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From the Festival
December 2014


Alter Ego Workshop
(from Michael Bungay's workshop)

I created an alter ego I called Peter Maxwell, who could have been me nearly 50 years ago if I had been someone else. Immediately below is a short resume I did for this character. I then used this character to produce a short story.

Peter Maxwell is 23 years old. He did a degree in History and now lives with three male friends, Stephen, Andrew and George, in a shared house. He worked for a time in a Subway, but got fired for failing to appreciate that customers prefer to receive what they have actually ordered.

Since the loss of his job, Peter has been subsisting on job-seekers allowance, but this is due to come to an end in a couple of weeks, and he knows he will be told to return to his parents’ home instead of living in his present accommodation.

Peter was debating whether to go out with his friends to the pub. It was all right for them, as George had a decent job, while Stephen and Andrew were post grads and had funding for their research. Peter on the other hand was forced to rely on his job-seekers’ allowance since losing his job at Subway. His boss told him he was unwilling to keep on anyone who was unable to appreciate that customers preferred to receive what they actually ordered.

“Oh come on,” George said to him. “I’ll buy you a drink.”

That settled it. Peter had been on the point of going anyway, as he did not relish sitting on his own in front of a grotty TV set and watching endless police dramas.

For a while they sat and chatted. Peter nursed his lager, wondering if he could make it last all evening, but two hours later he was looking at the last two millimetres in the bottom of his glass, and decided he would have to buy a refill, and hoping his companions would understand he could not afford a round.

He was lucky, as just then Andrew said, “My turn to buy I think. Peter, come with me and help carry them.”

He went with Andrew. There was a bit of a queue at the bar, so Peter said, “I’ll just nip to the loo.” Having emptied his bladder, Peter went back to the bar only to find Andrew clutching three drinks.

“That one’s yours,” Andrew told him, indicating the glass of lager on the bar. Andrew went ahead, so Peter picked up his glass and took a sip, a very small sip, since he was hoping this one would last the rest of the night. However thirst got the better of him, so he took a second and then a third sip, or rather more of a glug.

He turned from the bar, and was just taking a fourth sip, or possibly glug, when quite suddenly his elbow was jerked up and most of the drink splashed out on to his face and down his shirt.

“Oh my god I’m so sorry.” The girl looked very upset as well as contrite. “Are you all right?”

“Well, apart from my clothes being all wet and reeking of booze, and losing most of my drink, I’m fine.”

“I’m so sorry,” she repeated. “The least I can do is buy you another one,” and before Peter could say anything she had caught the barman’s attention and was handing Peter another drink.

“Are you with anyone?” she asked.

“A few mates.” Peter noticed the girl had really nice hair and, while not as skinny as modern fashion dictated, looked rather attractive. “What about you?”

“I was supposed to meet a friend here.”

“Hasn’t he shown up?”

“She. No, she just sent me a text to say she can’t make it.”

This remark made Peter wonder about her sexual orientation, but he asked, “Would you like me to sit with you?”

“Are you sure? I mean I wouldn’t want you worrying about me spilling your drink all over you again.” She looked slightly anxious, but she also smiled.

“I don’t think you’re likely to do that again. At least unless you make a habit of it.”

As they sat down, she said, “I don’t think it’s the best of pickup techniques. And not very reliable either. I’m Lucy by the way.”

Aha! Peter thought. I think that means you’re probably not gay.

They chatted for a while, and then Peter thought that, despite his meagre funds, he should at least make the offer to buy her a drink. His calculation was that, since he rather liked this girl, it would be worth the investment.

Lucy forestalled him by saying, “It’s getting a bit crowded and steamed up in here. Do you fancy coming to my place for some coffee?”

Peter looked at her and decided he would like nothing better. He said, “Are you sure? I mean, you don’t really know me.”

“Oh, I think I’ll be safe enough with you. Come on, it’s only just across the road.”

Peter was pleasantly surprised that Lucy’s flat did indeed turn out to be just across the road. He was also pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. They sat on bar stools in the kitchen sipping coffee when the front door was opened with a key. It was a young man, perhaps a year older than Lucy.

“Hi Mark,” Lucy said. Mark put an arm round her and hugged her, but did not give her a kiss.

To Peter this did not augur well. It meant they took each other for granted. Peter wondered if he should make his excuses and leave. Mark wandered off.

Lucy said, “If you took your shirt off I could rinse it and bung it in the dryer.”

“I can hardly sit here without my shirt on. What would Mark think?”
“Oh don’t worry about him. My brother thinks I’m a fast worker”.

John Malcomson

Autobiographical Poetry.
(from Andy Smith's Workshop)

I could have been different
If my life had not happened
The way it did

If I had not been ill at school
Done A levels
I would have been more conventional
But I would not have been me

I would never have known war
I would never have seen those limbless boys
Those athletic young men

On the verge of manhood
Suddenly dependent cripples
I would have been anti-war
Only in abstract

I would have gone to university sooner
Done a conventional job
Instead of my decision
To work for myself

Never to work for others again
Never met Jill
Never had my family
The one I have

But I am me
I have created
What I have
What I am

And those around me
I created them
Without these I would not be me
And they would not be at all

Then I would not have lost my daughter
Because I would never have had her
She would never have existed
Neither would my son and living daughter

The loss is so great
Just one event
Has such a catastrophic impact
So affects my life

I want get back to who I was before
To feel the happiness and pride

John Malcomson

Picture by John Sheehy

All Stars at the FED!

The moon was still partying
As we left the Sussex coast
The sun’s alarm hadn’t yet rung
Not even time for toast!

Still sleepy but very excited
We trouped aboard the coach
Shared a bright good morning
The day was ours to poach!

The sun woke up slowly
Riding the road to Syracuse
A quiet London greeted us
Clear of traffic queues!

Arrived! Alight! Sign the book
Head downstairs for coffee
A starting grid of revving up
For the annual Grand Prix!

The day it simply raced on by
With workshops, chats and eats
Till time to say – ‘see you next year’
From GROW ‘& Oh reserve our seats!’

From a few years ago - hope to be back next year!

Jan Hedger

Carnival night

Carousel is spinning faster and faster
The lights are on
Orchestrion plays tune of my youth
Faster and faster
It's carnival night
Every night
I am not part of it

Grey morning
Grass frosted with vomit
And garbage
Grey people get up
Around the noon
I am not part of it

Marie Neumann


Bubbles got drunk
on sweet red currant wine
They float in the air
Bumping into clouds
Hiccup, hiccup, hiccup
It's not fair

Marie Neumann

Soul searching

whole night
in friendly tavern
we were drunk
on spirits.
It was red wine.
Beer isn't good
for soul searching;
it's rather dull.
What did we celebrate?
The end of exams
and arrival of scholarship.
At 4.00 o'clock morning,
what did we find?
"The life
is like ladder
to the chicken coop:
and full of chicken poop,"
declared a garbage man
sitting next to us,
before he left to make
Prague beautiful.
The tavern closed
and there was
two hours walk
to our dorms.
It sobered us up.
The birds were
welcoming new day
and four drunks
were discussing
bits and pieces
of philosophy
jumping from Bacon
to Avicenna,
from Descartes
to Aristotle -
and back.
I don't remember
what it was about.
I was drunk.

Marie Neumann


Bubliny se opily
sladkym, cervenym,
rybizovym vinem.
Ted se vzduchem vznaseji,
do oblaku vrazeji,
hlasite skytaji
a vzlykaji:
To neni fer,
to vubec neni fer.

Marie Neumann

Afterwards From the festival

Left behind-the-scenes look for you
Upon light on foot slipped into moving
Down undo vote tears and text
Meet messages free switch between
From heart from the festival will be
Meet members memories are you today
December despite being blocked by blue
Rising stars from the festival

John Joseph Sheehy


That H-4 Hercules was the most beautiful
thing I have ever seen. Mr. Hughes agreed,
which was why he made me a Co-Pilot,
one of the crew but with no license.

His money kept on flowing, his baby
grew & grew, in birch ply, not spruce;
he hated that name, couldn’t erase it,
wouldn’t listen to advice after Kaiser bailed.

I held my piece, knew my place, which was
never the one place I wanted to be; strictly
a hydraulics engineer for Hughes Aircraft,
too valuable to be risked in a test flight cockpit.

One day in1947, that plane flew once,
one mile for one minute, over Long Beach.
Not enough to impress Senator Brewster
or Congress; unwanted but not unloved.

I don’t want to know what happened there;
I only know what might have been; that
plane lives in its own museum, fueled
up & ready to go if Mr Hughes says so.

Mr. Hughes, the Mormons & Las Vegas
deserve each other. I retired to Encinas,
watch migrating geese overfly my house
twice a year. Beautiful, just beautiful.

Word for Word


Seven colours on the floor
miming a collapsed rainbow.

In the centre, a white candle;
we are illuminated, or not,

we are manuscript, we are
scribe, we are breath to share.

We are the dance, we are the
maypole, holding each other,

spinning together, spinning off,
pattern & patterned, out

into the world, into ourselves,
on and on, round and about.

This is our meditation, to take
our breath everywhere we go,

invite anyone we meet to share
our dance, share our breath,

and then send them spinning
off, to share their breath and

their pattern until we are all
one circle, all one breath.

Word for Word


A joyful moment on this beautiful Saturday morning
To celebrate and greet our friends across the water
Creative sounds of Sun Ra
Space is a place
Bending sounds that heal the human soul
As it keeps on pouring anywhere in the planet Earth
And on this beautiful day
Let’s celebrate our love for all
Take five the joint is jumping
And soon we will see you when The Bread rises
In love and peace

© Carlos Raúl Dufflar 11/15/14
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective

TheFED 2014: Reflections

There is nothing to stand in the way
of truth and poetry:
the beauty of greeting is in  speaking of
the love across the waters
in a sharing of words
in an unbroken circle
of people’s airwaves
one day to give way to
people’s poetry in person.

© Ángel L. Martínez
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective


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