We stopped the car.
You smoked a cigarette and watched for a bit
the fast clouds bringing another rain to our promised land.
I went out and did not look back
to catch a dragonfly suspended by a thin thread
over the undisturbed waters.
I could not swim but
I quietly jumped in, following
the only spot of true colour
since my unfortunate birth.
I did not leave a trace as I walked the meadow.
The only memory sitting now on the empty chair,
the poem I’m writing to you
from the grave.
Photograph: John Stadnicki
The exhibition for the Open Studios, Stroud Arts Festival, May 2014 is now open to the public in Stroud (http://www.sitefestival.org.uk) and it will be open the following two weekends in Rita Fenning’s studio. (http://ritafenning13.wix.com/ritafenning-web)
The address is: Fieldside, Brimscombe GL5 2SW, Stroud.
You will see a selection of installations, collages, artist books Rita has produced inspired by my poems ‘Birthday Present’, ‘Family Photograph, ‘Lesson of Admiration’, ‘Games’ and ‘The Warm Bones’.
You can watch a video I made and listen to me reading the poems, with a selection of photographs produced by John Stadnicki (http://www.johnstadnicki.co.uk/Site/Welcome.html) for my collection ‘A Short Story about War’.
Here is a preview with some of the exhibited art work and a fragment with my reading. The video contains photographs produced by the artist John Stadnicki.
Many thanks to the sound manager Marc Fairclough from South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and to the video editor, the artist Clare Bottomley. (http://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/149322)
Poems: Maria Butunoi
Installations: Rita Fenning
The exhibition will be open during the Open Studios Festival, May 2014.
The 18th edition of The Site Festival, Stroud Gloucestershire, starts on the 1st May 2014 and it will bring a dynamic programme of visual arts, performance, music, screening and open studios. The artist-led festival promotes collaborations and projects including a wide range of visual media, ceramics, textiles and poetry.
My collaboration with the artist Rita Fenning for the Open Studios http://ritafenning13.wix.com/ritafenning-web explores the concepts of ‘memory’ and ‘identity’, in an attempt to define and compare childhood stories and games in two different cultures, British and Romanian during the Cold War.
Rita has produced a series of artist books and installations as well as a doll’s house which will be the centre of a new exhibition open to the public in her studio. The exhibition is part of The Open Studios Festival which will be launched on Friday, 9th May 2014.
The exhibition in Rita’s studio will be open to the public on 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th May 2014.
A preview with some of the included work and video clip, to follow shortly.
I suddenly stopped and kneeled in the meadow
To look for grasshoppers;
The earth was breathing beneath us
The burning sun tall, so very tall.
You suddenly sat down and placed the violin between us.
Your left hand took the red shining cloth
And wiped the dirt off the wooden strings.
Then I thought to say
Let’s not hurry back home, not today
We have plenty of time yet
Nobody will look for us for a while.
How many poems, you whispered, left unwritten
If I was to lock you in my heart
A black butterfly crushed between
The covers of a sacred book.
Beauty kills like the war does
And still you unravel
The invisible thread which
Keeps both of us alive in the world.
As I stood up to leave
The smoke that kept my bones together for so long
Covered the sky.
My black ashes, your farewell gift.
I did not know
How much you wrapped yourself around my heart
Until today when sitting in the park
I accidentally caught you eating bread.
You took each bite with your eyes closed
And gently stroked the crust
Like you would do on Sunday in church.
You did not smile but
I think it was the sun who smiled at you
For a brief moment.
I had been there in the cold for quite a while
But did not move or blink or even breathe
You packed the crumbs away and
And then I sobbed.
I saw her in the mirror today
And she saw me.
We watched each other for a while.
The black reached forward.
The blue moved backwards.
I pushed my hands against the glass
She did the same.
I leaned towards left
She towards right.
I stopped. She stopped too.
I had no teeth.
She had some.
I had rain water in my hair
She had no hair at all.
None at all, had she, NO…THING.
There’s been no rain in her world for a while now.
Just a persistent thirst.
She carefully opened her palm to
Catch the falling drops and look at them
But I rushed out
Gently pushing the image away.
My wet hands, her cracked lips.
The soft memory of growing old