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Six prose poems from ‘Terraces: a choreography’.

By SCOTT THURSTON.

1.After the masterclass for changemakers I spent a lot of money on revenge. Against being apart I hid, but what was the point of the invisibility? The centre circle was expanded and moved into one of the corners, power shifting into a left arc with both hands, then turning back to the right. We looked for cover in the dark moorland of the inlet.

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2.If this is life: moving with pain, naming imperfection as order, it’s going to take a long time to sound like yourself. What forces us to be different? Accept, relax into identification with the shape, slip through the first gate. Mouth touched hair from the base where you go out, connect in the in-between. How to tell you what I’ve learned about where the movement starts?

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3.for Dinah Brown

The little cabin of the model fishing boat with dark blue windows; on deck a net, a life-ring. Drawing as movement, some kind of tension: dominant, dumb, lackadaisical. Asked to respond to the notion of hope, I reconciled the image to the idea. In the shared drawing you forget what you started; copying me copying you. I was bold to fill in the last area of white with a wide sweep of blue. A bee comes in through the open window. I label your marks as ‘containing’; you ‘strengthening’. Dynamic little figures that surrounded the edge of the flower, intuitive slips of the left hand. Hidden in my culture.

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4.A decayed ambulance – does it improve on the silence? Transforming the sadness in that part of the room, letting go of the frozen energy caught up there. Casting and layering lines – a pamphlet with a silver cover with the word TIME across its middle on a burgundy panel. An essay like a casket which could eat people. A book of recapitulations. A poem as a tool for energy retrieval. What you can imagine you can convey. Posture and alignment helps to keep energy flowing.

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5.Gradually the view of the hills opening up – crested by clouds – and the pink strip of sunrise colouring the space between. The poem as a machine for retrieving and recapitulating energy. An old, lost child. Sparrow catching insects on the compost bin. Stumbling upon a rave in the stone circle, driving a big, black saloon car into the sea with my mother. Tom offers me a line in a dream: ‘wearing chestnut brown slacks’. Mushrooms in the forest. Someone trying to speak the truth. The forest is a machine. By the lake, aware of every footprint, shape of marks in the mud, shape of the land. The edge of lucidity.

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6.In the raft of the species, what has fallen out of the gaze? To cut a breath in timespace takes language out to the periphery and folds it back on itself. Inside: the history of my nervous system – outside: the risk of a tonic slump, toxic race hate over the backs of your hands and suburban semi-detached. The end of the globe, the staff of the gland.


Scott Thurston is a poet, mover and educator. He has published sixteen books and chapbooks of poetry, including three full-length collections with Shearsman: Hold (2006), Momentum (2008) and Internal Rhyme (2010). More recent work includes Phrases towards a Kinepoetics (Contraband, 2020), We Must Betray Our Potential (The Red Ceilings, 2018), Draft Vicinity (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2018) and Poems for the Dance (Aquifer, 2017). Scott is founding co-editor of open access Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry and co-organized the long-running poetry reading series The Other Room in Manchester. Since 2004, he has been developing a poetics integrating dance and poetry which has seen him studying with dancers in Berlin and New York and collaborating with three dancers in the UK. Scott is Reader in English and Creative Writing at the University of Salford where he has taught since 2004.

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