Refugees and recipes at Poetry Swindon Festival

3 Oct

This morning at a workshop at Poetry Swindon Festival, poet, publisher and teacher Robert Vas Dias had us creating a poem through the powerful blending of a Nigel Slater recipe and a Guardian news report.

Some lines were picked by pre-randomly generated numbers (each line on report and recipe were numbered), some – like the one below – were picked by way of a roulette wheel.

Logically I appreciate there can be an almost infinite number of combinations which – also logically – could equal a big wordy mess. But Robert had picked those two pieces for good reason – a fancy cookery book recipe and a news report of Syrian refugees who died after eating poisonous mushrooms.

Some of our ‘chaos’ poems morphed into a whole recipe; others became grotesquely tragic. We’d laugh at the absurdity then, still laughing, be thrust into a tragic line. Another became all about the poison. Interpretation also happened with performance.

Participant Cathy Dyer said this approach reflected how she felt about the refugee crisis: “It doesn’t make sense. Our response as people doesn’t make sense… [This went] Well beyond irony. Into horror and shame.”

Here’s what the roulette wheel came up with for me (with a few conjunctives removed):

A Compromise Between Chaos and Self-determination

Save him. Another Syrian is in a critical
melted butter and oil in a shallow
small pan and reduce to half.
Grate the zest from the lemons
away from the element for ten minutes.
Endured to get here,
them for the bearded Amanita, which is
gently, then add a little salt and the
malfunction due to the amatoxin.
Serve the kale underneath the
save him. Another Syrian is in a critical
of the clementines. Pour in the wine
high: “in my 70-year lifespan, there have
lum seekers who have already arrived in
the seasoning.
Prof Siegmar Berndt, the head toxicolo-
death cap mushroom, once con
Longer if you have it.
40 reported cases, mainly linked
roasting tin. Trickle a tablespoon or so

Post by Louisa Davison

Louisa Davison is also known as Agent Louisa at Secret Agent Marketing

One Response to “Refugees and recipes at Poetry Swindon Festival”


  1. Is this how God felt? Battered Moons and Pascale Petit at Poetry Swindon Festival | Festival Chronicle - 4th Oct 2015

    […] *See previous post […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: