It’s April (how the heck did that happen?!) which means that it’s time for another annual attempt at National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). However, with recent local news from Spice in Manchester to recent reports on asylum seekers in Rochdale (please allow me a small, cynical moment: I guess that’s why subsequent governments partly make the capped payment so low so that people seeking somewhere to live do not end up in affluent areas that make up their core votes…), it’s hard to know what to do to make any positive difference. Coupled with ongoing global tensions of terrorism, war, displacement, torture and so on, it does feel difficult to make any art at all.
Alongside grasping the final months of my studentship in order to complete my thesis, I’ve been trying to make some art. If not good art. For NaPoWriMo I’m not solely concentrating on Rochdale, hence why there hasn’t been much creative writing on here this month. I have popped attempts at writing on my other project website. Some of these are imaginings draw upon real people, moments, and places but if they are then they’re mostly amalgams. (Except the first one, yeah, that happened. I wrote it during a train journey from Kendal back to Manchester.)
I do think, although it is hard, that there’s a need to keep making in the face of it all. There’s a quote attributed to the German playwright Bertolt Brecht: “art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer to shape it.” Maybe we need to take up tools and get shaping – in our communities, in our making – to work towards imagining, and creating, better, positive moments and places.
At some point soon I’ll update on some of the creative work going on in Rochdale – there has been a flurry and what is coming up is positive and inspiring. A little shaft of spring sunlight in otherwise worrying times.