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Phone call from… by Susan Utting and a new writing prompt from Ben Rogers

Writing Prompt – Phone Eavesdrop  by Ben Rogers

There is of course an ethical issue to listening to other people’s conversations in secret. However, with the rise of mobile phones there is an associated increase in the number of conversations (or at least one side of them) that you can hear with little or no effort, sometimes against your wishes, especially as people tend to amplify their voice on the phone compared to a face-to-face dialogue.  Today’s task is to channel the methods of playwright Alan Bennett, who used to carry a notebook in his pocket full of scribbled scraps of overheard conversation.  Eavesdrop onto part of the phone conversation of a stranger, and note some words and phrases from it.  Create a poem that includes some of this found text, the speech of your unwitting collaborator.

Poems of the Day – Phone call from… by Susan Utting

Today’s poems of the day are a series of ‘phone call poems’ that feature in Susan Utting’s fourth book Houses Without Walls.  This set of modern haiku are spartan and fragile, featuring “chill” and “grit” though also some humour.  In each poem, the reader is given some information where the call originates but not where it is targeted, adding to a feeling of spatial dislocation.

Poetry in Aldeburgh: Susan Utting is reading on Saturday 5th November 10am in the Peter Pears Gallery as part of ‘High Wire Act’ alongside Claire Dyer and Lesley Saunders.

Phone call from the North

There’s cherry blossom,
solid houses, poplar trees,
the grit we’re after.

Phone call from America

There’s an echo on
the line: your double, asking,
after mine’s answered.

Phone call from a phone box on the East Coast

And I feel the chill
that comes straight from the Steppes to
the point where gulls swoop.

Phone call from Hong Kong

The rug in the lift
changes each day, you say, but
the music doesn’t.

from Houses Without Walls (Two Rivers Press, 2006)

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