Group Two's blog, 2010/2011
Song: "Neon"

Group members:
Liz Adams
Tom Kimber
Ciarán O'Leary

 

Evolution, Compromise, Drafts

27.02.11:  » Permalink

We’ve been meeting in the Barbican Centre. In the first two sessions we covered technicalities. I drew a lot of pictures and listened to the very technical vocabulary that Tom and Ciaran spoke so fluently and wonderfully, and wrote a lot down to look up! We also came up with a theme for the project almost instantly. Two dominant strands emerged: The Cuts, and The Current Moods. In the third session I gave Tom and Ciaran a very rough first draft which is titled ‘Pin, Unpin.’ Ciaran seemed to like the geography of the city that is used in the poem, so this is a consideration I have taken through to the final draft. When we’ve talked about this further Ciaran mentioned the incredibly detailed geography that Dublin inspires in literature. Tom and I have talked about Wallace Stevens as well as composers that inspire Tom, in particular John Adams. At this early stage concerns were also flagged up, and Tom spoke about his interest in explicit forms of communication. The second draft here is more of an exploration of the subject matter which I placed into a narrative led prose poem. I became interested in flaneurs in my reading and this crossed from one set of thoughts into another. After showing Tom and Ciaran these drafts we all agreed I needed to chip away at the text to grind it down to something more lithe with the composition in mind. The fourth draft, ‘Neon’ is where I attempted this fully, and I explored what Tom had said in earlier meetings about his interest in explicit modes of communication. This mode of thinking helped me to focus in on the theme, but I did feel that though I had produced a flexible text, it didn’t have much phonetic, or even a musical quality to it that I had hoped to achieve to some extent in the language. It felt like a skeleton to work from. I then showed Tom and Ciaran draft five, which is where I attempted to bring in a strong sense of rhythm. ‘Fuck’ and ‘Cut’ I thought worked well together phonetically, and I also hoped for a bird-like sound which would take up the heart imagery later on in the piece. So that’s why the final drafts have these scrambled lines of sounds. A chorus naturally interjected itself and I had to start considering the piece as a new structure again, with a different set of demands. After showing Tom and Ciaran draft five, it became clear that Tom had bonded with the explicit previous draft ‘Neon’ and I had moved on to what I had thought of as a final draft! Ciaran read them both and didn’t mind too much which one to go with. Because of this, I came up with the final (draft six), which I hope maintains Tom’s need for the explicit, but also my need for the implicit, as well as the important consideration of Ciaran’s voice and his preferences in earlier drafts. So it is a compromise. In writing these drafts it has felt very much like working with the same substance but pouring it into a slightly different shaped mould each time.

Liz


Draft 1

Pin, Unpin

Slot machines and an arcade arching
glass held up by white slats the rats
playing in the drains, rain is ancient.
He stands by the slot machine, counting plums,
apples, pears as gold as grape-fruit
shadows around the ankles, stilettos
go whap, clatter, clack
the sound of last season
– oh London here it is
with your towers of dazzling opulence,
your open streets huge skies
frame the red ivy growing up
the concrete walls at Barbican. And that sound again
banners white and red and black, smash
of glass – London
I have known you for years and I have
never known you. London I have met you
before but I don’t know your face

hanging my legs over the side of the bridge
silver, swirling tin cans, crisp packets,
the shadows of gulls bending
across the river. Thrumming
buses like mechanical hearts.
Slots rumbling in Piccadilly, in Canary Wharf
slots rumbling: apples, plums, pears
strawberries in Hampstead will always be sold –
red and pink bleeding from heads as the batons come
down on London. Horses with huge metal
bodies. Held for hours inside the neon flashes
and the radio is playing the fountains in Trafalgar Square
arch like silvery tutus, the blue-green of phantom
cabbages, blooming in the streets again.

Cut and cut until the fabric rips
and we’re holding the ends of this fraying
eiderdown. Pin, unpin. Tuck, pleat. Concertina
this society into an unrecognisable shape.
The lions will run stray around Trafalgar Square
their paint will peel until they’re unrecognisable,
their manes shaggy and black, become gold before
vanishing.


Draft 2

glass roofs and the clatter of coins in velvet
purses the rumbling of commerce slot
machines humming their sad songs pressed
by alcoholic fingers the fruit machines roll
on and on your face in the glass and the peeping
towers of Canary Wharf viewed from a green
space would encourage this melancholy
blooming over pink hydrangeas swollen
with rain a painful look in each tiny flower –
over there Trafalgar Square the black lions
heavy with the time sparkling whale’s tails
fountains splurge out of the mouths
of ornamental dolphins, yes: this is the city
you leave and return to though every time
you go it becomes harder to come back to
until you’re sliding in a train through Victoria
station passing pears as bright as the moon
in cellophane and the glass roofs of the station
leading towards a shopping centre
sales in every window red slashes
50% off 40 % off that a red hat on a pedestal
the shop assistant talking mindless
spewing the expensive women wired up to blue
tooth hating the young through this

strange arcadia of air hockey zapping
tables breath moving the disk and outside
protests the scissors of economy slicing
it open pulling the caesarean baby with
a bronze tongue as thin as a banknote. Police
form a fence. Neon. Some have
covered the numbers on their jackets; horses with
huge metal bodies part the tide:
this country hates more than it loves:
as the water shakes grey and the paving-stones
the time always the time there is never enough
money money is cut and cut
until we’re holding the edge of this fraying eiderdown.
Pin, un-pin. Distort this society into an unrecognisable shape.


Draft 3

Ghetto blasters blast and blast banners
stamp of feet moving through the glass arcade –
the flaneur observes objects in cellophane like wild
fruits on glass tables; there are cables
dangling from every ear, a man on blue
tooth talking to someone: No, I didn’t mean
that, glancing at the shop assistant up through
slashes of red 40% off this 50% off that
plastic bags rolling up arms to landfill sites
chokes whatever crawls within the white
plastic the flaneur observes from outside
an orange feather in his hat before moving
on through Art Nouveau arcades towards
another one where there are bumper cars
and the zapping sound of video games:
air hockey tables a disk spinning like
a slice of moon all white striped red and the fruit
machines spinning the market to the tap
of alcoholic fingers the women with their
blue hair and the men with their gold and guns.

Outside, the purple sky bleeding blue
the march of protest moving through
London. The lions in Trafalgar Square stir
from their ancient sleep and the monuments
sprayed red against the weight of war
casually as the pigeons that flap grey, purple –
this country hates more than it loves;
glassy flash of riot shields push back the wall
crackle of books, derelict buildings, ripple of flame
eating up through purple-violet, and all the time the
city moves, humming, the Thames
the shadows of gulls bending across the river –

YOUR JOBS NEXT:
YOUR JOBS NEXT:
says the hush of the leaves
corporate squirrels
and hedgehogs as the police thud down with their batons
YOUR JOBS NEXT:

The crowd surges the orange feather
is trampled as a woman packs up
her belongings in boxes. No welfare. Neon.
Outside the window in another street. There
is not enough money. There is not enough time.
Cut and cut until we’re holding the edges of this
fraying eiderdown. Pin, Unpin. She is pinning
pinning the pin is holding, gives
punctures and a spinning wheel spinning.
Packs the car. Drives and drives.
Stars, broken glass.


Draft 4

Neon

cut and cut until we’re holding the edge
of this
fraying eider-down. pin, unpin.
distort
this society into an unrecognisable shape;
a clock –

no –

time
there is never enough
money
is
cut and cut
concertina
fuck the

neon
batons.

telephone:
peeping Canary Wharf
glassy hydrangeas
derelict buildings
ink is
cut and cut until we’re
-uck the

hanging my legs
over
tin-cans, crisp packets
shadows of gulls their wings reflect
horses wire-wool manes huge metal
bodies thrum buses

mechanical
hearts

the beat of the heart the foot of
panic, the bird of the heart
breathe –
this country hates more than it
loves –
no numbers on their jackets who is
accountable?
glass; who is the
arcade: strawberries, apples, pears
in Piccadilly glow a moon in
cellophane;

no –

purple
indigo
splashes of red


Draft 5


Neon

signs light up the road
liquid air they stare
a line of red cuts
the page a clock
its neon arms make
us age

cut & cut t-tcucooko-uck
holding the edge
pin, unpin –
distort this society
into an unrecognisable shape

don’t be late
you may think it’s funny
never enough money
we’re not laughing
neon batons, who is?
no numbers on their jackets?
-uck-ff-cutuck-ffuck-

shadows of gulls
wings reflect
lull of buses mechanical hearts
the beat of the heart the foot of
panic, the bird of the heart
breathe –
this country hates

don’t be late
you may think it’s funny
never enough money
we’re not laughing
neon batons, who is?
no numbers on their jackets?
-uck-ff-cutuck-ffuck-thud

pears in Piccadilly, glow, a moon
in cellophane – no
purple!
indigo!
splashes of red!


Draft 6

Neon

signs light up the road
liquid air they glare
a line of red cuts
the page a clock
its neon arms make
us age

cut & cut t-tcucooko-uck
holding the edge
pin, unpin –
distort this society
into an unrecognisable shape

don’t be late
you may think it’s funny
never enough money
we’re not laughing
neon batons, who is?
no numbers on their jackets?
-uck-ff-cutuck-fuck-those

shadows of gulls
wings reflect horses
lull of buses mechanical hearts
the beat of the heart the foot of
panic, the bird of the heart
breathe –
this country hates

don’t be late
you may think it’s funny
never enough money
we’re not laughing
neon batons, who is?
no numbers on their jackets?
-uck-ff-cutuck-ffuck-sslice

pears in Piccadilly, glow, a moon
in cellophane – no
purple!
indigo!
splashes of red!