Rothko's Silence

We flinch from it, want more images

to flick across the surface. Instead

a blur of slate grey diluted

to a white penumbra with a shot

of turps, or how the oranges

in my fruit bowl sing at their skin

mentioned on a canvas. A hive

of assistants worked with him,

hands moving at a conjurer's speed.

Each painted layer a shared meditation.

One restaurant bought his painterly

autograph, so that diners, lips full

of conversation could sit at ear height,

chewing on carpaccio, sharing the maroon.

Rothko gave the money back, his paintings

later earning millions. A sum he'd never know.

He died at his own hand, his blood

a signature in a 8 x 8 room, deadened

and dense with pills, deep cuts

across his wrists, left his children

fatherless, led us where wordless colours 

rule the accuracy of silence

he talked about.

Keep Asking The Questions

I love asking questions, I love hearing the answers even more. Every month I have a radio show - ‘The Two of Us’ on Reel Rebels Radio. I also have a regular newsletter which includes a monthly interview. Below is a selection of some of the questions I have asked my radio guests and interviewees. It’s quite fun to ask yourself the questions, especially if you are a creative type which most people I interview are.

How does getting angry help ? 

How much is vulnerability part of your creative process ?

Why is story so important ? 

When did you first begin to identify as writer ?

Adversity – how do you cope with it ?

How much of your happiness is based around family ? 

Where do you get your energy from ? 

What are you most proud of and why ?

Do you see yourself as a spiritual person ?

Where do you get your strength ?

Where is the love in your life ?

Has fear of abandonment been something that you  have had to work with in you life ?

How do you remain hopeful and optimistic ?

How has having a loving partner helped with your emotional well- being and how it makes you feel about the future ? 

How does cooking help create a sense a family for you ? 

What does family mean to you ?

What makes you feel at home in the world ? 

How does nature heal ?

What does showcasing mean for you ?

What’s the greatest lesson that personal failure has taught you ? 

Does art have to be great ? Is that its purpose ? 

 What do you see your role as a creator in relationship to a wider community ? 

How do you deal with conflict on both a personal and political level ?  

How easy is engaging with the creative process for you ?

How does reading help you? 

How would you personally describe your emotional state day to day? Would you ever think about addressing mental health directly in your work ?

How much does fashion and dressing contribute to your emotional well-being ?

How much do you stay present in your own life ?

How do you love people when they are pissing you off (any tips!) ?

What support do you provide to younger people ? 

Did you have an example of this in your own life? 

Is poetry a sort of prayer?

What does poetry do for you that other art forms don’t ?

What’s next ?

What have you learnt from teaching?

Do you consider yourself an activist and how much is your writing a part of that ? 

Growing up how did racism directly impact your mental health and how, if at all, has that changed now you are an adult ?

In what ways does music contribute to your emotional well-being ?

What wisdom about self care would you like to pass on to your children ?

How has Brexit affected your mental health ? And sense of identity ?

What is it to become visible ?

How often do you get outside ? outdoors, out of the country, out of your comfort zone, out of your head ?

Five words to describe what emotional intimacy means to you. 

Would you describe yourself as a survivor?

Where have you felt constrained in your life ?

Diagnosis – what does it mean to you ? 

How do you cope with the unknown ? 

How are you doing today ? 

Asking for help ? Is that something that comes easily to you? 

Is it still possible to celebrate after a tragedy ? or How is it possible to live after a tragedy ?

What future do you envisage for yourself ?

How useful has therapy been for you ?

Would you describe taking photographs as a form of therapy ?

What solace do you get from other’s work ? What inspirations ?

How do you think we need to expand the conversation around mental health and creativity ?

What real life stories are not being told (or told enough) that need to be heard more?

Why is radio such a great medium for documentary/real life stories? 

What is the most unexpected/surprising thing that parenting has taught you ?

How has your notion of being kind to yourself changed over the last couple of years ?

How has being a parent impacted on your relationship and understanding of climate change, and the ways you respond to it ?

What is the most urgent thing you want to communicate with your creativity right now ?

If you could choose another art form (one that you are not currently working in) to express yourself in what would it be and why ?

When did you first begin to identify as an artist, how did that come about ?

How has living with chronic illness impacted on your creative process ?

What one thing has life taught you that you would like to sing from the mountain top ?