Flaneur: Day 2

Poetry, Uncategorized

FLANEUR is a little project I’ve made for the BBC’s Contains Strong Language: a randomly-generated writing-exploration game that you can take part in. Each day of the festival I’ll be taking a randomised wander around Hull and posting a little poem about it. Head to Mixital to get your own instructions for a surprise, write a response, and share it with us. I’ll be reading and chatting about the responses on BBC social media channels each afternoon.

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the neon hoodie hulks between

     knowledge and innovation total panel
     solutions security and monitoring
     services hygeinic door systems
     autoelectric systems proplant
     services palletised distribution
     gates and fencing rigid kitchen
     carcases augmented online salvage
     auction technology SPIDERS office
     clearance EXCELLENCE roller shutters
     vehicle wrap luxury mirrors all
     at trade prices accident repair
     repair repair open to the public

               and the wolf mauls the dirt


My Instructions

1. Run.
2. Roll lightly away from the moon for seven seconds.
3. Walk.
4. Travel east for a little while.
5. Take the fifth left.
6. Proceed intensely towards the largest building nearby for a while.
7. Find the nearest lamppost and wait there watching the world pass for one hour.
8. Wheel slowly for a while.
9. Find the nearest wall and write down a description.
10. Disobey this instruction.
11. Find the nearest building and write down a description.
12. Watch.
13. Jaunt away from the sea for a while.
14. Explore the first alley you meet. When you leave, turn left.
15. Find the nearest wall and wait there watching the world pass for ten seconds.
16. Meander in the direction of home for a little while.
17. Stop, find a comfortable spot, and write a tiny poem about what you’ve seen.
18. Head home.

Wander Notes

When I saw “Run” I knew I had to pelt it across the bridge. I wanted to get into the industrial estates, those strange alternate realities where huge numbers of people work but the urban design is weirdly inhuman: unwalkable, shot through with carparks and private roads. This one is extra strange, because the Trans Pennine Trail cuts through it, making me dream of mountains. I had to take an uninstructed 15 minute break in a bus shelter when the ran got too heavy, and the noise of the road was extraordinary. The instructions sent me up to a big factory to lounge against a lamppost, where of course a security guard found me and asked what I was doing. “Just out for a wander,” I said with a daft grin, feeling very silly (I was very silly). He made me stand on the opposite street corner, which was not a private road. I think he was worried I was trying to steal the formula for Clearasil with my damp notebook and pen. So I didn’t make it the full hour under the lamppost before wandering on.

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Poem Notes

Along with the strange architecture, I like the language of the business park, like I like all peculiar jargons and minority argots. All the words in the middle bit here are gathered from buildings on this derive (I’d like to go back and gather more; I don’t think I’ve quite caught the mix of beauty and banality, strangeness and incomprehensibility). I wanted to frame that language with something both urban and magical, to give it a weirdness in its context. The neon hoodie is mine; the wolf was originally a BMX bike, but “BMX bike” has terrible scansion and felt too on the nose, so I tried transforming it. I’m now worried the frame is too overstated, but set against the banal central section maybe I get away with it.