Art Orbit


This month marks the end of a project I started with Vici MacDonald (whose new blog is here: ) last spring. Vici has been taking photos of unloved parts of London for many years now. You could say we are both connoisseurs of urban blight; we’ve been known to go on expeditions to look at far-flung pumping stations and railway sidings. The grottier, the better. But these are the bits of the city which are being rediscovered, celebrated, especially when it seems they might be lost forever, to huge building projects like the Olympic Village or any number of sprawling developments of luxury flats. A lot of the places captured in Vici’s photos are already gone.

Our project ‘Formerly’ charts those urban sightings. My goal was to write 14 “loose” sonnets to accompany 14 of her photographs. This is the first poem from the series. Vici collects signage, and something about the chunky 70s certainty of Capacity House obviously appealed to her. My poem developed from a play on the name, a place that looks like less than its moniker suggests. Oh, and the last word I confess is a pretty obvious nod to the end of Berryman’s Dream Song number 14.

There will be more of these to come. Watch this space.


Fat chance you’ll ever break out of here,
this depository for great mistakes
you’ve made your home. Just enough room
for a bed and a stool, a cell of sorts,
for a man of thin means. Lean times.
But I’m a girl who’s capable
and culpable, who knows the value
of a pound. You can’t resist the give
of my carapace, my caterpillar lips,
my capacious thighs. I’ll never sell you
short. You’ll never let me down.
For the first time, you are full
to the very brim with the milk
of human kindness. Moo.