Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.

Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
https://rosetta-art-tribute.tumblr.com/post/144241709712/siobhan-logan-philaes-book-of-hours

My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
http://thesamsmith.webs.com/originalpluschapbooks.htm

Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
https://twitter.com/siobsi


About Me

My photo
Leicester, East Midlands
As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Red Moon at the Door


A poem to celebrate the big red moon that's going to roll into our skies in the early hours of tomorrow. This one was inspired by the last time I witnessed a lunar eclipse.








 

 
Blood Moon



 

a harvest spider

rolls paralysed prey

in plasma cocoon
 


a nicotine thumb

intrudes, penumbral blot

on spinster light

 


old master daubing

rose-gold flesh with umber

chiaroscuro




earth's basilisk breath

scorching elliptical slices

for amber teeth
 


till a raw knuckle

exposed, blood-smeared

knocks at our sky
 
 
 
 
 
(c) Siobhan Logan 2015
 
 
 
 
blood moon = red 'totality' of lunar eclipse











Sunday, 13 September 2015

Silent Seas & Talkies


No popcorn but a piano on-stage. Saturday mornings at the cinema just became a whole new experience. Or maybe we've been transported to a Twenties picture-house or 'Electric Palace' as they were billed. We were actually in Leicester's Phoenix Arts Cinema, a hub of local independent film-making in the digital age. But at 9am we settled down in the dark of Studio 2 for an inspired BFI homage to silent film with multiple features and live music.


WINDJAMMER

I'd been seduced by a B&W photo of a 'full-rigged' ship in all its matchstick beauty with echoes of Shackleton'sEndurance from the same era. What I hadn't expected was a dark documentary wrapped in an English comedy. Moreover, this silent documentary filmed by two Australian journalists-turned-sailors had then had 'talkie' scenes inserted by London film studios. Apparently a movie mogul had demanded: 'Don't that ship ever get to no place, for god's sake! 20 seconds of that sea-stuff is enough for anyone!' A comedy writer was hired to pen a fictional script while a cast of earthy 'swabbers' delivered the conflict. Love interest was supplied by various cut-out women pinned by the sailors to their bunks. Open-air deck scenes were pure documentary. But it was the uneasy and quarrelsome comradeship of the sea that the resulting 1930 movie zoomed in on below-deck.


 http://britishsilentfilmfestival.com/
The mogul was wrong about 'the sea stuff' and the writer missed the extraordinary real-life drama of the Grace Harwar voyage of 1929. It was two Australians, AJ Villiers and Gregory Walker, who ditched their jobs on a Melbourne paper to make a cinematic record of the last of the full-rigged grain ships of the era. Indeed it amazed me that long after luxury Cunard liners and WW1 U-boats, these wooden ships with billowing sails were still undertaking a perilous journey from Australia to London via the notorious Cape Horn. Walker and Villiers, both in their 20s, spent their life-savings on two cameras and joined an inexperienced and unlucky crew of 13 for a voyage of disasters. Following a becalming in the Doldrums, near starvation and food-poisoning by piglets, Walker was killed during a storm. The traumatised crew also saw two attempted suicides and one nervous-breakdown before limping into harbour a month late.


Credit:  Ronald Gregory Walker
National Library of Australia
Yet out of this disaster, Villiers salvaged a remarkable film, despite not knowing how to work all the equipment. The two journalists had no movie experience but Walker had had some flair with a camera. They were dedicated to capturing the fierce beauty of the high seas, and shots of giant waves rolling onto the decks and men pinned to the spars above wrestling with heavy canvas sails give the film a unique authenticity. To be fair to the Welwyn Studios who added all the below-deck talkie scenes, they created a claustrophobic atmosphere with constantly dripping bunks and convincing sound-effects of wind, wood and water. But the eeriest moment of the film is when the young hero, standing in for an unnamed Walker, is buried at sea. Real film footage of a harrowed crew grimly gathered on-deck is mixed with shots of studio actors and Grace Harwar's tragedy collides with a movie story-arc. In truth, the reason I found this film so affecting is because a pre-showing introduction by BFI speaker Laraine Porter framed the action with a history of the film's making. The intersection of Walker-Villiers raw footage, the 'sea-stuff', with an ensemble cast performance, made for a powerful maritime movie with a tragic undertow.
 
The Festival continues on Sunday 13th. Catch these rare cinematic gems while you can. I'll be looking them out in the BFI's store of DVDs along with Villier's book. More reviews to follow ...


Saturday, 5 September 2015

Singing Hairy Star


Josh Barker of the National Space Centre, spatula in hand, promised to unleash his 'inner Delia.' More like Inner Jamie, let loose in a lab - with a dash of St. Trinians thrown in. Starting with a black bin bag and cardboard box, he was soon hurling in metal filings, a jug of Shiraz and vials of chemicals. When he shovelled in frozen CO2, it began to steam like the mad experiments of a Hammer Horror professor. When he heaved in the whole container of dry ice, a 'sublimation' of frozen gases billowed out. Finally with a triumphant gesture, he lifted aloft the newborn 'comet', an icy lump that you could imagine orbiting through the Kuiper Belt.


 
Meanwhile Prof. John Bridge of the University of Leicester took us right out into space with his animations of comet 67Ps elliptical journey around the solar system to reach perihelion – its closet proximity to the sun. He could even pronounce Churyumov–Gerasimenko without flinching. As a Professor of Planetary Science, involved in the Stardust and Mars missions, he studies cometary samples and opened up the 'bigger picture' of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission for us. We got to see behind-the-scenes snaps of Rosetta's instruments being invented and he scattered in anecdotes and charts like Josh added ingredients. And there was real awe in his voice talking about the 'extraordinary feat' of the ESA landing a space probe on a comet 'at such velocities'.

 
My contribution was 'a mash-up of ancient myth and modern space adventure.' No dry ice involved. Instead I relied on fantastic Egyptian stories about the sun-god Ra's cyclical journey through our skies and then the underworld Duat. I explored the drama of Philae's own descent into that underworld facing comet 67P's fierce jets of 'dragon-breath' before the victory of its 'reboot' under the sun's influence. I was performing from my new work 'PHILAE'SDESCENT INTO DUAT: An Egyptian Book of Hours for the ESA's Comet-lander.' In the form of a scroll, it features my own illustrations and hieroglyphic symbols and includes some background notes on the mission and the mythology. There are copies still available - £3 each from me at siobsi@yahoo.co.uk.
 
 







We were well looked after by our hosts, Leicester'sAstronomical Society, a 'crew of gods' who kept us supplied with votive offerings of juice and biscuits. When all the spells had been chanted and we'd reached our own perihelion, we ended with a Q & A. Here's what our audience said afterwards:


'A stunning alchemy of myth, science and poetic genius!'

'An out of this world adventure.' 'Excellent evening!'

'Exhilarating … one of the more unusual spoken word events in the known universe.'
 

We also had two great reviews of our event – one by theatre critic SallyJacks for SabotageReviews – and the other by Margaret Penfold of Leicester Writers' Club. Take a look at where the event transported them to. Many thanks to our two thoughtful reviewers and to Carol Leeming for snapping these pics during the evening. Hopefully you may be inspired to dip into the ESA's excellent website to see their stunning photos of the 'Singing Hairy Star' and to follow the next episode of the adventure as Rosetta tails the comet till next September.