On One Younger Than I Am

Algernon Newton

xON ONE YOUNGER THAN I AM

Taken all too soon, a friend has flatlined and is now

Out of the picture. Which picture is meant? What does it show?

Immobility? This painting of these clouds above

Those chimneys on that day. Might it suggest just that?

x

A stillness which is how it seems on some windless

Afternoon? A stretch of grandiose pageantry?

We know its stationary quality for an attractive lie.

Even chimneys have their day. Time’s breezes overtake

x

The world’s rotation. Also the clouds keep changing

In relation to each other. Some will evaporate faster than

Their neighbours – who may say that they were taken

Far too soon. Some will break, pour down, soaking the lawn.

x

Some rise up higher, changing their nature, floating

In a sky more rarified. Only in the moment, as we glance,

Is there a coherent view, a fleeting notion of a generation.

Every cloudscape has its hour, and yes, our being here

x

Conveys a sense of lasting. Yes, we make our lives

Together, even if there are those fated to disappear

Sooner than expected. Generations move like caravans

Crossing the waste. One may start off earlier than the next,

x

Ending the trek just as the other sights its destination.

Sooner than is meant, we say of one who has made us aware

If only for a while, of how we have made the world

In which we have shared; tapestry woven together by

x

The threads we are – the scene rolls on only in our relationships.

Rolls on and away, as the clouds have done since clouds

Began – our best hope being that it is with pride

That we can say that we were the clouds that sailed together

x

And on, beyond the revolving horizon, on a particular day.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“The Weather” – exhibition at The Room/Poetry Reading/Cloud Performance for Kids

There is an exhibition in homage to Luke Howard ‘Namer of Clouds’ on his 250th anniversary at The Room, 33 Holcombe Road N17 9AS – 15 November 2022-14 December 2022.

Martine Ormerod
Albert Marquet – Waiting for a Ferry on the Danube
James McBey – View of Dunkirk
Johann Geyer – Balloonists – Courtesy of Agnews Fine Art
John Lindoll? – The Broads
Paul Mictchell – Train and Light
Paul Mitchell – 1960s Birmingham Road
Algernon Newton – Chimneys
Arnesby Brown – Pines and Clouds
Anonymous – Clouds and Cows
Anthony Howell – Clouds and pylons
Anthony Howell – Clouds, Steam and Sheep
Luke Howard’s plaque – Bruce Grove, Tottenham

Also included – Sandie Macrae’s film “The Most Beautiful Shadow of a Doubt”.

Open Mike Poetry Reading at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 22 November, and then viewing by appointment after the opening. This is part of a whole series of events in Tottenham – at the Hub Recreation Centre and at Bruce Castle museum.

Full programme here – https://anthonyhowelljournal.com/2022/10/16/luke-howard-namer-of-clouds-250th-anniversary/

And finally Help me Turn Kids into Clouds – call out for kids, parents, teachers, dancers, performance artists – for a childrens performance art event on Saturday 26 November (weather permitting) at 11.30 for 12 at The Lordship Hub Cafe https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d9556659-Reviews-The_Lordship_Hub_Cafe-London_England.html#MAPVIEW

For the performance, bring a single flat sheet, pale in colour.

Cloud rehearsal with the cubs

CLOUD EXERCISES

Equipment. One single flat sheet per performer. Costume: white, grey or pink.

HOLD ON TIGHTLY TO THE ENDS OF YOUR SHEET – The Short ends!

1 CLOUD SAILS/CLOUD TRAILS

Fill a shared sheet with the wind. Walk or run with it.  Or each performer may take a single sheet and run as fast as they can with it, so that the sheet flaps in the wind in their wake. Run around an in between other performers, who may be performing another exercise. That is fine. You are the wisps of cloud under and beneath and around the edges of other clouds.

2  CLOUD ROTATIONS AND RIPPLES

Share the shake of the sheet, one of you at each short end. Rotate your sheet on the spot with a sheet shared like this with a partner – which could be interesting done increasingly fast or slow. Then really slow the action down to doing it so slowly no one can see you moving.

Can you turn inside out? That is, start facing each other and then work out how to turn under your arms and end up facing outwards? Can you reverse and get back to facing each other without twisting the sheet?

Or try folding the sheet so that it is half as wide. The folded width of a single sheet can be held by its folded corner right up next to that performer’s shoulder and the other corner held in the same way by a partner so that the folded sheet dangles down to their ankles.

Now you can revolve in towards your partner, and your partner can do the same. You can both do this standing up or rolling on the ground (depending on the weather). Explore all possibilities. Try working in sixes (three pairs) – what patterns can be made?

3 A CLOUD QUARTET

Two sheets shared by four performers ducking under and over their sheets. Perhaps this could be done in an avenue of performers – in the manner of English country dancing.

4 LONELY CLOUD/ONLY CLOUD

If alone, what can you do with your sheet?…….. Can you put it over your head? Can you twirl round, hidden by the sheet. What else can you do?

5 LARGE CUMULUS GROUP CLOUD

Three performers face outwards each holding one corner of the short end of a sheet, thus they are holding three sheets in an outward facing circle, and one performer takes up the sheet at the other short end, but holding the two short-end corners as do another two performers with the other two sheets. Now we have a sort of cloud three-leafed clover. One performer gets into the middle of the circle and improvises with their own sheet, as the other performers step sideways, slowly revolving the whole combination. This requires seven performers. Four sheets.

It can also be performed by six performers forming an outward-facing circle, connected by six sheets, with six performers using both hands to hold the other ends of the sheets. Now there can be two performers sharing one sheet in the centre of this larger circle. This takes fourteen performers. Seven sheets.

To parents, dancers, performance artists, group leaders: this performance will depend on your own creativity and the creativity of your teams. I suggest working with unelasticated single flat sheets – but some of you may get ideas for double sheets. Clouds can be white, grey, pink. Remember, simple actions can look great en masse. Actions can be shuffled or staggered or done at the same time or done in opposing directions. Actions may seem tentative at first, but with practise a very simple action becomes crisp and disciplined. A drone will film the performance from above as well as from the ground, and the best view will be the one from above. Imagine the grass as the sky and we are painting clouds in it.

              Clouds move slowly as well as fast. Instil this idea in your performers. Use acceleration and deacceleration. Sometimes try moving so – which is often true of clouds. So the performance of any of the ideas suggested below might begin fast and end up so slow no one can see any movement – or vice versa.

Repetition will be of the essence in what you do, and the more you repeat, the smoother and the more controlled the actions will become.

              Encourage everyone to come up with new ideas, and use any that seem promising.

              If some of your team are particularly interested in video, create a film team which works towards making an excellent video of the final performance. They will need practise as well, and they may pick up excellent out-takes (short footage of details) which can be useful later.

              I present a few suggestions, but it is up to each team to create its own cloud performance. We might finally do these performances one performance at a time, and then, use the entire field to perform all of them simultaneously. Then we will have a cloudscape! Mixing the exercises, performing exercises simultaneously, or all performing one (such as Exercise 7) at the same time are what will create our cloud performance.

              And on the day, come with macs, and headgear and gumboots – just in case it rains.

              When sharing another performer’s sheet, tie your own sheet around your waist. Work out a fancy way to do this that doesn’t take too long to do.

Anthony

Posted in art, Dance, Performance Art, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Difficulty in Poetry

Escher

A new essay in The Fortnightly Review!

Posted in Essays, Poetry, Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Different Countries View War

FILM - Come and See (1985) - Tribunnewswiki.com

Andrei Martyanov (SmoothieX12 on Youtube) cites the movie Come and See when he explains in the second part of a post called Economics of Military Industrial Complexes in Russia and US how the Russians conceive of war and how the US conceives of it.

A week ago, as I was watching The Professionals with growing admiration for its writer Richard Brookes, it struck me that the ultimate crystallisation of portraiture where America and Americans is concerned is the Western. The genre provides, more than the thriller, which has its roots in the policier of French cinema, a cheap-enough stage (desert being the most of what it needs) for a minimalised, ruggedly pastoral version of America’s tragedies, farces and  subterfuges to find expression. Brookes has been compared to Chekhov.

There’s a gang of vets from some war or another. There’s a deal. Authority is a long way away, and in this case Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin have long since parted with authority. Woody Strode and Robert Ryan back them up. They are all into the deal for the money. Strode is black. A tracker. Ryan is a bronco buster. The logistics of keeping their horses alive is essential to the trek the deal entails. So they are a mixed bunch.

There’s a client. For the money their allegiance is to him. For the gang, violence is expeditionary – they have fought for Mexican revolutionaries – more for the adventure than for the cause of independence. And this holds true for most US military initiatives. They are not fighting for the survival of their families. Essentially they are mercenaries. And the desert backdrop could be replaced by a swamp. A swamp of deals, clients and gangs.

So in terms of genres – America might be epitomised by the Western, France by the policier, Britain by historical costume drama and Russia by the war movie.

Of these Come and See is perhaps one of the most powerful – it shows how, for the Russians, war is conceived as existential rather than expeditionary – the Russian is fighting for the actual survival of his or her family, fighting against occupation and ethnic cleansing. Patriotism is born out of necessity.

Netflix has just brought out a German view of war – All Quiet on the Western Front – after the best-selling novel by Erich Maria Remarque – and here war is seen as entrapment by patriotism.

It also shows us the sheer horror, the humiliating brutality of defeat. This too is a powerful film – and I find it interesting how a book recently published by Grey Suit Editions UK – The Cross of Carl by Walter Owen, a halucinatory evocation – arrives at an expression of the same sense of war as terrifying and grotesque.

Britain’s war films abound in tales of “derring do”, suspense and tension and spies – in the spirit of the SAS or MI6 – and of course, if nostalgically now, the navy.

The Dam Busters, Above us the Waves

and Carve her Name with Pride demonstrate these values.

And America? Well, if we want to be up-to-date, it has to be Top Gun Maverick 2022. Nuff said.

Come and See can be watched for free on Youtube.

Posted in Essays, Politics, Reviews, Uncategorized, war | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Canoe

A story by David Plante

Posted in FICTION, Grey Suit Editions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Luke Howard – Namer of Clouds – 250th anniversary

James McBey, View of Dunkirk

Tottenham is celebrating Luke Howard

The father of meteorology!

Here is a link to the exhibitions page at The Room

CLOUD FORMS

x

When, from the water’s quiet mirror,

A mist floats off like a carpet   

And the moon, wrapped in its undulations,

Revels in a haunted, haunting play,

Then we are pleased as children;

Watching it lift up the mountain,

Deepen and then spread,

Bar after bar, to become the sort

Of lowering sky that can go either way:

Soak us or pass on, overhead.

x

And if from there it should be raised

Up to a thinner atmosphere

How firmly based, how crisp it seems,

Towering, gathering all its splendour

For a proclamation on the plenitude of power

(Since what we fear may well be our fate).

We tremble in the shadow of its threatening.

x

Say it climbs higher still;

The threat now utterly removed

Into a heavenly lightness,

A mere something there that dissolves

Ever so softly; less than a patter of fleeces

Moving, deliciously combed,

Upwards from below, towards

Their Shepherd, into his lap and hand.

x

Yet all must be brought down

By the weight of our world.

Pierced, when dense and very large,

The stack must thunderously

Discharge, as armies do that roll out

In splendid array only to disintegrate;

The earth then receiving their remains.

But keep the eye on where it frays,

Describing what comes down while feeling

That it’s upwards we should always gaze.

x

After Goethe –  stratus, cumulus, cirrus, nimbus 

x

HOMAGE TO HOWARD

x

Holy mountain, realm of seem.

Goaded by a breeze, it sways,

As if some flimsy palanquin

Whose gathered gauzes drift apart.

It glories in continuous metamorphosis,

Now immobile, now a dream:

Can you see it and believe your eyes?

x

Trust to the strength of your own projection,

Choosing to define, while the indefinite

Ramps a lion or unfurls an elephant

Or turns a camel’s neck into a Jabberwock

– Until the army of barmy

Images wrecks itself on a rock.

The trumpeter heralds his own dissolution

Well before a judgement can be sounded.

x

Yet Howard gave us an instrument

For getting the airborne grounded

By latching on to the gone, and firming up

The ephemeral.  He was the first to hold it fast

By naming drifts, compactions,

Dispersals and descents,

For which the planet offers thanks.

x

Luke Howard, “Namer of Clouds”, (1772 – 1864) – after Goethe 

Both versions by Anthony Howell

The story goes that when Luke Howard received these poems in the post he could not believe that they were really from Goethe and threw them into the waste-paper bin!

And please put in your diary the 22 November – Poetry reading on ‘The weather’ – open mike – starting at 7 pm at The Room.

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Odin at the Well

An African Odin

My friend, the artist Anthony McCall, gave me Thinking in Circles: an essay on ring composition by Mary Douglas. He observed that much of my work in performance art and in writing has had a circularity to its composition. His visit coincided with a talk I went to by the physicist Carlo Rovelli and the artist Cornelia Parker at the Conway Hall. Quantum theory, mythology and circularity somehow came together to inspire this longish poem. 

Were one to read it in one go, the circularity which is its kernal and its perimeter would become apparent. But that is a tall order, I realise. Next year I hope to work with the poet/dancer Scott Thurston on a performance where I may recite the poem to accompany his actions. Meanwhile The Fortnightly Review have just published the poem in its entirety, much to my amazement and joy. The link is below:

Odin at the Well

Posted in Dance, Performance Art, Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Gardner’s New and Selected Poems – a new review

Here is a link to an excellent review of Donald Gardner’s New and Selected Poems – published in LONDON GRIP

And here are other links to follow up – a film of Donald reading ‘Hardly News’

And a link to the book itself – proudly published by Grey Suit Editions UK

 

Posted in Grey Suit Editions, Poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Romance at the Demo

A demonstrator wearing a whistle mask gestures during a protest outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, where a case management hearing in the U.S. extradition case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is held, in London, Britain, October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls – RC1A6C22C390

It’s warm but not quite hot. Under the blue, in our anoraks

We are lining up to surround Westminster

Bringing with us our hands. Yai, my friend from Thailand,

Only a year or two younger than I am, takes a photo

Of me remembering to suck my midriff in,

Halfway across the Thames. Then I lean my back against

The solid balustrade as gulls glide overhead

And a pretty young woman takes up the space to my right.

x

Lock up ugly Patel! We laugh, as slogan-banded crowds

Head past us, bemusing the tourists on the bridge’s

Other side that faces London’s looming wheel.

Everything feels large from here. More and more of us

Surge on so as to continue our chain along the far embankment.

First we start to chant and then we start to chat.

We’ll need more than this, we think, but a whistle-headed one of us

Plus a soulful dog in a pram and the witch of seven veils

x

And several more demonstrative monstrosities

Continue to increase this encirclement of our vindictive

Houses of parliament. The wench beside me pulls her velvet

Outer-wear over her blond head since it’s grown suddenly hot.

Yai leans into my left. She’s messaging relations in Bangkok,

Puzzled as to what she may be demonstrating about.

Meghan’s come down from High Barnet – thirty something

At a guess – just the enthusiastic sort I’ve always been attracted to

x

And, I must confess, still am at high tide, enjoying this October blue.

Our chat is a matter of lively responses, though just as I

Suck in my midriff for a pic, I am trying to keep in check

That passionate part of me, my heart. My own years

See other years from an altered point of view

Yet with the same appreciative eyes. How will I remember her,

How visualise her upturned face, I ask myself

At seventy-seven – no longer even sixty-nine –

x

The demonstration taking second place in my attention.

What a fraud I am! Pulling out my latest collection

To give to her, brought with me especially

For such an eventuality as this has just turned out to be.

But now it’s time for all our hands to join

And I have Yai’s in mine and Meghan’s. Is this bliss or what?

I sense our fingers forming an intimate knot.

The Thames runs glittering past below our feet.   

 

*

A chain for Assange – 8 October 2022

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Politics, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Lit | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Invention of Reality

My new collection of poems has now been published by The High Window

Very pleased to see it out, and many thanks to David Cooke. 

Posted in Key Links, Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment