I Will

August 10, 2013


This is set to post automatically just as my fiance and I are saying “I will”.

In celebration, I wanted to share my poem ‘Feathers and Blood’, originally published in Poetry from Art at Tate 2011, edited by Pascale Petit. Because of the indentations, I’ve uploaded it as a pdf.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope it is equally joyful.


Image by Ne!l Chen, copyright commons, some rights reserved.


Broken Sonnets

May 23, 2013

JoImage2Yesterday Hermione installed our piece, Broken Sonnets at the Pistols and Pollinators Exhibition organised by Accident & Emergence and Katrina Naomi. The exhibition runs all weekend, including an open mic on Monday afternoon, and there is a FREE private view this evening.

Here’s our artists’ statement:

Broken Sonnets

Hermione Allsopp and Anne Welsh

This sculpture questions the linear nature of the stories we tell; their beginnings, endings and contexts within a specific time and space.

The collaborative process has pushed our work in new directions. Our piece has evolved through discussion, visiting each other,  and running a workshop at the Institute of Making (UCL).

When we met at the Albert, we were both drawn to the space.  Hermione works with charity shop objects, so for her the Albert (as a pre-demolition ‘meanwhile space’) has many of the conditions of such an object –  it is transient and used, but still of use to someone.  The old grid of the suspended ceiling is particularly dominant in the room.  It is structural, yet superficial and broken. It was a natural place to start.

Anne was similarly attracted to the many squares in the room which suggested the sonnet form – a fourteen line poem with a ‘turn’ or ‘volta’ at the ninth line in which the proposition of the first eight lines of the poem reaches a resolution in the last six. ‘Broken Sonnets’ plays with this, presenting poems of eight and six lines that can be combined in any order to form and reform a love story between the viewer and the narrator of the text.

Some tiles are designed to reflect poems printed in mirror-writing, and the viewer is invited to move through these fractured glimpses in the way they might through memories, recreating narratives from the perspective of the present.

In the act of sculpting, Anne’s words became like the objects Hermione normally uses as her materials, taken outside the normal two dimensions of the page.  They are a reflected memory that has its own resonance or meaning, staged by Hermione for the viewer to create.

Although it is not essential to experience the text in its entirety, if this is something you would particularly like to do, you can at http://annewelsh.wordpress.com/creative-cuttings/broken-sonnets/ or by scanning the QR code:



Image: Joe Packer


FREE Private View This Evening

May 23, 2013



Join us this evening for the private view of Pistols and Pollinators. Hermione Allsopp and I have created an installation of Broken Sonnets and there are fourteen other pieces by fourteen other poets and artists.


What I Live For

May 10, 2013


To celebrate the publication of her books under her new name, Satya Robyn is curating an online event today in which bloggers share “What I Live For”.

There are lots of things that I could describe in this way – family, friends, books – but given the date my choice was easy. It’s three months exactly until our wedding, so I thought I would post a poem about our upcoming marriage.



after Marcel Duchamp and Octavio Paz

Outside the station, you juggle gravity,
so when we step onto the platform
it opens out to rails made of matches
soaked in fresh green paint.

The train sets off as though shot
from a cannon. I hear its cogs and springs,
the clockwork straining to keep up
with our direction of travel; it’s been wound
beyond its litany’s pace and theme.

The centrifugal force of our meeting
rips my rain-mask from me. You
give me a glass skin
in which I cocoon myself
like a caterpillar noctuelle.

Your glass is the only thing strong enough
to withstand my tongue of solid flame.

Within my new epidermis, I slow life;
grow into a dusk-dusty mariée.


Image: Us. Photo by my Mum. We were all laughing so hard about something or other that she couldn’t quite focus.

‘Bride’ was first published in The Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2012.

Previous blogsplashes for Satya’s books are filed under her former name, Fiona Robyn.


Poetry From Art, Poetry With Art

April 29, 2013
Photo by Pascale Petit of the Tate Modern group working from Ebrahim El-Salahi's 'Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams'. Used with permission

Photo by Pascale Petit of the Tate Modern group working from Ebrahim El-Salahi’s ‘Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams’. Used with permission

One of the reasons I was excited to take part in the Pistols and Pollinators Project was that I work a lot from Art and I saw this as an opportunity to work with an artist. I’ve been really fortunate in being paired with Hermione Allsopp, as we both had exactly the same reaction to the project brief – we wanted to produce something together that was specific to the site of the installation. There are lots of other valid ways to interpret the brief – so it’s lucky that we had a similar attitude.

Over the last few years, as well as reacting to Art in exhibitions and from the web, I’ve attended Pascale Petit’s workshops at Tate Modern. These are extraordinary courses which allow participants to see exhibits after hours in the gallery and to take part in games and exercises Pascale has devised to encourage writing. One of the important skills in writing from Art is to take the piece or a part of it as a jumping off point – the poems that work well access something in the writer’s experience that is triggered by the art. So the finished poem isn’t a description of the art, and doesn’t necessarily represent the ideas the artist intended to convey in their piece.

Poets can agonise over when they should use “after” and when they shouldn’t. When are the images, ideas or structure provided by the artist so integral to the poem that they should be attributed in this way? For me, typical librarian-come-academic, it’s important to cite, but it’s also important not to mislead a reader of a poem. So it’s absolutely vital that my poem ‘Mappa’ (Tate Online Anthology 2012should be “after Alighiero Boetti” because so much of the imagery comes from his work and my experience viewing it for the first time. On the other hand, my poem ‘The Kiss’ (Envoi 160, November 2011, p. 34) contains nothing of Rodin’s artwork, but came out of a workshop exercise in which Pascale asked us to write about an important first kiss. 

Unsurprisingly, I see writing from Art as a kind of marginalia – the artist has created their work and the poet is responding to it, in much the same way that we respond to text in its margins … and then some of the marginalia grows into its own piece of writing, always owing something to its originating text. It’s a conversation in which the artist makes the opening statement and, unless the poem becomes very well-known, they may never be aware of the poet’s response.

In working with Hermione, the conversation is much more fluid and responsive. In the case of the particular piece on which we are working, sometimes one of us is “speaking” and sometimes the other, and we are listening and responding to each other, growing an artwork together. Right now, the work consists of structures in Hermione’s studio and drafts of text on my MacBook. The result will be a shared idea, poetry with Art, not poetry after it.


Image: Tate Poetry group working from art. Photo by Pascale Petit, used with permission.


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