Friday, 15 February 2008

The Day The Building Ate The Plane

I have been thinking about the last VWC project and how I could contribute to the next one. I am trying to combine death and martydom together in a modern way. I confess, this posting has recycled lines, I think four, that were in my last VWC piece. But it is only a frame at the moment which I'll build on. All thoughts welcome and thank you.

I saw a plane in plain sight fly into a butter building.
Honed and droned in like a bloodhound following a finger print stink,
And the building swallowed it, hole, gobbled its load


Belched back flames into the blue,


I know they’ve been hit before
But this is twisting black.
This is a shatter smack.
The emotion ripped through tear ducts
Travelled through lens and fibre optic flux


Breath was held.
Are their more?
Are you sure?

The people stood straight as it melted
Down and Down and Down
Down into pyroclastic snow
Covering earth, trapping bone.
But I can wind it back, back it winds
Up it goes, watch it again
I can freeze it.
I can see them now.
He has blue eyes, a yellow tie,
A wedding ring,
An Archimedes swing.
They are waving.
They are falling.
They are sunk.


Ross Sutherland said...

i think writing about the twin towers is a tricky subject-for several reasons.

firstly, EVERY US slam poet has a 'the day the towers fell' poem and i've heard enough of them now to know that you've got to be bringing something very special to the party to even attempt it. Think about what you can say that wont have been said before. We all agree that killing lots of people is bad and that buildings falling over looks beautiful and that NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME. What else?

the other problem is that its hard to get any critical distance from such an event. it becomes hard to evaluate the text without seeming to criticise the event at its centre. its for this same reason that I wanted to avoid people sending me stories about their private experiences of death- because a) I won't be able to professionally edit the work and b) it feels a bit exploitative- both of the audience and the artist.

this is why i am more interested in the mediation of disaster opposed to the disasters themselves.

> on one level, mediation through TV, seeing as its our primary conduit for experiencing mass death.
(similar to that- I'm interested in the fact that those two 9-11 films that came out last year must have been in production since 2003 at least.)

>but another separate form of mediation is going on in poetry itself.

the fact that new york is full of poetry clubs that every night reconstruct and deconstruct the twin towers through endless metaphorical cycles, is more interesting to me than the poems themselves.

what can be gained from this process? I understand that rewriting events empowers individuals. But then to SLAM with these poems? "I am more changed by 9-11 than you!" It's weird.

Heres a poem by Ainsley Burrows, called "910". I think thats a good example of an anti-"9-11 poem" poem. It works better if you can find a live recording of it, particularly one in his native brooklyn. Imagine this on a stage full of people who have just been reading 9-11 CHANGED EVERYTHING poems. The crowd are always ready to kill him by the middle, then he wins them round again at the end.

I'm not saying 'do this', Scott, but I just wanted to warn you off anything too straight-forwardly sentimental.


THIS is gonna hurt
like a power outtage during your abortion.
hurt like
the 666 is now the American flag

THIS is gonna hurt like
Adolf Hitler came back as CNN, now the Muslims are the Jews

THIS is gonna hurt like
the Holocaust was an independent film, slavery was a blockbuster, made billions for motherfuckers

THIS is gonna hurt like
America's a big gas chamber, but niggas don't burn well, believe me, they've tried.

THIS is gonna hurt like
the wolf ain't comin in sheeps clothing, the wolf is comin as a chain store sellin FUBU on UPN with a bucket of popcorn chicken, a cross and a crack pipe through the infommercial allowed to spread AIDS in Africa

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
pulling a bowling ball backwards through your dick

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
a urinary tract infection *pauses* in your tear ducts,
don’t cry motherfucker!!

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
a blow job from your sister *pauses* with your mom’s coaching her

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
the scent of your ancestors blood caked on the psyche of white America
hurt like the memories locked up in broken bones, like the steel of starvation like the blood face on the window of colonialism

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
a "FUCK YOU!" note to the third world

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
a 14yr old girl giving birth to her brother

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
your third eye in a glass of white milk

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
the metal in your ankh was mined by oppressed Africans

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
theres more racism and apartheid in your engagement diamond, than in all of South Africa

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
a tight pair of Nikes, two sizes too small, crafted from the skull of a Chinese sweatshop worker

THIS is gonna hurt like
the World Bank, like the IMF, like the Center for Disease control

THIS is gonna hurt like
free bibles for enslaved peoples

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
Reagan was playin' president

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
George W...W...W..W...W...W....that motherfucker is ALSO playing president

THIS is gonna hurt like
the opium trade, and the World Trade Center

THIS is gonna hurt like
genocide in our music
hurt like
being double crossed and framed by hip-hop
hurt like
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, Panama, Palestine, Nicuaraga, Nigeria, Liberia, Lebanon, Libya

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
being double-crossed by the CIA

THIS is gonna hurt like
Osama bin Laden lives in New Jersey

THIS is gonna hurt like
Osama bin Laden was killed in 1997

THIS is gonna hurt like
9/11 ...Fuck 9/11 !!!

THIS is gonna hurt like
1492, like 1555, like 1690, like 1776, like 1865 like

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
three fifths

THIS is gonna hurt like
Japanese concentration camps on American soil

THIS is gonna hurt like
Tuskegee Experiments, like small-pox, like the word Indian, like reservations, like the same bullet that killed Malcolm, Medger, Kennedy, and King was fired by the same

THIS shit is gonna hurt like
a nigga late for his own lynching

This shit is gonna hurt bad, its gonna hurt good!
and ugly and beautiful, but most of all
it's gonna hurt
because thats how Karma works

ScottDevon said...

Hi ross,
thanks for your comment. I disagree with your overkill idea. For the main reason, that were not Americans, we have not been subjected to night after night of US slam poets, telling us why they understand it better than anyone. Our distance from the event is our power. Look at the recent release by Martin Amis of 'The Second Plane' which is already a massive book sure to become a classic and the impact of 'Out of the Blue' by Simon Armitage. The power in this event now lies in looking back and reminding ourselves what started this dominoe effect rolling. I can't agree that because US slam poets have done it to death the English arena is the same. Generally British slammers steer clear of any hard subject and instead rip on popular culture, 'isn't Bush stupid' or 'the size of Jordans mammaries'. Our slams are very different, and if this work is being aimed at The Round in Newcastle, why should overkill in the states which hasn't filtered through to here be a factor.
I certainly don't feel it's finished but I wouldn't stop with this idea just because slammers over the water have overkilled it.

Tim Clare said...

Knock knock.

Who's there?


9-11 who?


Ross Sutherland said...

I think thats a valid point scott- i've come across abit too strong i think.

I do genuinely feel that its possible to write a good impassioned poem about 9-11. And I agree that UK audiences probably aren't sick of people writing poems about it. I think that if its done in an original enough way, I would be interested in programming it.

however, it has to fit with the brief of the production, which is about attitudes to death: mediated, imagined, symbolic, etc. Which is why I am genuinely interested in the huge volume of 9-11 poems in circulation.

From your opening lines you sent across first I thought you were more heading for an impassioned description of the buildings falling. But now I realise I'm mistaken, when you talk about 'distance as power' - which is in much more keeping with the brief.

seeing as you haven't written the poem yet, I can't comment any further about how suitable it would be to develop at The Round! I just wanted to create abit of debate around the subject matter, and slip in some of my own deep-rooted prejudices towards hackneyed political slam poets! (which I know you're not, Scott)

nice use of overkill, btw