Project number 3 – Text

So – this is the brief we were given a couple of weeks ago. Complete with my doodles.

My first thoughts were all about self improvement -or rather improvement of others… I could put my points across in any of 100s of places. A chance to rant! I felt energised and full of ideas of what I would tackle. But quite soon my energy fizzled out. There is so much out there already.. all the ways in which we are nagged and supervised and told what to do -in the public domain. I felt tired of it all.

A little later I went to my poetry writing class – where we had 20 minutes to write a “specular” poem.. (nothing to do with spectacles apparently..more like mirrors  – Latin – specula)


1. From the mid point of the poem every word contained up to that point must be used in the reverse order.

2. The punctuation may be varied in order for the structure to make sense.

the example we were shown is here

I wondered how to start and as usual I decided I would just have to write about what was in my mind. Then I would see if it worked backwards, and if not, fiddle with it until it did. Here’s my attempt, not great by any means but it did help me on my way with the text project!

the title is

“Project number 3”.

(to be put out in the public domain).

“Out in the public domain,”

I think of all the complaints – 

other people

their blindness – 

I feel so righteous…

Plastic, litter, narrow views of history

homelessness, imperialism, selfishness

oh you know, all that stuff.

My energy droops –

I feel so sad

another nagging,


bossy, demanding – 

The moral high ground is a lonely place

and I know 

 I really want  – 

Something written that

you could find

by chance.

It might make you

smile for a moment

Smile for a moment

It might make you!

By chance 

you could find

something written that

I really want.

And I know that 

the moral high ground is a lonely place –

bossy, demanding


Another nagging,

I feel so sad.

My energy droops.

Oh you know, all that stuff…

homelessness, imperialism, selfishness,

plastic, litter, narrow views of history

I feel so righteous – 

The blindness.

Other people.

I think of all the complaints

In the public domain.

I started making coasters, I thought I would put them in a cafe or the library and see if anyone smiles. (On the back I have written that if this makes you smile its yours, take it).

Six of those.

Meanwhile I have been thinking about the “Uncomfortable Oxford” walking tour. I thought about Cecil Rhodes and aspects of colonial/imperial history and ideology that are commemorated in one way and another in our city. And I thought of some of the people like Christian Cole – who are hardly commemorated at all, or just barely.  I started making some small replicas of the blue plaques, with verses from Hafiz, 

I began to imagine Cecil Rhodes in the afterlife, sitting and listening to Hafiz reciting his poetry, and finally taking on board the damage his imperialist mindset had done to the world.

In my work as a constellation facilitator we sometimes see a release in a current family system, when we imagine and represent something heavy in the past, and let it be taken care of by a greater ‘soul’. The thought that the brilliance of Hafiz could help us hold or contain the toxicity of colonialist ideology helped me imagine Rhodes descending from the pedestal he has in history and start to behave like a dead person.

And meanwhile each of us in our cities and in our lives, could look with more discernment at how we represent history and how we memorialise events, and find ways to include more and airbrush out less.

Tomorrow (29th November) I will be out in the city finding places to put my small markers.

Since I wrote this there’s a blog post from Uncomfortable Oxford that mentions the blue plaques – you can read that here: