Strangers – Matt and Jeren – SST5 Poem for Feedback Please!

10 May

Ok, so me and Jeren have gone over this a few times and this is a first draft. We feel that it is a fairly presentable first draft and this definitely isn’t an apology, but bear that in mind.

So . . . We’re trying to create a narrative structure to this piece. Does that come across strongly? Could it be improved? We already have some ideas on how this could be improved but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Are mine and Jeren’s lines split in the right places? Are both stories still prominent enough? In terms of structure, specific feedback would be particularly helpful – ‘this section earlier, this section later’, etc.

Much of the language is underdressed, as we have been focusing on the structure. Does this underdressed nature work or not?

Very much looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Huge thanks,

Matt and Jeren . . .

Edit:

Timing; roughly 5 minutes.

Theme: Two strangers meet on a train and reveal themselves to each other.

Strangers

M + J: How much do you reveal to strangers?

J: I blow away memories like dandelion seeds –

They keep circulating, stuck in my breath.

M: I never grew in my hometown,

Rejected the culture of football playgrounds,

Softened my accent, a bid to be different,

Better maybe, distinctive.

J: Ashgabat is slowly being erased.

M: We met on a train, backdropped by hills

That backed into clouds that we both sat

And measured the shape of.

M+J: We told stories

M: What’s Ashgabat?

J: A place where the kettle is on the stove 24/7.

Gas there is God-given. A city.

M: Your home?

J: It was once, long ago.

Matt breaks out to audience

 

M: She was a talker, and I was in no mood for talking.

I’d sat by the window to lose myself in the branches

of lone trees on desolate hilltops and think of nothing.

I don’t approach strangers, no desire for their closeness,

And when approached I fabricate myself from loose-woven desires.

J: I sat across from him. He avoided my eyes.

To Matt

 

J: Have you heard of Turkmenistan?

M: I’ve been. I joined the circus when I was twelve.

We delved deep into Asia. Turkmenistan was one of the first

Places we stopped.

J: How long did you stay?

M: A few months or so.

J: Do you remember the language?

M: It was years and years ago.

To audience

 

M: I avoided her eyes, felt sure she detected

The thread of my lies, tried hard to pretend not to care.

I had no story. I changed to the weather, the conversation fallback

Of my national heritage

To Jeren

 

It’s a nice evening

J: England’s pleasant.

M: It’s falling apart.

J: It’s keeping me together. Apart from one time –

M: What time?

J: The mould outside 56 Mortimer Street, Oldham,

the playground of my barely english speaking garble

at the age of eight positive turned into the torture zone

of the kids at 54.

M: I’d packed myself into boxes,

A different bit in each box, nailed the lids,

Here my eyes, here my lungs –

I couldn’t deal with this. I stared at the flashing

Countryside and tried hard not to listen

J: I was making grass necklaces for my mother.

They had approached me, the girl and her brother,

Holding a branch between them – a big branch –

That had fallen from a nearby tree.

Smirking they had advanced me,

to the point where

there was no more treading space.

M: She had advanced me to the point

where there was no more headspace to hide in.

Here my kidneys, here my mind.

She told me her story, and like chalkboard screeching,

I began to listen.

J: my heart dropped along with my feet

as they slipped on the typically wet grass

on the slope outside 56 Mortimer street.

M: My stomach screamed, barely audible.

I don’t want this!

J: I tried running,

M: I couldn’t run

J: but the mountain was too steep

and my eyes too blurry.

M: I sat on top of the boxes I’d packed

My separate pieces in, weighed them down

With here a hand, here a buttock, here a foot.

J: So I fell.

Closed my eyes

and tried to avoid the slugs

that were hidden in the grass blades.

but nothing blocked the images from my mind

each squelch was one.

Stopped rolling, limbered up and ran

ignoring the pain in my arm

trying to make sense of the ringing torments.

M: I have no lips to love with, all is locked.

My screaming stomach grew louder and louder.

J: I cried and hoped my mother would hear me

through the letterbox

salvia was dry and my tongue out of use.

M: I cried, ‘What’s the point!’

‘What’s the point in this?’ this expulsion?

This telling?

J: These are stories. That’s all the point there needs to be.

You have no idea of my relief when

the door of 56 opened

and I fell in.

M: I felt the lids warp and buckle, prising open.

J: To my mother’s embrace

M: What do I have?

For years, I wore a pillow as a head.

J: which drowned my tears.

M: What do I have?

The longer I waited, the greater the weight

Of the wait became.

What do I have?

J: My throat could hardly tell her the story.

Who are you really?

M: Banker.

J: Tell me again

M: Painter.

J: I almost believed you there. Again.

M: Piece by piece,

I released myself from my boxes,

My eyes, my lungs, my legs,

My toes, my nose, my chest,

All grown over with algae and wheezing,

Barely breathing, my stomach restless and eager

Reached for roots, it’s still heaving.

J: I stopped, my throat ready to tell

The next story, realised I may have said too much,

Stood up, walked into the next carriage

And never saw him again.

M: Got off at the next stop.

Not a banker, painter, trapeze artist

In the Turkmenistan circus.

I was nothing. In the end, the boxes

Didn’t matter.

J: I wonder whether he’s ever told the truth again

M: I wonder if she ever forgot about Ashgabat

J: For that short time,

(M+J): we told stories

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2 Responses to “Strangers – Matt and Jeren – SST5 Poem for Feedback Please!”

  1. mouthypoets May 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I put some thoughts below in between the —– marks

    I think the structure here works. I think it’s abruptness in places is in keeping with how the conversation would go with two strangers. The main point here is not in the structure but in how you perform this. This can work very very well and be captivating but you gotta know it inside out so that you can work at the non verbal relationship betw you both as you read it. If it just sounds as two people exchanging stanzas it won’t be as powerful as you both actually doing this full on. I think worry less about the words (they work) and more on the practice and owning of this betw you both. Hope that helps

    M + J: How much do you reveal to strangers?

    J: I blow away memories like dandelion seeds –

    They keep circulating, stuck in my breath.

    —–Matt go in too early she blows away memories. What do you do
    Then go to the next line ——
    M: I never grew in my hometown,

    Rejected the culture of football playgrounds,

    Softened my accent, a bid to be different,

    Better maybe, distinctive.

    J: Ashgabat is slowly being erased.

    M: We met on a train, backdropped by hills

    That backed into clouds that we both sat

    And measured the shape of.

    M+J: We told stories

    M: What’s Ashgabat?

    J: A place where the kettle is on the stove 24/7.

    Gas there is God-given. A city.

    M: Your home?

    J: It was once, long ago.

    Matt breaks out to audience

    M: She was a talker, and I was in no mood for talking.
    —— You say your in no mood for talking but you already started. This line maybe earlier —–

    I’d sat by the window to lose myself in the branches

  2. Matt May 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Thanks very much for this

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