26 Fruits


From home to home

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith 26 and Dark Angels I’ve been getting into more and bigger forms of creative collaboration. The Dark Angels collective novel http://unbound.co.uk/books/as-i-died-lying is now going through its editorial and design stages under its new title Keeping Mum. And now another Dark Angels collaboration is on the brink of being launched, this time a collective poem.

This came about when the designer Mike Abrahams talked to me about a residential property development he was working on with Solidspace and Jaccaud Zein Architects. Mike talked about building plans, a vacant site in Islington on the edge of the City of London and the hoardings that will go around the site during the construction period. Mike’s idea was to do something more interesting with the hoardings than the usual sales spiel of ‘quality apartments for contemporary urban lifestyles’. When the employment figures this week show that we are increasingly a nation of estate agents, there is a need to explore a better way of writing about homes.

IMG_2720So, what if we got away from that conventional marketing language? Could more than one writer contribute to the idea? Mike had already thought about using that natural curiosity of passers-by to look through gaps or holes in hoardings at the building work inside. This had led him to think of a dot matrix system in which holes would be drilled in the hoarding. Could these holes then be plugged in some way to make letters, and could the letters spell out words?

Our conversation took us to the involvement of twelve writers who had been on the Dark Angels masterclass in Oxford this April. If our theme was to be ‘home’, could we create a 12-line poem to which each writer would contribute a line?

Mike worked on the system, experimenting with yellow plastic plugs that can be inserted or removed to change the shape of letters. In this way we would be able to change from one line to the next regularly. While Mike did that our twelve writers started writing the poem, one line at a time, one writer at a time. We had some strict constraints – each line had to be 34 characters. And, spurred by the title “From home to home” I suggested that we start with the word ‘home’ as our first word, then end with the same word to close line 12. It would also help unify the poem if the last word of each line became the first word of the next.

IMG_2757So that’s what we did. The literary relay began and no one dropped the baton. We completed the poem in a few weeks. Mike is now finalising the system but you can see here how it works and what it looks like. As well as the hoardings, which will be up for at least a year with a new line appearing monthly, there will be a special book at the end of the year to record the work. As long as you don’t tell anyone, here is the full poem written by (in line order): myself, Faye Sharpe, Neil Baker, Sarah Farley, Richard Pelletier, Charlotte Halliday, Tim Rich, Jan Dekker, Sue Evans, John Dodds, Jamie Jauncey, Stuart Delves. Thanks all.


Home opens up your own vision of possible

Possible dances new beginnings with joy

 Joy in your heart tread lightly with love

Love and soft arms that hold us each night

Night rooms of sorrows and ardour speak

Speak dream bright windows to your world

World made divine by the promises we keep

Keep dreams alive and nightmares at bay

Bay of belonging a shared harbour our own 

Own part of my restless heart sweet place

Place me in the bosom of this loving house

House me in the heartbeat at heart of home




2 Responses

  1. Hi John,
    I could take this journey home
    someone, anyone,
    housed me,
    in the heartbeat
    at heart
    of home.

    Love the night photograph.
    Enjoy Spain. We know you will.

  2. Sue Evans says:

    My own vision of possible is that this will last the course. I’m sure it will. Enjoy Aracena. Brings back fond memories. Not least of Mr Pelletier and others.

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