Basically every part of what’s written below is overexciting me….
In April, I’ve been invited to do a text-based residency at the new Forest Centre Plus space in Edinburgh.
For those who don’t know it, the Forest is a volunteer-run arts collective which used to have its base in an old Methodist Chapel in the centre of Edinburgh. That building was sold by its owners Edinburgh University a year or so ago. The much-loved Forest cafe has more recently found a new home in Tollcross, but space for the previous levels of creative activity was lacking in the new arrangement. Until now, that is!
The Forest have taken over several floors of Argyle House, a modernist 60’s office block opposite, as it happens, my flat. That was one plank of fate lining up to connect me to the new enterprise.
Also Mirja Koponen, Forest committee members and general power-house, saw a performed reading I gave with long-time collaborator Leiza McLeod on the delivery platform at the back of the office building, in 2011. Our reading was of a text Leiza and I produced called This Is Not The Place. We first wrote this in 2008 in Bristol, recording walks we took from each of our homes to a location picked because neither of us had ever been there. In the 2011 performance, we added material describing a walk both of us took from Argyle House to somewhere we’d never been before. So the first walk was a convergence and the second walk, a divergence.
Mirja saw the performance, and it must have stuck in her mind; when she was planning the Forest’s move to the new space, she asked if I’d be interested in doing a performance or something else in there. Apparently I was the only person she knew who’d actually noticed the building beforehand, which I think tells you something about the cleverness of its construction given that it’s 10 stories tall and has 3 wings!
This has come together into a plan, now that the space is up and running. I am looking at doing a few different things in Argyle House over my residency month of April. I’ll write more about these as they approach but broadly they are:
1) a revisiting of the This Is Not The Place material, possibly making a connection with the inside of the building and the place outside where Leiza and I performed in 2011.
2) an attempt to read all of Emily Dickinson’s poems over 4 Mondays. I am having my talented friend, and other Emily, Emily Goodwin adapt a white dress for me to wear during this.
3) some sort of poem writing directly onto the walls of the building inside. Using it like a sketchbook is the idea, working to a final draft.
4) Holding a meeting of PiP, the poetry workshop group to which I belong, in Argyle House at some point during April.
I’m really looking forward to this. Forest Centre Plus is currently a very hot new arrival on the Edinburgh arts scene, and I’m grateful to circumstance and Mirja for opening its doors to me. I’ve looked at it for three years, and now I get to play inside.