #10 was the response to us wondering around the Southbank Centre. Ron told us to spend 40 – 45 minutes in and out of the space. He told us to go outside, to visit at least three floors of the building and to ride at least 2 or 3 of the amazing lifts. He told us not to talk among us or at the phone, and to pay attention to what surrounded us, for example the building materials, the textures that we saw, the architecture. He told us to consider the bodies that we move in and out, to overhear conversations, to take pictures and wonder what everything we saw reminded us of, to constantly wonder what was coming up to mind by watching the place.
Then we had to come back into the building, choose a place around the floor where we were gathered and try to write a poem, keeping writing until Ron would stop us. These were the guidelines:
- Include overheard language, something you encountered in the last 45 minutes.
- The first line needs to be interesting, immediate.
- Try to begin in the middle of things, a shocking “in medias res” (for example “in the fog”, where we are already into something, or using “you know”, to address someone directly).
- Include a monument, a memorial, a bridge, a building from the past and one from the present.
- Compare the sound of the Thames and the outside to the sound of the movement of the body.
- How may the piece move? Give a “wandering” rhythm.
- Include a rise in your writing.
Here is my attempt.
10th of November
First Draft Version
You know when you spend
a whole day worrying
and wondering what’ll come next
And then you see something
And laugh until it hurts, until
small, wet wrinkles form around your eyes?
A sore, sick laugh from the back of
your throat. That’s this morning.
There’s a new exhibition
at the Southbank Centre.
About students’ idea on how to
Enlight the Thames after dark.
Neon purple lightbulbs popping out on black.
There is a photojournalism exhibition
At the 2nd floor. Big themes,
no doubt, emotions flow.
Racial issues, cancer, sexual assault.
Syrian refugees and civil rights.
But today there’s another urgency
Read what people think today.
Thoughts about lights on the Thames.
How does light make you feel?
Peaceful. Just safe.
Do you think London bridges are
an important public space?
Of course I do. Make them beautiful.
What’s your favourite bridge in London?
People’s faces on the tube are concealed
by Hillary Clinton’s high cheekbones on
greysh newspaper pages.
A guy shouted to an American
friend, he’s going to rule the world.
No Trump, scribbled on a piece
of paper pasted on a wall, among
students’ ideas about enlightening
the river that churns and whirls
as my stomach did on Wednesday morning
when the sad news was announced.
Still, The White House is solid.
The Thames and Hudson and Nile
keep flowing despite the dangerous currents.
There’s a stillness in marble and
water. The world needs that stillness.
A deep breath. Try not to move for
a second. We’ll see you in January,
when another shitty year begins.
I wanted to write a poem about the American elections because, even if I am not an American citizen, I know what happened will influence the next years big time. I am speechless and I really do not know what to expect. I am curious but also hopeless. We will see what happens.