Poetry Event

The texts below were written and performed as part of Lines etc.

Curated by Hanna ten Doornkaat,  November 2019

Note: All work © the Author


Lines are containers, boundaries, tracks which take you from a to b,
They provide shape, connections and symmetry
But what happens when you take risks, and you move out of line
Are there penalties, will there be a fine?

“Stay in line, stay in line”, shouts the uniformed warden
You can’t cross there! See, the human cordon
on guard, the thin blue line, visible and strong,
No point raging against that, agree the throng.

Instead, the lines swell and flex, taking on a life and form of their own
Determinedly, the crowds are funnelled into the mouth of the Dome
Swallowed up, given numbers and rows, with directions to seats
Where eagerly they are waiting, anticipating fantastic feats.

The swathes of cloth which flutter down from the crown
In lines of white silk mixed with soft sensuous ribbons of brown
Are the ladders on which the showmen demonstrate their moves
Their taut frames creating shapes of wonder, leaving nothing to prove.

A sated audience, are left to dispel and make their way back
Guided along yellow lines, no deviating, out into the night, into the black
There they are kept in step by horses, tall and firm, uncompromising,
No one dares stop or stare but moves transfixed in line to the stairs.

Sarah Morgan

Lost Lines


As I nested in my soporific bed, 

some lines swooped in without the strain of thought, 

about a bird, lustrous and finely wrought. 

I crafted them with ease inside my head, 

recited them, rehearsed them stage by stage 

then safely fenced the lines into my brain 

and rested, confident they would remain 

until I could preserve them on the page. 

The fox of sleep sneaked in before the dawn; 

it ravaged and destroyed my gorgeous bird 

of poetry, but left no mangled word 

behind for me to gather or to mourn. 

When I awoke the lines were gone forever, 

as if they had no substance, like a feather. 

Valerie Purcell

Laying it on the Line

red lines, party line,
hard line.
headlines, deadlines,
hold the line.
blood line, power line
fault line.
assembly lines, picket lines
bread line.
county lines, coke lines
draw the line.
phone line, hot line,
touch line, goal line,
punch line.
railway line, branch line
end of the line.
marriage lines, washing line
hard lines.
frown lines, laughter lines
out of line, keep in line,
a hundred lines.

Valerie Purcell

Scott Modern

If only I had thought to ask you more
About patterns and remnants left behind
When I was busy roaming and reeling

Now weavers cottage bares time and leaning
A warp and weft lineage to unwind
If only I had thought to ask you more

And this old photo shows the shawl you wore
Scott Modern black and white left to remind
When I was busy roaming and reeling

Light and dark criss-cross twill so appealing
For me, this simple twirling tartan bind
If only I had thought to ask you more

This design, her lengthened living core
Now a legacy, not just a dying wind
When I was busy roaming and reeling

For it looms large today, muted sealing
A print of fashion not dated we find
If only I had thought to ask you more
When I was busy roaming and reeling

Janet L Radcliffe

Y Fronts

A short monologue by Mindy Sawhney

He looks about 12, the lad sat opposite.
He’s sticky in his M&S tie. He hands over the piece of paper.
20 lines.
Bullet points.
Pow pow pow.

He’s shaking a bit. First time jitters.

I remember my first day. New vest. New underpants. Y fronts. That’s what we all wore then.

I knew I’d have to get undressed, see. To get on the blue suit. Blue jacket and blue trousers. A proper jacket. With lapels.

You’ll laugh but, when I put that jacket on it was like putting on a new skin. Like a brand new pair of rubber gloves. You couldn’t see me scars under.

Gawd it took me ages to shave. I didn’t want to turn up looking like a kid with a nick on my chin. Nah. I did a proper job. I could see I had. When I went downstairs me mum looked at me – you know, like she was proud. Yeah. She was proud.

She’d done me packed lunch. Shipman’s. Walkers cheese and onion. And a penguin. Exactly like what she used to do for me old man.

We  all waited together at the main gate. 25 of us. Some were proper men, others me own age. The closer we got to the building, the less cock in our walk.

Stepping into that hall – oh my life. It was the smallest and the proudest I ever felt. Closed toe, rubber-soled shoes. Blue jacket and blue trousers. The gals wore grey polos and skirts down to their shins. They worked on the small stuff, stretching covers over seats. And we worked on the big bits.

That was 30 years ago next month.
Keeping the cars rolling off the line.
It’s the rhythm of it I like.
Wasn’t for my boy. Left after 6 months.
They tell you how to do everything Dad.
It drove him mad he said.

But I like it.
I like that someone has worked it out. What’s the best order to do things. How the teams should fit together. How the jobs get divvied it up. I like that. I was a bit gutted though. After the missus … well … it’s been me and him. He’s a bus driver now. The 285.

When we started making the driverless ones. Well that really was something. The robots are like these massive power rangers.  Rows of orange necks. It’s unbelievable really. What they can do. I feel a bit like a zoo keeper, looking after me metal dinosaurs.

And these perfect, perfect cars that are gonna stay perfect cos no bleedin’ idiot is gonna drive ‘em… they’re gonna drive theirselves.

But he’s give me this piece of paper.
This spotty little squit.
And that’s it, innit.
Me dinosaurs don’t need me.
End of the line.

Mindy Sawhney