MoDiP has given me a year of extraordinary
opportunities, in more ways than I can mention here.
Write poetry, they said and write poetry I
did. What better gift can you give a poet?
I am a creative writer, a poet, I am a
researcher, I am a doctoral candidate and I am tasked with finding my way
through the muddy waters that flow between the banks of academic and creative
It is a delicate balance and one which places
considerable demands on the individual, requiring a blending of personality and
character, a mixed methodological and method approach, a lived experience, a
critical consciousness and simultaneously, the maintenance of a creative
I love the contemplation of things, the consideration of the
everyday, the mundane, the objects that share our lives. Like many others, I
examine our relationship with them and the emotional responses that they
produce. I look for meaning in the concrete and corporeal and poetic ways of
My thesis specifically aims to examine the
poetic relationship between words and objects and in particular, create a
literary narrative for chairs made of
plastics that provides a rich, accessible expression of their significance
and place in contemporary culture. My year as Student Writer in Residence has
enabled me to consider the MoDiP collection in different ways, to look for
poetic possibilities and expression in the uniqueness of this collection.
Poetry and a
it was never just about simply looking at inanimate objects. I attempted to adopt a panoramic perspective,
looking outwards beyond the safe environment of the Museum onto the wider stage
where the aesthetics of art and design are influenced by the sociological, the
political and cultural events that shape our lives. Likewise, I was set the
challenge of enabling others to look at the collection in different ways. It
was not about converting people to poetry but rather, exploring alternative yet
complementary methods of interpreting objects and things.
poetry? The selection of a particular genre has significance for the writer
generally and the writer-researcher in particular. The choice goes beyond the writer’s
predilection for reading a literary form as it reflects a range of preferences
and predispositions in the context of the writer’s knowledge, skills and
experience that draw the writer toward a genre and within it a particular
style. The notion that the choice of
genre is somehow mysterious or magical, that it is innate or intuitive, holds
sway amongst modern writers. PD James, for example remarked;
“I don’t think we choose our genre, I think
it chooses us”
Library Archive (2011)
The greatness of poetry is that it can move
in so many directions. It is plastic! It can capture and distill the world,
which we inhabit. At its heart is language and wordplay, providing the poet
with a veritable toy-chest from which to construct and exchange meaning and knowledge.
And in to this box, MoDiP also added one of the most significant materials of
the last century, plastics.
The child was in paradise! Here was a
material that is both loved and hated, in equal measure. Here too a material
that was changing lives, for good or otherwise, transforming our world and us
poetry may be a very personal choice. It may even be considered to have ‘died’,
in the words of the popular press (Fry, 2005; Petri, 2013; Thompson, 2014) but
the evidence of activity across disciplines, suggest otherwise. Costello (2008) remarks of the history of
poetry as a history of apologies and defenses, a catalogue of disconnected
litany. Poetry is often regarded as too
far removed from the real world and preoccupied with itself, with aesthetics. This state of affairs was highlighted in Poetry Matters and International Research on
Poetry Pedagogy (Dymoke et al 2013), suggesting that poetry is disappearing
from the school curriculum leading to a missed opportunity to enrich young
people’s awareness and knowledge of language, through the reading and writing
of poetry, of engaging with how poets think and act in the creation of poetry.
It is more likely to be experienced and enjoyed externally by young people
through the multitude of interpretations available in the modern media, a place
where much of new experimental writing is taking place.
touches people on many levels, not least an emotional one. Its purpose,
according to Seamus Heaney is “to be of
service, to ply the effort of the individual work into the larger work of the
community”, revealing it as having a social and aesthetic responsibility.
significant challenge for me has been to measure or gauge readers
reactions. Individual feedback to my
work, albeit minimal, has been very positive. Some remarks suggest that I have
enabled individuals to think anew about the ordinary, the quotidian, about
plastics and things made of plastics.
But I sense that poetry remains viewed as an ethereal form of creative
expression, somehow elitist, read only by those who know how to read poetry.
the contemporary community of poets and poetry is buoyant and vital demonstrating
that poetry and its place in the literary landscape is far from dead and has
begun to cross disciplinary boundaries, no longer entrenched in literary or
English Studies. It is to be found
wherever people write of those things that are important or of interest to
A Final Poetic Word…..
seems fitting that I should end this tenure on a poetic note. Here I offer a
poem inspired by the chair of plastics, a particular chair and one designed by
a superstar. Made in a transparent polycarbonate, it is a chair that holds cult
status and is still, just a chair, or is it?
The Ghost of a Chair
Is there a ghost in the chair observing my
No, the ghost is the chair and the chair is
If the chair is not there, can I trust what I
Is it me who is here?
Is the chair really me?
chair, from the seat,
I am yours
But say I,
should I stare?
Do I sit? Do
MoDiP. Thank you Susan, Louise, Pam and Katherine.
Kate Hall (Student Writer in Residence)
Kate Hall is a Doctoral Student at the Arts University Bournemouth. She writes across a range of contexts and publishes her work online. She uses creative writing as her art practice and an anthology of creative writing will be part of her Doctoral output. With support links to the Museum of Design in Plastics, she will draw on objects from the collection to inform her work. The chair made of plastics will feature as the central object around which a literary narrative will be created alongside the critical component of the thesis.