Tag Archives: Barber Insitute



Yesterday I was at Andy Killeen’s  Cityscapes – Story Workshop at  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts Birmingham

The workshop is about writing stories, rather than poetry, for Birmingham Book Festival. The story reading event takes place on 11th October from 6.30pm – 8.30pm at the Barber.  I’ve been working on my story without much success – too many ideas, not enough application – but revisiting Birmingham, where I was born and grew up, evokes a lot of memories for me. As the older generations of my family are now all dead, I always get a hollow feeling deep inside as if I’ve become eroded, or worse, invisible by the time I get to the Maypole roundabout on the outskirts.

To distract myself from these glum thoughts, I tried some mental composition in the car…


Bells Lane

and no one waves

from house, or concrete block

or bus stop.

All in their graves – 

the makers of me.

Later I drove down Serpentine Road, Selly Park,  which immediately reminded me of another Serpentine Road in Harborne, very near where I was born.  I mused on a bit…


My Serpetine’s in Harborne

not here in Selly Park

the twist and turn

the scorch and burn

not joyous

rather dark.

But by the time I got to the class I’d got the negatives out of my mind and  was ready to share my scribbles from our last session when Andy had taken us on a tour of the Barber. I’d come up with a few poetry seeds which I might be able to take forward in story form.

A Dancer Ready to Dance. DEGAS.


Here’s a dancer ready to dance,

Her hands outstretched to the sky,

She’s naked and neat

 – the prettiest feet –

And a look that’s wondering why

She’s left her heart in the City

With a raver called Sid the Snake,

She’d rather be bouncing the Bhangra with him

Than teetering round Swan Lake.

The Adoration of the Child Jesus by Cosimo Rosselli


Do angels stalk in cities –

flap  their grubby tousled wings ?

Are they lurking and pretending

that all these city things:

the clatter and the clamour

the  glitzy flashing lights

the squalor of the daytime

the menace of the nights

the Floozie

the Jacuzzi

old queens

and older squares…

are worthy of protecting

with their basalistic stares?

Arch of Constantine by Jan Miel


Is this the way to nowhere

-the clamour  far behind-

or will there be a better life

to search and maybe find

the rose-hips in the hedgerow

as Autumn stirs the air

the seeds to live a simple life

beyond the city glare?

Yes, it was a good day, even if I didn’t feel I’d met the story brief….

On the way home I tuned in to Classic FM and almost immediately the second movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto spilled through the air. It reminded me of my dad who was a religious man and loved that piece of music. I’m not religious but I hoped it was an omen that I’d come up with a decent story. More later. Will I make it?