Monday, 9 June 2014

Between here and there

Entering the Hindu Temple at the Indian Association building
in Oldham.

Project: Making Memories. We've worked at many venues in Oldham over the last two years, using objects to stimulate creative reminiscence. 

Phil writes:

Once again in the Hindu temple, the sounds and the colours. Outside it's a grey, cold Oldham morning, but in here are rich textures for all the senses. Golds, pinks, purples. The smell of cooking gently warms the air with spices. The gods are in their shrines, people come in, greet one another. A bell is rung, chanting starts.

We've run several highly productive workshop sessions here at the temple and the welcome has always been warm and generous. I'm now here as part of our finishing-up process, to show people some of the work they've done, answer questions, take photos and record sound, make neatness of the loose ends. It's a pleasure to be back in the temple, and a sadness too. When I leave, I feel suddenly downcast, out in the grey again.

What has been fascinating for me during the project is hearing of people's life journeys to this place, which often stretch across two cultures and two or more continents. Many of the people we've worked with at the temple arrived in the UK in the 1970s or 80s, having spent their childhoods in India, Pakistan, Uganda. The details of their journeys and arrivals have been the subject of several poems, which we've shared on this blog in recent months.

Today's mission: a poem-making process that explores dual identity. Each verse has to discuss some element of double-ness, duality, pairing, or halving. The form is very simple - it is simply a set of questions. One of the women at the temple tested this out with a fascinating piece - a journey from Gujarat to Oldham, which we'll feature in a separate blog. As with any of our ideas, this exercise can be freely adapted, chopped and changed, or totally reinvented.

Between here and there

For each pair of questions question, write a verse in reply. The verses much each be the same length, whatever length or style suits. Mention both the 'here' and the 'there' in each verse. Answer as many questions as you like:

What is your clearest memory of your childhood country - and your first impression of your new home in Britain?

Who accepted you, who rejected you?

What did you learn, what did you lose?

Who do you miss, who have you met?

What have you kept from childhood, what have you been happy to give away?

It can be as simple or as complex a piece of writing as you want to make it. Once it's been typed up you could consider laying it out in two columns, to emphasise the idea of pairs and splits.

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