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Culture Laser Live: Winter Warmer

December 1, 2014

Delighted to invite you to the basement of the Forest Café to warm your toes and treat your ears for the Decemberest Culture Laser Live of 2014, A Winter Warmer.

A Winter Warmer for your Dark Dark Ears

3 December
18.30
The Forest, eh3 9jz
FREE FREE FREE

Jo Clifford — reads from her award-winning, fringe-smashing, heretic-sounding ‘Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven’.

Nick Holdstock — the writer opens his cockles for your auditory pleasure.

GOL — a rare live session from one of our favourite Scottish / Iranian bands — electronica & hiphop jazzed up with Persian influence.

Zap Pow Zap

+ special guests & tunes from the Culture Laser Band O’ One — Jack of Diamonds!

Culture Laser LIVE! at the Edinburgh Fringe

August 1, 2014

culture-edfringeCulture Laser Live

6 August, 19:00

Forest Down

141 Lauriston Place

FREE

“That’s Right – We’re Doing it Live”

culturelaser.com

The Multi-Coloured Culture Laser enters the Fringe fray for a night of performance, discussion, drinking, and hot hilarious august action. A podcast experience for your eyes & your hearts – done fucking live.

Featuring:

* ROOM w/ Jemima Yong & Alan Fielden

Room is bound to be a highlight of the 2014 Fringe Festival. Part radio play, part interactive storytelling, ROOM is inspired by analogue, literary based computer games like Dungeons and Dragons & Interactive Fiction. Catch the show at Pleasance all August

* PRETTY UGLY w/ Louise Orwin

Pretty Ugly is a show about a recent worldwide trend of teenage girls posting videos on YouTube asking viewers to rate their looks. This is a show about our obsessions, pretensions, and teenage girls. Catch the show at Forest Fringe

* THE JELLYMAN’s DAUGHTER

A mesmerising concoction – part melancholic, part unplugged post-rock, part bright folk lullaby. We love it. You’ll love it!

+ tunes from the Culture Laser Collective Band feat Jack of Diamonds & guests from the Midnight Train!

Notes from the Fort and Viewmaster Hit The Forest Café May 10

May 5, 2013

This Friday artist Michelle Elrick will be in The Forest Café with “Notes from the Fort”, a series of performance installations that create intimate places in unfamiliar environments through the play act of fort building. Using only existing structures and a suitcase full of hand-crafted materials, each fort is constructed, inhabited, noted and dismantled in a live poetic document of sense of place and the origins of home.

She will be double-billing with Viewmaster, myself and Dan Gorman’s poetic slideshow for your eyes and ears only. You choose the journey and we will bring you on a sometimes surprising, sometime surreal, tour accompanied by the ambient sounds of the man they call Dan. Performances are one-to-one-to-Viewmaster, and last under 10 minutes. A rare chance to travel, listen and pause in one beautiful space.

What: Notes From the Fort / Viewmaster

Where: The Forest Café, 141 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh

When: 10 May, 8pm

How Much: FREE

Nothing But The Poem – An All-Male Revue

March 23, 2009

Our Nothing But The Poem session at The Forest was, oddly, all male – a striking contrast to the session I’d recently run during a retired ladies’ lunch at St Columba’s Church in Edinburgh. At that session, I was the lucky winner of pink and turquoise bath salts – which just goes to show how fluid and flexible these workshops are.

Anyway, we began with a poem from the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa which I thought would be a gentle opener:

There was a moment

Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa

There was a moment
When you let
Settle on my sleeve
(More a movement
Of fatigue, I believe,
Than any thought)
Your hand. And drew it
Away. Did I
Feel it, or not?

Don’t know. But remember
And still feel
A kind of memory,
Firm, corporeal,
At the place where you laid
The hand, which offered
Meaning – a kind of,
Uncomprehended –
But so softly…
All nothing, I know.
There are, though,
On a road of the kind
Life is, things – plenty –
Uncomprehended.

Do I know whether,
As I felt your hand
Settle into place
Upon my sleeve
And a little, a little,
In my heart,
There was not a new
Rhythm in space?

As though you,
Without meaning to,
Had touched me
Inside, to say
A kind of mystery,
Sudden, ethereal,
And not known
That it had been.

So the breeze
In the boughs says
Without knowing
An imprecise
Joyful thing.

———————–
Fernando Pessoa from ‘Fernando Pessoa: Selected Poems’ English translation by Jonathan Griffin

We started off briefly discussing the choppy way it is written – the way the poem seems to resist flow, the way that first sentence feels awkward as marbles in the mouth. But, it was generally felt that Pessoa was in control of this – the form and rhythm mirroring a kind of uncertainty in the narrator who, himself, is uncertain of what that hand on his sleeve means. Certainly Pessoa feels the ephemeral mystery of love boiling in him but, from the beginning, he undercuts this emotion with flat-out doubt. “(More a movement / Of fatigue, I believe, / Than any thought)” he says in the only bracketed lines. Of course, this is not parenthetical information, it is essential. We’ve all been in the moment Pessoa has presented – we’ve choked on that unknowing, that uncomprehending. Which, we felt, was the poem’s point. Yet, the narrator optimistically steers himself towards taking joy from the moment, even if the moment was “imprecise” at best.

Next we looked at an Elizabeth Bishop poem, one I liked for the way builds and for its more-or-less unsentimental yet empathetic look at a mental hospital.

Visits to St. Elizabethsbishop

[1950]

This is the house of Bedlam.

This is the man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the time

of the tragic man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a wristwatch

telling the time

of the talkative man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a sailor

wearing the watch

that tells the time

of the honored man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the roadstead all of board

reached by the sailor

wearing the watch

that tells the time

of the old, brave man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

These are the years and the walls of the ward,

the winds and clouds of the sea of board

sailed by the sailor

wearing the watch

that tells the time

of the cranky man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a Jew in a newspaper hat

that dances weeping down the ward

over the creaking sea of board

beyond the sailor

winding his watch

that tells the time

of the cruel man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a world of books gone flat.

This is a Jew in a newspaper hat

that dances weeping down the ward

over the creaking sea of board

of the batty sailor

that winds his watch

that tells the time

of the busy man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a boy that pats the floor

to see if the world is there, is flat,

for the widowed Jew in the newspaper hat

that dances weeping down the ward

waltzing the length of a weaving board

by the silent sailor

that hears his watch

that ticks the time

of the tedious man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

These are the years and the walls and the door

that shut on a boy that pats the floor

to feel if the world is there and flat.

This is a Jew in a newspaper hat

that dances joyfully down the ward

into the parting seas of board

past the staring sailor

that shakes his watch

that tells the time

of the poet, the man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the soldier home from the war.

These are the years and the walls and the door

that shut on a boy that pats the floor

to see if the world is round or flat.

This is a Jew in a newspaper hat

that dances carefully down the ward,

walking the plank of a coffin board

with the crazy sailor

that shows his watch

that tells the time

of the wretched man

that lies in the house of Bedlam.

Elizabeth Bishop from The Complete Poems, 1927 – 1979

I was surprised to find that this was the least favourite of the group. We talked about how well-structured it was and how it did feel like visiting Bedlam, how the images and beats were interesting, fresh and even seductive. However, while admired, there were some hang-ups. Such as – who is the man, is it the same man or a different man, is each stanza a separate visit (they each feel like separate visits) and why do the same things happen each visit? Generally, however, we did come around to the idea that as the narrator visited Bedlam she gradually got to know more about the patients who were stuck, perhaps, in their own past. The dancing widowed jew, the staring sailor, the tedious man, and lastly, the soldier were all in the same physical space, having gone mad, but previously having their individual lives and wives and watches and that go along with those things. We felt, Bishop’s poem requires one to wonder what has brought them all there, what connects them and has kept them apart from the world.

Next we looked at a Harry Smart poem which I choose because I can almost feel Summer in my bones.

Summer Evening

It’s time to stand by the window

And be a fine man.

There is, after all, the quiet hour

Before the dances

And the bars begin to be noisy.

The birds’ late calling

Louder than the far road’s noise

Is broken, often,

By a soft hush, loud whispering;

No-one is alone.

The solitary lie bears repeating.

The time is grey doves.

It’s time to stand by the window

Holding an airgun,

Seeking the grey doves in twilight.

Harry Smart published in Pierrot by Faber and Faber, 1991

I’ve been well into Smart since Mr. Nick (Holdstock) recommended him to me a few months ago so I was pleased to bring one of his poems to a session. We all liked the control and pace of this one and found some of those short lines like, “No-one is alone” and “Holding an airgun” to be quite startling. There is definitely a tension in here, a sadness, a desire for both silence and not-silence. Now, keeping in mind we’d all met on a Saturday afternoon (and were all guys), the group eventually talked itself into a little narrative about a man who is going to go out and head to “the dances”, have some beers, maybe try to pull a few “birds”. (You see where this is going?). So, watching birds out a window becomes like watching TV on a Saturday night before going out. Instead, you never get around to going out, maybe

you feel a bit bad about it, you get the airgun, shoot some “birds”, or lay on the couch and do something else instead. I can’t help but wonder what the retired ladies of St. St Columba’s Church would have thought of this one.

spl

Next Session

24 March: Scottish Poetry Library – 6.30pm

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