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Return from Barcelona

June 16, 2013

Facade of Casa Batlo, Barcelona
Upon my return from Barcelona I decided to share with you the process which led to the creation of ‘Festival Frieze’, a poem inspired by the facade of the Casa Batlo built by Gaudi in 1907.
The house was built for Joseph Batlo, an industrialist and then head of the Batlo family who still own it today. Although at over 20 euros per person, the entrance fee is a bit steep, the experience is worth it.
The house is built around the concept of the marine world. The hallway is designed as an underground sea cavern complete with the spine (winding staircase) of a sea dragon (which is eventually found on the roof), the walls are covered in snakeskin patterns and, as usual with Gaudi, all lines are curved.
The sewing room contains a visitors’ book which invites people to express their feelings about the house. One visitor wrote: ‘it opens my heart.’ My response is that: ‘it blew my mind.’
I was particularly inspired by the facade. Although Salvador Dali described it as: ‘the tranquil waters of a lake,’ the pelvic girdles clamped to the front of the wall left me with a more sinister impression. I combined these thoughts with other ideas conjured while wandering the streets of Barcelona, including the gothic quarter which attracts stag and hen parties, and coming across an exhibition on Darwin’s origin of species theory in the Maritime Museum.
The interpretation panels in the museum were a mixture of bold and normal text. I have used this technique to highlight words gathered whilst reading a tourist guide during the outbound flight. The rest of the poem, written in normal text, developed from a series of sensory walks through the city.
Festival Frieze
We scream the silent screams
of sirens studded to the facade
of the Batlo mausoleum,
rack upon rack of pelvic
carnival masks suspended
in frozen animation.

When the master’s name fades
we’ll explode as one
from the sculpted frieze,
swoop down the Passeig de Gracia,
haunt the alleys and arcades
of the Barri Gotic,
fuse with the seasonal stream
of brides and grooms to be.

Gaudi’s aim was to transpose natural figures into artificial forms. In this poem my aim is to reverse the process.
Should you wish to use this creative exercise to produce poetry about a place, the sequence is to gather words which stand out for you from leaflets/brochures, visit the location and take a sensory walk through it, noting words, thoughts and ideas that come to you at the time, and then fuse the two into something new.
Please feel free to share the results in the comments section of this post if you decide to try out the exercise.

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From → Fantasy Poetry

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