Poets respond to Metropolis: the city inspiring art inspiring writing…

Writers gathered for a poetry workshop led by Mandy Ross at the RBSA Metropolis exhibition.

The city inspiring art inspiring writing… 

Spoz, a well-known local poet and former Poet Laureate,  performed a poem exploring his relationship with Birmingham, the city his parents chose when they migrated from rural Italy.

Artist John Davenport chose to feature Spoz in one of his Metropolis paintings, which features audio of the poet reading his work.

John Davenport ‘A Metropolitan Anthem’ by Spoz Esposito


There is an excitement in the Metropolis artworks lending their power to the words, and the words telling a story found in the visual image.

The city offers us these glimpses, opportunities, riches. We hope you’ll enjoy the poetry produced at the workshop, and perhaps come and find inspiration to write your own work inspired by RBSA exhibitions.

(Mobile users, please turn your phones sideways to best view these poems as they are supposed to be read…)

Poetry from the Metropolis

Lost

Emma Purshouse

in response to Angela Dooley, ‘Invasion of the Cranes’

She heads up Blind Alley …..which she thinks is a cut through ……….at Dead End …………..she retraces her steps back into ……………….Too Many Complications Street …………………at Rat Run she hangs a right ………………………..slips between railings …………………………….and gathering twilight …………………………….making the slow climb up ………………………………..to Point of No Return ………………………………….to where the metropolis diminishes ………………………………………blurs and burns.

The Beach

Karen Elizabeth Miller

in response to Robert Perry, ‘View East from Darby’s Hill’

I stand on the shore. I breathe. I fling my dreams to the horizon, Whisper my prayers to the skies, Let the energies that made me rise up from the pebbles that extend from my feet.

City Flocks

Mandy Ross

in response to Alex Maczkowski, 11c Outer Circle to Perry Barr’  

We are like gannets flocking together. There must be comfort in the multitude, crisscrossing the city’s sea for our next meal, just trying to find a ledge in brick or concrete cliff face to raise the next generation.

All these souls and secret stories we’ll never hear, beaks closed, or chattering in urban languages. Unnamed to each other, we read the hierarchies, who to skirt, where to swoop, pairing and mating on the wing or in feathered darkness, egg to pram to preening strut and broody nesting. Gravity tethers us in crowded streets. We cannot glide or soar, must climb stairs to ride the top deck for bird’s-eye city views, which we can sing in paint or words.

Flooded Cities Leila Howl in response to Tim Osborne, ‘Maria der Roboten’

It seeps through media

Rushing through channels

Refined by millennia

Dividing territory

with bladed lies

and braided leather tongues

Growing stalagmites:

“Your land?” “Our land” “My land” “MINE!”

Scared toddlers on a sugar rush.

We’re civilised now.

It’s them vs. us.

Money buys power by the gallon, But fear holds the exchange.

Balance the books.

Pervasive as mist lined with salt. Aggressions storm, then abate when

It’s us vs. them.

We’re all dying of thirst.

Two Gargoyles on St. Martin’s

Spoz aka Giovanni Esposito

in response to Graham King, ‘Ancient and Modern’

“Barry!”

“Yes mate …”

“What do you make of that then, ah kid?”

“Make of what?”

“Make of what? Make of what!? Make of this marvellous monstrosity that they’ve lobbed up in front of us, that’s what!?”

“Oh … yeah … that. Well, it could have been worse, couldn’t it? I mean, we have had worse, haven’t we?”

“But that’s not the point is it, Barry? That’s like saying … I dunno … ‘it was a bit of a bugger losing my leg in that gardening accident, so I shouldn’t moan about chopping my thumb off last week, in that careless kitchen episode, should I?’”

“Oh come on Colin, surely we’ve got to be grateful for small mercies haven’t we? It could have been so much worse. I mean, we could have got an awful concrete carbuncle to while away the gaze of our days, between commercial displays and Songs of Praise…”

“Steady on Barry, you’re starting to wax a bit poetic there mate!”

“Yeah … but look … Each solitary silver dish gives us a peculiar perspective, An alternative reality reflected in each lustrous dome, A new lens to view our culture … our home.”

“Er … yeah … whatever you say mate. They remind me of those convex mirrors you used to get at the end of supermarket aisles. You know? To keep an eye on possible shoplifters. I suppose they had to do something with them when they introduced CCTV.”

By Mandy Ross, WMMD blogger and workshop leader

Metropolis runs until September 30. You can read about and listen to more of our poets’ work at:

Emma Purshouse

Karen Elizabeth Miller

Mandy Ross

Leila Howl

Spoz

#city #birmingham #poets #gallery #poetry #artists #arts #workshops #exhibition #inspiration

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Images © the artist or the artist’s estate unless stated otherwise.