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Vince Laws is a poet, artist, performer, campaigner. He writes poetry, performs poetry and makes visual poetry, paintings, collage, posters, film, installations and recordings: “As an artist, I define what art is. As a poet, I define what a poem is. If my art can be anything from a painting to a concept, so can my poetry. I am a poem.”

DAO is pleased to welcome a new blog from visual poet Vince Laws

4 June 2010

Blog

series of medication bottles and boxes with the word 'human' painted on them in red

Disability Pride Tonight, June 4, I’m performing at the Norwich Arts Centre, at a Disability Pride benefit gig. Tomorrow, June 5, I’m showing visual poetry in the Disability Pride art show at the Forum in Norwich. One of the pieces is called Human. I wrote it for World Aids Day 2009 and then wondered how to make it visual. I decided to write it out letter-by-letter on my empty HIV and Hep C and side-effects empty medication boxes and bottles. A week before I was due to show it, I...

Comments: 5

Vince Laws talks about the commission of his radio play Small Frayed Knot

7 June 2010

Blog

a mirror image of blood red writing on white paper

Late last year, Future Radio, Norwich, commissioned a 15-minute radio play from me. Soon after that, I spent a week in Yorkshire on an Arvon residential poetry course in Ted Hughes’s old house, specifically aimed at taking poetry from page to stage. I was encouraged to fill in the back-stories to some of my more confessional poems. All this together resulted in The Small Frayed Knot. The title is a line from my poem Diagnosed, which I made into a visual piece by painting the left side of...

Comments: 3

Vince Laws gets out of a spot of bother with the BBC

13 June 2010

Blog

No Complaints So Far… I do like firsts, don’t you? Last week was Refugee Week and the giant Fusion screen at The Forum in Norwich screened a whole series of short films made by the participants around the theme of ‘Identity’. In some ways it’s easier for a poet. I turned up at the BBC Open Studio with my script - the poem Human, something I’d already worked on for a considerable time, honing and crafting - and two volunteers filmed me on the streets of...

Comments: 5

Vince Laws goes in search of his missing Poster Poem

14 June 2010

Blog

image of a union jack with a slogan painted on it

I got tired of hearing that to suggest the troops come home is unpatriotic. The logical conclusion of that argument must be: Support the Troops – Start Another War. I first hung this poster poem on the railings of a church in Norwich, stepped back, and listened in. Some people laughed, some frowned and shook their heads, a man of the cloth tutted and hurried past. Three schoolgirls were outraged, “Why would anyone want to start another war?” they wailed at each other. Why...

Comments: 6

Vince Laws on the importance of Disability Pride

14 June 2010

Blog

Disability Pride logo

I was telling a disabled woman I know, let’s call her Tina, that I was about to perform at Disability Pride. “I don’t get it,” she said, with a frown. “What have we got to be proud of?” I was a bit taken aback. Maybe it’s easier for me to understand as a gay man because I’ve grown up with Gay Pride events. These events have given the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community visibility, strength in numbers, a chance to educate the wider...

Comments: 4

Vince Laws redefines poetry with a performance of his Silent Poem

17 June 2010

Blog

The silver lining to a prolonged period of depression and inactivity last year was the time to think. I came out from under the duvet of darkness determined to pursue a career as a poet and artist. More specifically I wanted to perform my poetry in front of live audiences because that’s when it’s at its most powerful. And I wanted to continue exploring visual poetry, taking poetry off the page in every sense. I became increasingly dissatisfied with the definition of poetry –...

Comments: 13

Vince Laws joins the Human Library

19 June 2010

Blog

Crippen cartoon of a wheelchair-user under a desk

I’d never heard of the Human Library until I was asked to be a ‘book’ in February as part of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) History Month. As it happens, that event was cancelled, but I liked the concept so much I went on the training course and held a Human Library within a 2-week art exhibition I curated in May/June. Instead of borrowing a book, visitors borrow a Human, and sit down with them and chat for 30 minutes. Titles at my event included Wiccan Priestess,...

Comments: 6

Vince Laws recalls one fine Father's Day

21 June 2010

Blog

photo of dog with poet Vince Laws

I was living in Brighton, when Father’s Day came around, and in my house I’m the Daddy! Neither my boyfriend nor my dog sent me a card or said a word all day, so I went for a walk in a huff. Badger was just a 3-month-old pup then, and this is what happened… My Father’s Day Gift I took the dog for a walk feeling a touch sorry for myself, Father’s Day sun was touching the Downs and no one had said a word that much mattered. But then Badger saw rabbits today, for the...

Comments: 4

Vince Laws shares a piece of visual artwork about what 'they' did to his head

25 June 2010

Blog

photo of artist next to a circular piece of artwork

Last year I got called in to the Job Centre during a long period of illness. “I see you are a magazine editor,” the person behind the counter said. “I was,” I explained, “but I don’t want to do that any more. It’s too stressful.” “What do you want to do?” “I want to be a poet and an artist.” I fully expected to be told to stack shelves. “We can help you with that...” And they did. First I saw a Shaw Trust...

Comments: 5

Vince Laws is a burning poem

10 July 2010

Blog

photo of a series of painted and carved books in amongst some grass

I’m right in the middle of getting a window installation together and I thought I’d share part of it with you. I’m treating the whole gallery window as my canvas. On the windowsill there will be a row of old poetry books. I have cut them into letters that spell, I AM A POEM. I used Ezra Pound for the I because he said, “Make it new!” – and I try to oblige. Other poets cut up include TS Eliot, Ted Hughes, ee cummings, blah blah blah. I like the shapes the...

Comments: 0

Vince Laws considers 'audacity' and makes another version of 'i am a poem'

14 July 2010

Blog

photo of a reflection in a shop window showing Vince Laws I am a Poem sculpture

...and one day in the future at a university lecture a lass will lift a languid limb and ask, almost seductively if you the poet, writing this now really had the audacity all those years ago to write 'work as good as this got me here I want to make a visual representation of the poem audacity, above, to go in a gallery window. I’ve cut out postcard letters spelling audacity. I’m going to suspend audacity in front of a mirror so it looks like it’s hanging in the air....

Comments: 1

Vince Laws takes up the OUT140 challenge to tell a coming-out story in 140 characters

9 August 2010

Blog

photo of artist in front of visual poem on a wall

I told my parents I was bisexual when I was 16. They said "go to your room." I’m involved in a project on Twitter called OUT140, which has collected coming-out stories from the LGBT community, their friends and families, told in 140 characters or less (i.e. a tweet on Twitter). Some participants then made their stories into 12-second films, which were shown on the giant Fusion screen in Norwich, Europe’s biggest public access screen, for 2 weeks in January 2010. Mother said i wud...

Comments: 1

Vince Laws wants your pants to welcome the Pope

20 August 2010

Blog

digitised purple image with a set of pants on a washing line

I’m not very keen on the current Pope. I’ve been thinking how I could protest his visit to the UK (September 16-19) and satisfy my poetic and artistic needs, and here’s the solution: Ladies and gentlemen, I want your pants! If there's a pair you never wear lurking in a drawer somewhere I want 15 pairs to peg on a line. I will print a letter on each and hang them up so they spell out THIS POPE IS PANTS. The more pants I get, the more THIS POPE IS PANTS bunting I will make. If...

Comments: 4

Vince Laws puts his pants on the line for the Pope

14 September 2010

Blog

photo of a house with This Pope is Pants bunting

The Politics of Protest As explained in my previous blog I’m protesting the Pope’s visit to the UK with a visual poem, THIS POPE IS PANTS. BBC Radio Suffolk offered to interview me if I had a Suffolk connection. I rang a friend who owns a pub in Suffolk and got permission to lie and say I could hang three strings of THIS POPE IS PANTS bunting on the pub during the Pope’s four day visit. I got my interview! Immediately before the pre-recorded interview took place the presenter...

Comments: 6

Vince Laws takes to the streets with the Norwich Dandies for the Wellbeing Festival

15 October 2010

Blog

photo of a young girl holding up a painting in front of a group of young people

Earlier this year, frustrated with the difficulties of finding gallery space, I rented a whole church and put together a group of artists whose work I like and we called ourselves The Norwich Dandies. Last weekend the Dandies took part in a Wellbeing Festival outside the Forum in Norwich, promoting the five ways to wellbeing, i.e. Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give, as created by the New Economics Foundation. Eloise brought all the bits and pieces needed to make recycled...

Comments: 4

Vince Laws organises a candlelit vigil in support of the 'No to Hate Crime' campaign

18 October 2010

Blog

No one should have to suffer physical or verbal abuse for being who they are, regardless of their race, sexuality, faith, disability, whatever. On Saturday 23 October there will be Candlelit Vigils organised by the No To Hate Crime Campaign in Toronto, London, Brighton, and Norwich. The Vigils began as a response to the nail bomb attacks in London some years ago, and are an opportunity for the silent majority to show their support for the vulnerable, and their opposition to the bigots.  I...

Comments: 0

Killing themselves may not be their Intention…

31 October 2010

Blog

I’m HIV+ and dealing with depression and in practical terms that means I lack energy and I get anxious and I find paperwork and officialdom daunting. I’m on Employment & Support Allowance and Housing Benefit and receive lower rates of DLA for care and mobility. That said, I undertake permitted work, I can earn up £92 per week on top of my benefits, though work has been scarce.  On September 8 I went for a medical assessment as instructed by the benefit...

Comments: 3

Vince Laws offers some culinary tips with a dash of poetic licence...

17 November 2010

Blog

EAT THE POOR Recipe 1 Scapegoat Curry: Ask your local Lib Dem or Tory butcher to cut scrag end of poor person into bite-sized chunks. Pepper with insults. Fry until no longer red, then set aside. Tip the chilly winter sauce into the pan, add slander, diced threats, chopped benefits, and reduce forever. Serve cold, topped with a banker’s bonus. Enjoy.  EAT THE POOR Recipe 2 Stuffed Student. Ask your local Lib Dem or Tory butcher to fillet a student as near to the bone as possible and...

Comments: 2

Vince Laws is writing A Very Queer Faust!

28 February 2011

Blog

I haven’t blogged for ages and here’s the reason why: I’m in the process of writing A Very Queer Faust! Yesterday we recorded the first 10 minutes, today that was edited and sound effects added. First broadcast on Sunday 27 February 5-6pm, as part of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans History Month, it is now available via podcast at www.futureradio.co.uk. The podcast begins with a children's story.... then me interviewed by Kate Roma... then 10 minutes of A Very Queer Faust....

Comments: 0

Vince Laws invites contributions for the Living Poem

16 May 2011

Blog

It started as an idea. What would happen if you asked people to add words to a poem? Or substitute words? I’ll find out on Saturday 14th May when The Living Poem is launched (7.30-9.30pm) at St Margaret’s Church of Art, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, as part of the annual Fringe Festival. In fact I’ve been allocated such a generous space there will be 6 Living Poems, with the public invited to answer the following questions: What do you believe in? What mistake did you...

Comments: 0

Vince publishes a Poem for a Wedding

25 May 2011

Blog

poem artwork which reads I'll take my vows and lie with you on a bed of fresh lime leaves

I was commissioned to write a poem for a wedding. Here it is. Vows Would you care to dance with me through tunnels of trees and lime leaves so sharply green I fear for our safety? Take me by the hand and let’s enjoy a long slow waltz old fashioned maybe but far from false. Would you care to dance with me beneath boughs and across a floral veranda? Any dance will do if it’s danced with you - a foxtrot or a samba. Would you care to dance with me? Lead me to the floor and embrace me...

Comments: 0

Living Poem

14 June 2011

Blog

photo of a woman standing next to a series of words on a wall

Results of the Living Poem, devised by Vince Laws, Trudy Howson and the Out Write crew, held in St Margaret’s Church of Art, as part of Norwich Fringe Festival, 15-28 May 2011. In bold are the questions asked, followed by the public responses. What have you been? I have been… A bucket of broken glass. Crimson on a brilliant white sink. Overly affected by other people. Let down. Burnt, held underwater until I drowned, born many times, made breathless by love, strangled, fucked every...

Comments: 0

Painting for Peter Tatchell

20 June 2011

Blog

painting of Peter Tatchell using stencils and bright colours

On July 1st the Norwich Pride Portrait show opens at St Gregory’s Church of Art, Pottergate, Norwich. Inspired by this I’ve worked on a series of self-portraits, 3 done, another on the way. I’m not interested in what I look like, but what represents me. And then I thought I’d like to try and represent someone else – but who to choose? I’ve chosen Peter Tatchell. I haven’t always admired him, to my shame. When I was a closeted younger man, I used to wish...

Comments: 3

Do Not Stop Taking Your Medication

20 July 2011

Blog

series of medication bottles and boxes with the word 'human' painted on them in red

I’ve just stopped taking my medication. Five days ago as I write. I see it as an act of self-preservation rather than an act of self-harm. I’m struggling with my mental health. To be honest, it feels like another man inhabits my body and controls my life, while I am a spectator with no power to intervene. Because I’m in this place, I’m taking anti-depressants. I have all sorts of anxieties about social occasions but like where I live and feel safe there. To go anywhere...

Comments: 5

Did we need these riots?

16 August 2011

Blog

Big Society begging bowl

Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, warned about riots in April 2010, a month before the last general election.You can see him talking prior to the election in this clip on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YItK1izQIwo “It’s rather a silly thing to say frankly,” was David Cameron’s response. If I could riot without looting, violence and arson, I would. Oh hang on a minute, that’s peaceful protest isn’t it? I’ve tried that. I’ve written...

Comments: 0