Alexandra Park – Whalley Range
This week’s poem-handout wasn’t in a library but a park. I came to volunteer for Lady Pedal Festival – a celebration of women and cycling – for the second year running, and spent the first half an hour walking round the park, handing out poems and telling people to come down to the festival.
The poem I gave out was ‘Machines’ by Michael Donaghy, which instantly came to mind when I thought of giving a bike-related poem. Most people in the park were happy to receive a poem from a strange person in a high-vis jacket, and I even ventured outside the park to give one to a man just as he was stepping onto a bus – maybe it’ll inspire him to ride his bike next time, or learn the harpsichord…
From 3-4PM I also ran a haiku writing workshop. Here are some of the cycling haikus people came up with:
I love my red bell
Bing bing bikes by your elbows –
OOT the bloody way!
What a big old hill
Full english and a stodgey cake
Eyes water downhill
Ringing Manchester council
Twenty-third in queue
Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.
The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.
So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.
If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.