One of the most interesting conversations I have had about joy came from talking to somebody about anger. We have been making work about joy that morning and he entered into it with delight. Then he had the phone call. Everything changed after the phone call. He was seething, he was fuming, he wanted to go to war. And then we talked about the possibility of holding two emotions at the same time, about how happy he had been earlier in the morning. And what a contrast those two things were, both in the same person. And we started to think about whether joy was destroyed by anger, or could coexist with it.
This week at the Booth Centre the poetry is built up from that foundation. How do you protect your joy from the assaults of the world? Or, as Mathew put it, when describing how to survive insults: “It’s water off a motherf***ing duck’s back. Quack quack.”
And then we came to the question of how long joy can last. Can it be prolonged? And Joan suddenly talked about trying to catch the snow when you are a child. That image filled my head, The dancing snowflakes and the swirling kid and the upheld hands and the breathless anticipation. Joan took the idea and gently placed that it into this:
Into my heart
Joy is like making a snowman.
Seeing the faces of our children
As we make a snowman together.
Choices like love, trying to hold on
To snow as long as we can.
When angry, I’d rather hit a wall.
Kiss and make up, bring joy back.
In the afternoon we were joined by Andrei. He wrote three pages of questions to ask Joy. We selected some of them to make this poem but as he said he could’ve kept going and going and going. It’s a big subject, joy and the lack of it.
What is it. Euphoria, happiness — is it?
The Government doesn’t know what happiness is.
Can there be a joyous skyscraper?
Joy is not my fault or yours.
Is recording joyfulness a thing of joy?
Is there violent joy? A stomping yes!
And have you ever seen a bluebird?
This workshop was part of the project A Book of Ours, creating an illuminated manuscript with people who have experienced homelessness or at risk of. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Booth Centre is here to bring about positive change in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, to help them plan for and realise a better future.