Not to be operated by children.

The title is from a warning sign on a shredder in my work. Yet sometimes, I think, we need to be children in order to operate the equipment which we all carry around with us inside our head.

Let me explain. Yesterday I went to “Fall”, a performance poetry workshop, at the Richard Attenborough Centre in Leicester. We had about 10 minutes to write down ideas on the themes of “harvest”, “autumn” and “fall”. The idea was to silence the inner, adult critic inside our heads and get our ideas down on paper – whether good, bad or indifferent. We played with personification, simile and metaphor, exploring imagery and ideas around the turning of the seasons, fertility, decay and our senses; the beauty and the sounds of words came to the fore. We then chose actions to go along with the poetry, and each of us took it in turn to perform our piece.

Participants ranged from 7 to 77, from Rob Gee, a professional comedian and poet, to people who were completely new to the idea of a poetry workshop. I think all of us came up with original and interesting images. However, the most memorable phrase for me came from a young girl, who described the “fruity fruits” of autumn. This could have been instantly dismissed as a tautology by an adult, but I think the fearless naivete of childhood shines through in the bravery of this repetition. My own “ripe, succulent berries” seem a bit pale and tasteless in comparison.

The result was a shared exploration of nature, which was tremendously enjoyable and interactive to perform and hopefully this translated into an entertaining performance. Bobba Cass performed a song, ‘Mambo Like Me’, which reinforced the collective nature of the work, and gave an impassioned speech on injustice, and Carol Leeming, our workshop facilitator, gave us an intricate choreo-poem, celebrating death and rebirth. (All this was photographed, and I will post a link when / if this is available).

This was the latest workshop to be put on by Embrace Arts – I missed the last one which celebrated Spring, but I am looking forward to joining together with performers again next year.


Leaves wither and fall.
A million solar panels
Danced against the blue of the sky
Now branches wave goodbye.
Circles circumscribed by the wind,
On the ground, dead, they lie.
Crinkle and crunch under our feet.
What a journey they have made.

The year grows older,
It has basked in the sun,
Gone on holiday.
Now it returns,
Wrinkled and fat like a walnut,
To grey vagaries of an English September.

We pluck metaphors from fields:
Golden corn waves to us,
Ripe, succulent berries.
Feel the whoosh of the wind,
Listen to the sounds of our harvest.

You can read more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’ All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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