City & identity

I was recently awarded an Artist’s Bursary to respond creatively to Southampton’s Creative City conference. Some of the themes that arose were diversity, the city’s identity, and communication between its arts/cultural groups. The Bursary came with a very broad remit – part of my reponse was this poem, performed at the Plenary, and giving a sense of what we want to become combined with what we currently are.

Who are we?

We are confident,
integrated,
deeply desirable, thoroughly
facilitated. We are
top-down
but want to be more bottom-up,
committed and connected,
going to get busy, shake
the fizzy bottle ‘til the top pops
and we find out
what’s hit us in the face. We are
unsafe, vanguards,
vibrant, viable,
non-hierarchical,
unhindered
by lack of funds;
we are sustainable,
inclusive, ecological,
getting and giving money for our time.
We are diverse,
accessible
and revel in our sense of agency,
doing, not done-to,
building and keeping momentum –
yes, we are momentous, we
walk on the wild side,
play the long game,
just occasionally
embracing those clichés; we
stand in front of Toys-R-Us
to tell our stories,  record them
on the journalism bus,
reel like drunk teenagers, all
rum-and-Coke, sat on gravestones
after getting dumped. We are
just a bit Little Beirut,
a touch of Hull,
a generous measure of
the Dissenters’ Chapel,
feeling disruptive, busting
power structures, barriers,
past notions and narrative norms.
We are not
all about shopping,
the scent
of franchised kebabs
or throwing up in post-pub gutters.
We write
postcards from the future,
wave placards of ambition,
map out our space and yes,
we support our artists.

We.
Support.
Our artists.

We are
a critical mass of creativity,
an emotional multi-whatnot,
valued, ubiquitous,
valuing, buzzing along
our imaginative trajectory towards,
well,
we don’t know yet –
it’s up to us.
Who are we?
We are Southampton.

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