26 September 2015

Louise Bourgeois at the Museo Picasso, Malaga

I have been impressed by Ms Bourgeois before, and have watched a short documentary, some time, somewhere, where Tracey Emin spends time with her at her apartment in Paris. Emin was very likeable, Bourgeois a mysterious tiny bone-built creature. The exhibition at the Museo Picasso was sensual, bloody, intimate, discomforting, funny, tragic - an absolute beaut. I went with the Esteemed Aunt and our young charge, the junior doctor, neither of whom are huge gallery fans - but they both came away with a lot to say, and much of it emotionally charged, replete, a sense that especially for the Esteemed One it had really affected her. 

Bourgeois is an intensely personal artist, and her eclectic use of texture, shape and style does not hide the pulsating, visceral, sensory explosion of her work. It was quite exhilarating. 

And of course, there were her spiders. Which I loved. But the junior doctor thought then somewhat second rate. 

I am clearly thrilled by and in awe of these marvellous insects of destiny. 

Bolaño at the Matadero, Madrid

The Swimmer and I went on a visit to the Matadero, a place I hadn't been to for years. I'd been to a rave there many years ago but since it has been so beautifully renovated I haven't. It made the Swimmer throw up her hands with joy. 

It's an incredible space and, de repente, we came across a Roberto Bolaño exhibition. I've read a few of his sprawling, over-spilling works and so far so good, but I have made a list of more to read. At the Archivo Bolaño the Swimmer and I were presented with a huge array of personal effects, pamphlets, family photos and youthful manifesti. 

It was more of a trawl and a moment to cherish the cool and quiet of the gallery in an extremely sweltering Madrid. But one thing caught my eye especially. 

I love these 'ridiculous and heroic' poets of ages past, I love the emotional plea to read, and I love this late 1970s work that was his last collection of poetry and published four years after his death, and dedicated to his son, Lautaro.  

Look after your books! Read the poets! Listen to their song! 

24 September 2015

Two heroes

When I was in Madrid I took the opportunity to greet two heroes. I stood in front of them, and thought, and said their words, and thought of friends, and smiled. With Lorca, I touched -- his spirit is strong and is very invigorating. 

                 (Benito Peréz Galdós)

Barcelona, the Jewish quarter

These few posts are just catching up on a long sojourn in Spain. My interest in Jewish history comes from two areas: firstly, because having spent so much time in Spain over the past 12 years I resent its deeply Christian-centric modern view of history; secondly, because more recently I found out that my great-great-great (and perhaps one more great) grandfather came over from Germany (Brunswick) sometime in the 1820s or 1830s. He settled in Bethnal Green and started a dynasty of cabinet makers. I went to his shop, now a house, in Bethnal Green, and it was opposite a synagogue that would have been there I think even then. I was there with the Photographer, and later he and I went to Siena, where we visited the synagogue, very near yet so far from the pomp and circumstance of the big churches and cathedrals. We loved it. So now I make more of an effort to see this side of European history. I also went to the synagogue in Córdoba. Again, quite tiny and beautiful.

The synagogue in Barcelona's Jewish quarter had such a low ceiling I had to almost crawl to enter! But it was worth it. There are also some even more ancient remains. The Sinagoga Major de Barcelona is supposed to be one of the oldest in Europe. It's medieval, as is the quarter where it is found. I was on the hunt to find out if Spinoza's father had worshipped here, but I think I was just having a daydream. Anyway, a tiny and marvellous hidden gem. 

22 September 2015

'collared dove / a browncream flutter'

This blog's been having a rest. Time compressed itself, then expanded out, and then dimmed - but the blog was here all the time, or at least hanging in a virtual cloud, waiting for me to come back. Where have I been? What have I done? 'What is illuminated – where is it I see, the collared dove / a browncream flutter in the peripheral – / on gazing upon the lion on its column & the town’s/ squat gate, with the arrow loops?' Is that a horse, cantering furiously in the corner of my eye? Or have I got an eye-twitch? Why is my music suddenly silent, as if a tiny elf had slipped under the table and cut the wire to the machine? Why is one of Francis Bacon's half-faced popes blazing a trail into my brain? Why is Henry Miller's 'work schedule 1932-1933' such a crucial part of my daily ritual? Why is my garden full of spiders? Why did I swear at my laptop yesterday? How can two brands of camomile tea have such different flavours? Why do I still love that t-shirt with the otter on, even though said otter has faded and now resembles a penis? Is that penis the true symbol for what the otter thought it represented? Am I a cock? Where is my music? Where is that bloody elf? 

I'm really sorry I can't answer any of these questions.
I can, however, offer you a few morsels of poetry to keep you feeding at this trough of shame. I had one of my poems published at New Boots and Pantisocracies, which is Andy Jackson and Bill Herbert's post-election poetry project, which has now grown legs like a caterpillar and marched well past the one hundred days it allotted to itself. You can read 'Masters' here. I also wrote a poem for Jack Thacker and his project at the University of Bristol, about a seedy bath-house that would have been outside Bristol city limits when it is set, in Coleridge's time. If you want to read that you will have to download the app, which is a rather marvellous state of modern affairs, and is called 'Romantic Bristol: Writing the City', which you could download for your smartphone here. I also wrote a review of Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson's collection #UntitledOne, which is a collection of Neu Reekie's finest moments, for Sabotage Reviews. I also wrote an article for the trailblazing journal that Kevin Williamson is involved with called Bella Caledonia. That article is called 'Franco's Face' and you can read it here.
Should have some more poetry news soon - and some readings. Will keep my huge and constantly transmogrifying readership posted. Don't go asking too many questions.