Tag Archives: Travel

Ai Weiwei (quadrille)

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Ai Weiwei (quadrille)

I first came across Ai Wewei
in a gallery on the banks of the Guadalquivir
that river that runs through Seville
and although I admit
he has many arrows
in his artistic quiver
for me, his art fails to deliver
that shiver, that thrill.

 

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a quadrille (44 word poem) using the word “quiver”.

After getting a few comments on this post, I decided to add in a bit more detail, it’s hard to provide a balanced viewpoint with just 44 words .

 

I first became aware of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Seville of all places. I was walking north along the east bank of the Guadalquiver on my last day in that beautiful exciting sunny city. This section of the east bank does not have much to offer – unless you like graffiti covered vacant lots. I came across a roller blade/skate boarder park where there was a competition going on – elaborate flips, balancing tricks, spectacular wipe-outs, lots of black, lots of tattoos, some magenta hair, Spanish rap music. Looking across to the west bank of the river I saw a brick chimney and what appeared to be a series of bottle-shaped kilns. I crossed the river at the next bridge and using the chimney as a guide I found myself in a museum of contemporary art, the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC).
The museum is housed in a building with quite a history. It started out as monastery, was used as a barracks in the Napolean invasion, then became the site of ceramics factory (hence, the kilns) and finally in 1997 became the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC). In the grounds of the museum are various chapels, the priory cell, church, the sacristy, cloisters, monks’ chapter, refectory, gardens and orchards.
Inside the museum, there was an exhibition of the works of the Chinese artist and dissident, Ai Weiwei. The focal point of the exhibition was Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds” project which was first shown at the Tate Modern in London where he covered the floor of the Turbine Hall with a layer of hand-crafted porcelain sunflower seeds, a total of 100,000,000 seeds, with a combined weight of 150 tons.
It took more than 1,600 Chinese artisans two and a half years to manufacture this pile of ceramic seeds; each seed is hand-painted and unique, a huge and costly undertaking.
The Seville installation was a smaller version of the Tate installation, consisting of 5 tons of seeds spread like a carpet on the floor of a white-walled room. Outside the room, a video played providing information on the project and showing the artisans working on the production of the seeds. It also showed footage of the original Tate exhibition.
I have to admit that while I could appreciate the sheer effort that went into this piece, and having listened to the video explaining its significance and read further how one of the artist’s intentions is to draw attention to Chinese mass production practices, practices that serve western consumerism at the expense of the individual, as a work of art, it left me completely cold, visually bored. The English poet, Rosemary Tonks, said “The main duty of the poet is to excite – to send the senses reeling” and the same could be said of art in general. Ai Weiwei is a sincere and brave person and there were other Ai Weiwel works on show which better highlighted his talent as an artist, it’s just that this piece, despite the gargantuan effort that went into its production had no visceral impact on me whatsoever.
That is not to take away from the fact that my unplanned visit to Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC) was one of the highlights of my visit to Seville. Though modest in size, the grounds, history and the placement of contemporary art in the white walled hush of a Carthusian monastery is an experience that should not be missed.

 

 

The Food on Air Canada Rouge (redux)

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The Food on Air Canada Rouge

What’s worse than a summer deluge?
What’s worse than Christmas with Ebeneezer Scrooge?
What’s worse than a ride on a runaway luge?
the food on Air Canada Rouge.

What’s worse than a sequel to “In Bruges”?
What’s worse than a night in a crowded refuge?
(the air, loud with snores, the air a flatulent brew)
What’s worse than another night in the same refuge?
the food on Air Canada Rouge.

Air Canada Rouge is a no frills version of a no frills airline. Last year, I travelled with them from Barcelona to Toronto and it was a long nine hours – the on board entertainment system (download an app, sign on to on board Wi-Fi) didn’t work, legroom was minimal, service was begrudging, and as for the food, see above.

The prompt from Lisa over at dVerse is to write a poem on the subject of food, so I thought I would give this post another outing!

There’s Nothing Like Being

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There’s Nothing Like Being

There’s nothing like being
in a crowded bar
in a foreign city
on a Friday evening
just after five
and you don’t know anyone
but it doesn’t matter
and you can’t speak the language
but it doesn’t matter
it’s enough to be there
to breathe in the relief
to share the belief
that Monday morning
is a life time away.

 

The prompt over at dVerse is to write a poem about movement, where am I going, where have I been.

The Water Taxi Arrives (Caye Caulker Chronicles Take 2)

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The Water Taxi Arrives (Caye Caulker Chronicles Take 2)

like Sherpas in search of an expedition
the backpackers tumble onto the dock
clutching Lonely Planet guidebooks
it’s nowhere near as lonely here
as their guidebooks promise
but it is part of the planet
they got that right
it is part of the planet.

(in the café below
Bob Marley is still jammin’
the locals talk of paradise lost
of Eve and apples bitten.)

This is a rewrite of a previous post.

Stock Market (a tanka)

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Stock Market

a bear is on the loose
the once priapic market
losing altitude

false hopes and false dreams for sale
nothing tangible.

 

This is response to the dVerse prompt to write about markets. It’s a haiku that I have upgraded (?) to a tanka, check out the poetry over at dVerse, some excellent market poems.

The photo is of an actual market in Sicily.

 

 

Walk (Dublin 2016)…poem

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Walk (Dublin 2016)

In Iveagh gardens an exhibition promises:
Contemporary sculpture based on
Non-monumental ideas of the uncanny.
This phrase sticks like chewing gum
To the bedpost of my mind
As I walk through Stephen’s Green,
Replacing: One then offers the cat up to the aperture
Which, according to my brother,
Is the ultimate step in programming
One’s automatic cat door to accept
One’s micro-chipped cat.
Outside the Shelbourne Hotel
Tourists wearing horned helmets
Board a Viking ship on wheels.
I am in search of a pub sandwich
Two slices of white bread, ham, cheese ,
Toasted in a cellophane pack
Small jar of mustard on the side
Served with Guinness
In a quiet pub where I can sit
And think non monumental thoughts
And where the barman asks me
As we watch Lionel Messi
float past three transfixed defenders
Is he the best ever?
And I am surprised not at the question
But at the deference.

The challenge from Anmol over at dverse, is to write a poem on the subject of walking and observing. This poem was written after a trip back to my home town of Dublin. Walking around one’s home town is not so much about looking for the new as it is about re-discovering the past; it’s more about the memories that the place holds rather than the physical aspect of the place. It’s also about trying to recover a feeling or an experience from the past.

The photo is of Dublin from Sandymount Strand, and of course, Joyce’s “snot-green, scrotum-tightening sea”.

(The poem appeared previously in the Galway Review)

 

 

 

So Long, Halong (Poem)

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So Long, Halong

As we ride out of Cat Ba

through a valley circled

by limestone crags,

a compilation of pop ballads

 

from the seventies and eighties

oozes from the speakers

and the affable English backpackers

at the back of the bus

 

groan in faux horror

as Aerosmith follows Bryan Adams

follows George Michaels

follows Michael Jackson

 

but when the Bee Gees launch

“How Deep Is Your Love”

the backpackers quieten down

and the driver stops honking his horn

 

at the dogs, children, women

in cone hats and cyclists

with finely balanced cargos

who drift carelessly

 

in front of the bus

as if it was an invisible

visitor from the future,

and we all strain against

 

the tug of the song’s chorus

far too cool to sing along

except for one backpacker

let’s call him Nigel

 

or Christian, or Jason, or Justin

who, in a high piping voice

declares his oneness

with the song’s embattled lovers.

 

This poem was first published in Oddball Magazine, and is a re-post from 2016. Participating in Open Link Night over at dVerse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caye Caulker Chronicles (poem)

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Caye Caulker Chronicles

1

skinny backpackers
tumble off the water taxi
clutching Lonely Planet guidebooks,
in the café below
Bob Marley’s still jammin’
the locals talk of Paradise spoilt
of Eve, Adam and apples bitten.

2

Out on the coral reef
tiny organisms
fret about climate change
and carbonic acid
(I fink the pH is dropping, I really do);
while over in San Pedro
on the Redneck Riviera
soccer moms mingle
with sun-damaged matrons
dedicated to the preservation
of floral print muumuus.

 

…participating in open link night over at dVerse (thanks Mish), check them out.