Since moving to Edinburgh, I’ve rediscovered white dead nettle – a flowering, stingless version of ordinary nettle. I remember it from my childhood, though it feels like many years since I’ve seen it. There’s also purple dead nettle, though I’ve not seen that here.
I found pen and ink very difficult. I didn’t have a ‘proper’ pen – my teacher encouraged me to use a broken stick. The results were much more unpredictable and uncontrollable. Sometimes better for that, sometimes worse. I built up the paper so that the drawing has texture – it’s made of layers of tissue paper and white paint. I also scored the paper to add more texture and to mimic the lines of writing paper. I nearly broke my poor printer printing the poem in the corner!
My latest project has been to make a hand-made collection of a short sequence of poems, illustrated with black and white drawings. I took ‘flowers’ as my subject and chose four particular plants to draw and write about. The picture above is a charcoal rubout of a dandelion, with a poem called ‘Dandelion Wine’ which I printed onto the picture afterwards.
My very first ‘political’ poem – in that it’s about a politician – has been published by the exciting New Boots and Pantisocracies blog. Check them out – a poem a day for 100 days – telling it like it is, in these strange post-GE2015 days.
Here’s the opening of my poem. For the rest, click here and support this brilliant endeavour.
WHAT NICOLA KNOWS
Worrying about Nicola Sturgeon’s sleep
keeps me awake the night before the general election.
Three to four hours a night, she tells us on the radio.
I wake at three, wondering if she’s up.
I get her sorted: Vote first thing, then pep talks
for candidates. The afternoon’s for sleep.
She slips off her stilettos, lies fully clothed
on the bed’s shiny cover. Her tights crackle with static.