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Text Festival at the MET in Bury: Poetry, Art, and Latte

First of all, I have a fair bit of Scorpio in me, astrologically speaking, and so this year I have been creating “Freudian” or otherwise weirdly coincidental situations for my Piscean friends. In one of these, I saw myself presenting a postcard with two birds to a friend who is soon to get married – totally forgetting, as a matter of fact, that his surname was Bird. And just yesterday I was meeting my friend Adrian to go to the poetry readings at the Bury Met, a part of Text Festival – and we both turned up wearing something green. Maybe there is nothing strange about these coincidents at all. Maybe. Or maybe not.

I am certainly grateful to Adrian for inviting me: Bury, like Heaton Park, is among the places in Greater Manchester that I never visited, in spite of living nearby for a long time. I considered going back and taking some pictures today, but after a walk in Bury streets and a short journey through Manchester’s Northern Quarter, also meeting Kate The Machizzle and Carol Batton (see the image above), I, to paraphrase Ringo Starr, had blisters on my toes.

What will never stop surprising me about these lovely provincial towns is the fact that you are sometimes almost advised against going there, let alone staying to live. Bury has always been described to me as a “hole”, and a lady I studied with at the University of Manchester finally left Bury for Altrincham a couple of years ago, to her great delight. But just for the record, this is the latte I was served yesterday at the Automatic cafe, next to the Bury MET, and upon my word this was the first instance of latte art in my nearly 6 years in Greater Manchester. And I do love and very often drink latte, so it isn’t like I’m much behind the latte art developments. Here you go.

Adrian took to prosaically and very cleverly reflect on the readings in his post The Tale of Two Carols (which title is a play on words by itself, as you may notice). Indeed, in a magic twist (it must have something to do with all this water signs thing), in the matter of days we were greeted, first, by the news of Carol Ann Duffy being appointed the new poet laureate; and then by the reading by Carol Watts. Adrian uttered what we both agreed upon while sipping on beverages at Manchester’s Centro, having come back from Bury. The problem is always about the genres and movements that often collide but never reconcile. Even if totally devoid of any political content, poetry – or literature, or art as a whole – often turns into a battleground of ideologies, in the broadest sense of the word, and thus falls prey to demagogy and factional politics. This segregation and sequestration come at the expense of progressive movement, but who needs progress, anyway? Modern “traditionalist” poetry denies the avant-garde poetry; the avant-garde poetry will denounce the traditional; the funny thing will be, of course, that both to one extent or another will be drawing inspiration from Dadaist or Surrealist legacy, maybe Rimbaud, and invariably using the same language, as the other. The dispute boils down to the form and the content, but very rarely does it take the language further in its development. When I hear someone Russian exulting that we write and speak the language of Pushkin and Dostoevsky, I cringe: both authors died in the 19th c. It should rather be a matter of great sadness that two centuries later we haven’t moved forward much. We should by all means seek to reproduce the impact of their writings for our age, but we should be doing so by reinventing the language, which is precisely what Pushkin did in his lifetime.

As for me, I narrated my thoughts in the fashion that most became the occasion, and here is yet another Bury Poem (uncommissioned, of course).

Centaur with a sting
I travel through
People and places
Leaving my mark
As my verses
So versatile is this life
That it would be sad
To always be sat
In one place
With nowhere to go
So with ingenious help
From one Latin rule
“Versatile” becomes “vertical”
And every stanza you write
Plunges deeper below the fold
Descends to the page’s bottom
Poets and artists sometimes
Live in Ramsbottom
Salford and Bury
Rather than London or Rome
In places like these
Poetry died and is buried
Under the sun in the marketplace
On the tram in the playground
On the spot where someone said
What – ever is so poetic becomes
Also tragic and doomed
And stanzas stretch into prose
Covering burial grounds
It’s not long before
Poetry goes back to Chaos
Where language abandons the tongue
Whoever they are
Poets are Scorpio Rising
Buried below the fold
Cherished for all the wrong reasons
Marking their way with the leaves
Of chrome yellow paper
And notebooks with the scribbles
Vertical or horizontal
Rising forever in verses…

© Julia Shuvalova 2009.

The portrait of Carol Ann Duffy is courtesy of her website.

Latte Art

Update: When I wrote this post at the end of September 2006, just over a month after I started blogging, I wouldn’t know that in nearly three years time it would have become one of the most read posts on the blog. In fact, as of now, it is just inside the Top 15 at #13, and is usually found in Google Images. I’m obviously tempted to think that the post, as well as the Coffee Art site, have been the orchestrating forces behind the surge in Latte Art in Russia, as the TV report from Russia Today channel well illustrates.

And if you’re up to trying your hand at drawing with milk and chocolate, to adorn your latte with exquisite designs, here’s something to help you get started, from Vinko @ Hong Kong and Toronto.

Original post from 26 September, 2006.

For one of my projects, I’ve been researching into coffee, its origins, sorts, etc. On the way I came across an intriguing term ‘latte art’ and went on to look for images. Well, this is a 3-page gallery of latte art images, which, despite being generally similar, sometimes are real gems.

Also, check out another fantastic website, Just Coffee Art, where art images are painted with coffee.


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