A poem a day: Where do you go

Today I was teaching and talking about communities and projects with some reference to my work in, and with, Rochdale. Two of the words that kept coming up were “interest” (in relation to how communities could come about) and “collaboration”. It’s the latter that’s intriguing; prior to the session I came across the idea of the ” social turn”. This phrase was coined by Prof. Claire Bishop and was used to describe the way that artists are now making social/participatory art with communities (Jeremy Deller’s Orgreave being one example). Bishop writes of some of the positive benefits of this engagement, however, cautions against the idea of “collaborating at” the communities that are being engaged, and presents worries about the art that is made (socially just, progressive or passive, apolitical).  I argued today that perhaps this term could be applied to some of the work that universities carry out in the name of impact. I may be wrong, but it seemed to fit!

This has made me think about my own work: as mentioned a few days ago, I’m concerned about being a “tourist” exoticising the borough, or of interfering in other people’s everyday lives. A lot to think about. (As I’m typing this on a phone there’s not really the white space to extend these thoughts!) But I guess the question, for now, is where to go from here…

So, as for today’s poem, it’ll be short! The prompt today was to write a san san. Here goes…


Where do you go
the moment before the rain?
Perhaps you run up the grey stone,
without thinking or too full of thought.
Rain moments, like these, come again
too many thinking steps for you alone.
In stone grey there’s no chance of sun,
any thinking will come to nought,
and you like stone will be gone.

Bishop, C. (2006) ‘The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents’ ARTFORUM. February 2006.


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