renga roundup

Wow. Has it really been 7 months since I first agreed to go and sit under a tent in a housing estate and write poetry with strangers?

Yesterday we gathered in Keith’s house and penned the final batch of the 100 Verses for 3 Estates (Alec Finlay, Gavin Wade and Paul Connolly Paul Conneally Little Onion).

You already *know* there was a good bunch of people there and the atmosphere was great, but the food was delicious and deserves a special mention – thanks guys!

Does it sound like we didn’t work very hard?
There was some serious thinking going on too…

renga boogie

The weather was a bit cold and rainy, but the food was plentiful and the music was loud so we soon settled into it…

A Flickr slideshow of the day can be seen here:

Liam’s festival renga

Liam was let loose with a camera. Here is the renga session at the 3 Estates Festival as seen through his eyes…

…and his speciality grape-in-a-doughnut™ added a certain je nais ce quois too!

grape-in-a-donught (tm)

Hawkesley Square renga

Anthony asked us if we could get the kids a park to play in, instead of his wall (I don’t mind the hanging/but it’s the rubbish I can’t stand).

Liam started off by telling us about how he was often chased by the police. But stayed with us all day and wrote several nice verses (I fell out with my girlfriend/Norma/and got her back).

Joan came back again and was on as good form as last time (the bees in my bushes/are much too big/they’re black).

One of last month’s verses really hit home for a man whose son had returned home from Iraq that day (love goes home/to battlezone sighs/and Basra baggies).

renga snippets

Nice things from being sat in the middle of a council estate shopping precinct on a Saturday in June whilst writing poetry and inviting passers by to join us:

passing through

Joan – not sure what she had originally planned to do with her day, but she spent about 6 hours of it with us.

Joan – not sure if she really understood what we were doing, but she didn’t ‘alf come out with some corkers.

Gloria – initially intensely suspicious of what we were doing and our motives for doing so. She went away to think about it, but re-appeared 10 minutes later and contributed a verse.

Gloria – likes botany.


Diesel – local mc from the estate. Presumably spends a lot of time working with words and performing in front of crowds.

Diesel – Didn’t half look nervous when he was sat down talking with us.

Gang of youths – hanging around looking dismissive of what we were doing, but making sure they could hear what we were saying. “They’re writing poetry man, and then they just all go quiet.”

process 2

Maxine – Works in the cafe, but managed to join us for a while at the beginning of the session.

Maxine – Would join us on one of the Saturdays she’s not working, but she’ll be akido training instead.


Paul – for gently (but persistantly!) pointing out that, as of lunchtime, none of my verses had yet been selected!

strategic question #26

What is animate?

Link minds to write an artwork for Kings Norton 3 Estates using the form of a Japanese shared writing schema. Over a period of 4 seasons produce 100 verses in 6 different sites and provide a new tool for considering the future of the estates, its inhabitants, its identity, its visions.

Now you know about as much as I do.

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