Character Studies

On Sunday, I ran the last of my writer’s residency workshops at the Portsmouth Museum. Rosalinda Hardiman, whose long career as a curator has inspired the exhibition ‘A Hard Choice’, came and spoke to the group with great eloquence and enthusiasm about her work. It was a great start to a wonderfully creative morning. I asked participants to create characters around objects they had chosen from the collection. The stories that emerged were full of imagination, drama and humour. I look forward to including them in our anthology to celebrate my residency. The deadline for submissions is July 20th. Find out more information here.

Here’s a poem I’ve written inspired by Sunday’s workshop and the brilliant characters that were created –

A Question of Character

An octopus regrets his insignificance
as the man who never leaves home
threatens to sue the shape of chairs.
Cheap copies of Ikea cushions
that chatter in the night
as the magpie murderer taps the glass,
murmuring of her eel forks buried in the attic,
the compromises made with poverty
and how she would have loved
to step out of the painting,
to choose secrets and a ménage a trois.

She’d never written it down before
but that last love letter hidden
in the museum for messages in a bottle,
begged him to sit down in the wooden elegance
of his war medals and know that now was the time
to heal those old wounds, to travel back to Madras,
where her mother had shot tigers, and read
the old stories preserved with such fragile grace.


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