Figures of Speech


Key Words:

Friday, June 13, 2014 - 14:51

The celebrated poet Tamar Yoseloff returned to Southbank Centre after her sell-out Martin Creed poetry workshops to run a short course inspired by Hayward Gallery's summer exhibition, The Human Factor. Author of several collections of poetry, Tamar has an interest in the relationship between art and poetry. She has also run a number of site-specific writing workshops concerned with poetry and place.


Tamar says: I'm very excited about my course at the Hayward, Figures of Speech, which will invite poets to take inspiration from the new exhibition, The Human Factor. We are constantly trying to find ways of speaking about the body, the physical sensation of experiencing the world, what makes us human, what constructs our identities, our interaction with others. To consider how contemporary artists have challenged these ideas will give us a springboard for our own poems. We will look at a number of poets, from Rilke to Jorie Graham, who have used the body -- real or imagined -- as a theme, and will consider statements from the artists to give context to the works. I know there will be many surprises and revelations.

Here are some of the poems from course members from Tamar’s last course inspired by Martin Creed's What's the Point of it? 1,000 a day (after ‘Work No 1,000’ by Martin Creed)

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!'” – George HW Bush

They are a drone of painted vegetables.
They are portion control, insane, incensed, insensible.
They are blank OCD floreat faces, promising nutrition and nothing.
They are handshakes collapsing in on themselves.
They are the discretionary flowering of a lazy flytrap.
They are asthmatic, unambitious mushroom clouds.
They are all the alveoli in my lungs after a Romeo y Julieta numero cinco.
They are veins breaking into song. They are a covers band called Floret and the Machine.
They are harps that don’t know they’ve been born.
They are what would come out of an art school-trained dolphin’s blowhole. They are really shit rave glowsticks.
They are Poundland Rorschach tests.
They are what frustration looks like, a thousand times.
Rishi Dastidar  

Cromarty Cromarty

Cromarty Cromarty
German Bight
Trafalgar Hebrides Dogger Wight
Cromarty Cromarty
Irish Sea Viking Fastnet Hebrides
Cromarty Cromarty
Portland Forth Biscay, Tyne, Utsire
North South East Iceland
German Bight
Cromarty Cromarty
Dogger Wight
Dorothy Boswell  

Martin Creed isn’t joking (Don’t panic, everything is going to be alright)

I like to ring your bell,
I like to switch you off and on when life tickss you off, lisssten
for my rrrrrings 5 times;
my ears fill with chimes
between left and right
is a crevice full of clouds
rumbling and tumbling
munching on junk food
inside my head is a balloon
it belongs to you
it’s white it might go BANG
as it crashes on the shores
of your panic.
That’s the point of it
Liz Devereaux   

In the Balloon Room

Squeezed into the white room
we are like dwarves swollen
in petri dishes to Alice-like
Drink-Me proportions.

A blood-sample drawn
with a monster cannula
from a giant’s arm.

The bump-pump of
fatty white corpuscles
against the vessel’s glass sides.

The squeak of cell-walls
and the specks of red
threaded through them,
human erythroblasts.

We jostle along his vein
like enzymes, fatty acids,
loose bits of protein,
reluctant to leave him
in this leukaemic condition.  

Imogen Forster

Colour Chart

Ash grey Dove grey Silver grey Heron grey Metallic grey Mist grey Murial grey Matter grey
Battleship grey Scale grey Earl grey China grey Slate grey Dorian grey Sea grey Blueberry grey
Joel grey Cloud grey Lavender grey Pebble grey Smog grey Vote grey Mole’sbreath grey
Calluna grey Lady Jane grey Plummet grey Irish grey Parma grey Area grey Hound grey
Anatomy grey Granite grey Chinchilla grey Charcoal grey Edward grey African grey Wolf grey
Mood grey Goose grey Wool grey Macy grey Squirrel grey Pigeon grey Effie grey Flannel grey
David grey Inn gray Mullet grey Seal grey Gauze grey

Gerard Brown  

Waiting for the 6

Five minutes is infinite
if you're standing at the corner of 55th and 7th
waiting for the number 6.

It's minus 40 degrees
and you're stamping your feet in the snow
smashing countless snowflakes -
six lines of symmetry to infinity.

The number 44 just passed;
only three more minutes to go
(but it could be forever).

A standard grave is 6 feet deep.
But there were only 2.1 inches in me
at exactly twelve and a half weeks
(not a standard lifespan).
Five minutes, now eternity.

Ilana Botha