Sonnet No. 3

To continue with the sonnet-writing project detailed in my previous post (, here is my third offering, a response to activities which took place at Camperdown Wildlife Centre on the third day of Performing Worlds. This was a Monday, after Sunday’s ‘Non-Participation Festival’ (i.e. an optional day off!).

Monday’s activities included a performance by Beth Savage (, who had led us in a workshop called IN:HABITat some weeks previously (

The sonnet in this instance is based more directly upon my IN:HABITat workshop participation rather than the day at Camperdown (and titled accordingly), though similar ideas and themes shaped both experiences.

PS If anyone could tell me how to turn links into neat little highlighted words (if you know what I mean) rather than cumbersome full addresses, please let me know…

PPS I hope my fellow Performance Platform artists don’t mind me borrowing the titles of their artworks as titles for my sonnets… if anyone does mind I will adjust the poem titles accordingly! No breach of copyright intended! Pure homage. I am indebted.





Set loose, at once I’m territorial.
Stake out the boulders, scratch the letter T,
Hiss at the peaceful golden oriole –
Insisting this is mine, and this is me!
We gather halfway through the exercise:
What did we find, what have we yet to learn?
Let’s try a partner’s psyche on for size,
And introduce our weaknesses by turn.
The concrete struts are strong: the hedges green.
I cease to squabble over chicken bones,
And follow steps to median and mean;
The mode is mathematically honed.
A spider’s web is fastened rule by rule –
To understand the king, we play the fool.




Performing Words [sic]

Hello! This is my first contribution to the Performing Worlds blog. Mega-kudos to Morgan for setting up this blog in the first place, and for her commitment to posting every day during the festival week, i.e. almost single-handedly maintaining an online presence for the Performance Platform group.

Huge respect to everyone who contributed to the festival in other ways… too many to list here, but you know who you are.

My main personal contribution (other than enthusiastic participation) was the Tent of Life project, which I will post more about once I have collected some decent photographic / written documentation.

In the temporary absence of the aforementioned, I have decided to document my experience of the festival through another medium, namely poetry, specifically sonnets.

Why poetry? I find it much easier to organise my thoughts if some existing structure is in place, and poetry is generally more structured than prose. In the hunt for structure, poetry can also prompt some interesting and unexpected deviations.

Why sonnets? Primarily because they are fun to write, and have a pleasing way of unfolding, with the central turn and the final couplet. I am following the Shakespearean formula: fourteen lines, iambic pentameter, and a rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g.

Also sonnets traditionally concern themselves with the subject of romantic love, which I consider the perfect foil for the artistic, social, political and economic conflicts within Dundee.

So: I will attempt to write a sonnet for each scheduled (and unscheduled!) festival activity in which I participated, and post them up in an order corresponding roughly to the chronology of the festival.

Here are the first two sonnets, reflecting upon the pieces Time’s Rope (devised in collaboration with Jonathan Baxter, Emilia Giudicelli and individual members of the D-AiR Performance Platform, and Spinning, Wait… Curses, by Ruth Aitken (, both of which took place on the opening day of Performing Worlds.



Time’s Rope

I am the blind who leads the blind – what larks!
I drag them through the repertory square
To where my supervisor sometimes parks;
And leaning from her car, we find her there,
Our faux-jute rope beribboned with the blood
Of coffee-morning stories, metal hoops
And feathers. Is this work as understood?
We wake, we rise, and coil in snaking loops
Around the city: Maslow’s hierarchy,
Circles, squares, a wave, an intervent,
To shouts of That looks like a right malarkey!
Yes it is, but is that what we meant?
The path down to the waterfront is steep.
We drown in mud we thought was ankle-deep.



Spinning, Wait… Curses

We’ll walk for an hour, she said. It’s a ritual.
The axis of the field: a wheel. Circumference
Is key. We swallow our discomfort, our habitual
Self-centre, or self-censorship. The present tense
Is recommended, often sought; though lost
As frequently as not. A flash of sense
Might radiate the scrubland – borders crossed,
Smallholdings hailed across the sodden fence,
A toe dipped; and what begins as idle mist
Torrential. Upped umbrellas, camera views,
And colours – after you, no I insist
Might we arrange ourselves in open pews?
And afterwards, peruse the clouded lens:
Here is the art, and here the group of friends.



And finally, a real sonnet from the master, with a suitable tempest reference…



Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare


Still recovering (been sick all week) but it didn’t stop me from dismantling the Iceberg and helping Holly move her immense round table. I am looking forward to seeing some folks on Saturday the 23rd, 5-7 at the Hannah Maclure Centre, for Tracy and Edwin’s celebration. We can relax, drink, conversate, and catch up after such a huge week.


I am no longer worried about daily postings. My routine will return to normalcy (of sorts) and I will have a chance to think deeply about this wild week. There were so many activities – which was great – but now I need the time to sort out all that happened.

I want to show these pictures – the aftermath of the Festival/Tempest on my living space – the physical remains of such a busy festival week.

Our bodies are also in need of attention – or at the very least sleep. I was happy to receive a water treatment from Holly Keasey (though I know the value is in repetition). Yvonne organized the lunches which nourished us all week – huge thanks to her, to everyone who helped cook, donated food, and moved all the gear from place to place. Thanks to Jonathan Baxter for getting all this to happen in the first place. Everyone who put on events made this – and luckily people showed up to participate. There are loads of organizations who have given spaces and resources. The biggest support has been the Hannah Maclure Center. The festival proper may be over, but many of us have been documenting the week in various ways – and there is a hub space at the HMC where we will continue to have access throughout the exhibition. This access to a space for an extended period of time is invaluable. So yeah – come visit us, say hello, etc.

I think/hope this blog will be added to by many more people. It was a huge challenge for me to finish a post a day whilst also participating in the festival. Now that there is more time to reflect and dive into the data collected, more people’s opinions and perspectives will be available here.

The Tempest arrives.

My day began by waking up and thinking about what I could physically do. This wonderful and strenuous endurance taking week was nearly over – but could I survive to start my new job over the weekend? I quickly concluded that certain things I had thought about would not be happening, but other things would – and I was okay with it. I started off by choosing my favorite clothes and wearable gifts from the closet.

I added my usual notes and collected objects to the hub space. It was good to run into Sarah putting up a scroll, talk with Tracy and Edwin, Yvonne and Gerry (as they prepared the final of this weeks lunches), and all the other folks in the gallery.

I headed towards the city square. I missed the performances, due to the late start and various errands, but managed to make it for lunch. The rain left us sheltering beneath the huge columns of Caird Hall. We then headed to Chamber East to warm up and partake in the SerenA project’s workshop.

The workshop left us with our first piece in the installation for the evening’s Tempest – a mass of colorful ribbons hanging in the center of the space. More things were added. I brought the ghost shell of my iceberg. Alexander Storey Gordon put together the video installation. Alistair Wilson brought the Tag Tool. Raz collaged live audio with recordings from the week – conjuring an auditory storm. Many people added spoken verse and song. Pernille Spence gave a performance with flour, Jonathan Baxter with inflatable rafts.

Then, after a full week, I bid farewell. More things are happening without me. A film – Derek Jarman’s Tempest may be screened, the Tent of Life, What Has It Got in Its Pockets, and countless others may arrive. The sun will rise – and on the banks of the Tay will be a gathering of happily weary and delirious folk. I will join in cleaning up the space tomorrow morning – but for now, sleep.

Water Meander

An epic day.

Starting out with the Water Breakfast, hosted by Holly Keasey, at Olympia Leisure Center.

After our full breakfast we headed off to Finlathen park to walk the Dighty Burn with Rebecca Wade. It was simply a great day to be outside.

We met up with Ann Lolly and Susanna Silver for a talk before another great lunch, and then discussed the artifacts of our walk with Theresa Lynn.

More meandering the Dighty Burn and a stop for coffee before meeting with members of the Ye Amphibious Ancient Bathing Association and swimming in the Tay. My first time – and it felt great.

We then headed down the beach to celebrate the sun with poetry, fire, food, song, impromptu theater, and sand.

I smell of campfire and feel I may truly understand the word knackered for the first time. Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Bringing it.

Yes you all did – and I thank you – and Jonbro thanks you – and it was great – and damn do I need sleep – but this TAKES PRECEDENCE – so there.

These are all bad pictures of great things. There is even a cheat where I do a poor recreation of my talk/picture with a hastily devised screen shot.

Thanks to Fleet Collective and Chamber East, and Eilidh Mckay who didn’t know she would be our emcee but did a fine job!

In order of chronology for very limited means of posterity:

Morgan Cahn: BONE(r)S.

Ben Robinson: The genealogy of lolcats.

Ed Broughton: Pressure-sensitive tape.

Beth Savage: Things I like.


Theresa Lynn: Calendula officinalis.

Ruth Aitkin and Tara Chaloner: Hypnodog.

Sarah Gittins: Laughter.

Alex Tobin: Who was phone?

Jonathan Brodsky: Practical applications of paradox free time travel.

Holly Keasey: How to properly eat softmints.

The tent of death also briefly made an appearance.

Library, Education, Museum

Wednesday already. Lots of talking (verbal and non verbal) and listening (closely or otherwise) and sharing. I will start with my going to the library – to experience Gerry O’Brien’s 7 Sunsets in the local history center.

Then off to the HMC, where the open education event and Artists’ talk were scheduled. I was able to put some additions up on the hub space. This blog is picture heavy – while the hub space has my written notes from each day and various found and made objects.

Sarah Gittins placed her scrolls on the wall. She carries one around each day, inviting anyone to add on.

Talks happened, play, confrontation, silence, Lunch (again much thanks to Yvonne and crew) vhs was watched, archive’s discussed. This was a word heavy day – I filled up my notebook. I have one more picture, from Tracy MacKenna and Edwin Janssen’s talk. At the V&A dialogue in the Olympia Leisure Centre I left my camera in my bag.

My evening’s event was the BYOPPT at Chamber East – I have loads of bad pictures of the fabulous presenters who made my evening extraordinary – but I will leave that to another post.

Talk, Food, Lear.

Another day. Another long packed day. I finished my BYOPPT presentation and ran necessary errands (unfortunately causing me to miss the workshop at the REP).

I did make it to the library to see Theresa Lynn and produce art out of the bits in my pockets.

Then I went to the HMC to see Tracy and Edwin sorting through their archive for the Performing Worlds exhibition. They were doing the necessary discussion and organizing side of sorting out a 15 year collaborative adventure.

Then off to Generator Projects to hear from Neil Mulholland. There was also a discussion with the Generator committee and other people working with artist run spaces (and non-spaces). Lunch was served in between.

The Tent of Life, a roaming project of Tara Chaloner’s made its first appearance of the day outside the Generator building. Later it was seen snuggling up next to my Iceberg at Tayside Recyclers.

The evening was then taken over by the mad ravings of King Lear/Jeremy Hardingham. I really enjoyed it, along with the readings afterwards (oh – little violence!) and discussion. What a whirlwind – and the Tempest isn’t even scheduled until Friday (what day is it?!)

See you soon..