Disability Arts In Surrey, (Daisy): Our Future Selves revealed


Throughout October 2017, Our Future Selves brought together Daisy (Disability Arts in Surrey) and DAO (Disability Arts Online) with Surrey Libraries to deliver a series of workshops and spoken word events, funded by an Arts Council Grants for the Arts, award. Lynne E Blackwood reports on an outcome of the project working with The Grange a local partner in Guildford.

Photo of the author Lynne E. Blackwood at a desk with pen and paper in front of her

Lynne E. Blackwood in workshop

Words – we all need them, don’t we? Whether spoken or written, they are what we use to express our opinions and emotions, with some people finding it easier than others – writers for instance.

We create poetry and fiction, write these words down or stand up and speak to enthral and move our readers and audiences. But what happens with others who find writing and even expressing words difficult, for one reason or another? Don’t we all have something to say or tell, despite or because of barriers? This was the aim of the Disability Arts Online and Daisyfest poetry workshop at Guildford Library with a group from The Grange – facilitate those words that would otherwise have remained hidden.

Poetry is made up of words that can be spoken and not necessarily written down, so with Colin Hambrook, John O’Donoghue and myself, we set to work with Jack, Tegan, Lucy, Tracy, Helen and Anissa to WRITE POETRY! on the theme of Our Future Selves.

Patchwork quilt of an array of vibrant knitted collours wiht the words Our Future Selves by The Grange, embroidered into it.

Photo of the knitted book made by residents at the Grange for Our Future Selves

In the welcoming environment of Guildford Library and around tea, coffee and delicious Danish pastries kindly provided by the staff, we dipped into a supply of paper and pens and set to work, amidst crumbs, sticky fingers and under the benevolent eyes of Callum from Daisyfest and John Case of Surrey County Council.

John O'Donoghue and Lynne E. Blackwood in the audience listening to a spoken word performance

John O’Donoghue and Lynne E. Blackwood. Photo by Callum Graham

I was paired with Anissa [a big hello!] and after initial shyness and probable wariness of this strange woman [me] coaxing out her words, we became such good friends, laughing together at her wicked sense of humour and cheekiness. It was a delight to hear all those words spoken by each of the participants and to share their enjoyment at finally being heard.

First, we wrote a page about the best things in a day, which we called My Diary and favourite words or sentences were chosen, written on post-its and stuck precariously onto the wall. John, Colin and I had a great time taking turns to improvise, invent and read out a collective poem each.

Then, we wrote a Letter to the Future asking for what we wanted for our lives. Once again, Anissa made me chuckle with her desire for a luxury submarine, equipped with spa, beautician, hunky lifeguard and a husband to visit the world and be free. Other participants had other desires, some more down-to-earth, but all wanted to be heard. Selected words were again written onto post-its and stuck to the wall for John, Colin and I to improvise more poems.

The day was rewarding and fun for everyone. It was a delight and privilege to work with such sensitive and lovely people who, although they have difficulties, gave us all an insight into those hitherto unspoken desires about what they wish for themselves and how they see the world. I sincerely hope to meet with them or others from The Grange on another occasion and share the richness of their lives through words. Words are freedom, and as one of Anissa’s chosen post-its read – I WANT TO BE FREE!

My Day Diary

I don’t like getting out of bed
after dreams of making Thai
curry from scratch.

But a favourite time of mine
is hair under the shower
with shampoo all frothy.

Then I peel back the curtains,
watch the sun melt frost
on the window;

look at the blackbirds swing
on the washing line,
as they sing

with the wind
in the treetops.

I’m active but don’t like chores,
prefer gymnastics, swimming
and long walks outdoors,

or going to the pub for a drink;
tread over piles of dead leaves,
hear my boots crunch.

Then I get hungry and think
of a Chicken Kiev lunch.
Now it’s siesta time,

followed by dinner and tea
with silly poems and stories,
enjoying my own company.

Because I’m a lone wolf,
And I can do what I like.
Anissa, Jack, Lucy, Teagan & Tracey


Dear Future

We hope you will take this letter to heart
because we all wish for a better life
and this list of wishes is only a start:

We dream of a hotel in the Maldives,
surrounded by nature’s sounds;
a luxury suite drenched in the perfume
of lavender and purple exotic flowers.

We’ll jump into a sparkling blue lagoon
and swim with dolphins; learn to dive
to visit underwater sea life.

In the evening, we’ll sip a Pina Colada
with our royal family, as we listen
to Thai music and watch the bonfire
on the beach rise higher and higher.

Then take a luxury tour with Take That
and buy the Disney film collection.
But, on a more thoughtful note –

listen to tall women play classical music
in churches; learn and teach Braille;
a husband or wife would be nice,
though we value one thing most –
Anissa, Jack, Lucy, Tegan & Tracey