Sunday, 29 December 2013

Dylan Thomas - On Immortality

Find yourself the Everyman edition of Dylan's Collected Poems (ed. Davies and Maud), which collects the poems he chose to keep and publish in 1952. I am using the 1993 edition if you are trying to follow my page references. And Death Shall Have No Dominion (pg. 56) was Dylan's first published poem (at the tender age of 18), although he edited it heavily later in the version we now have.

It varies a well known bible verse from (St. Paul's Epistle to the) Romans 6:9 as the repeating phrase at the opening and closing of each of the three stanzas. This repetition and the insistent rhythm gives the poem its power as a meditation on immortality. If you're going to say something more than once, make it something worth hearing.

Boats at Laugharne
Most of the lines elaborating the theme are end-stopped, so it's interesting to focus on those that are not as they break that pattern and draw attention. There are three enjambed lines, one in each stanza:

'Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon.'

'Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily.'

'Where blew a flower may a flower no more
lift its head to the blows of rain.'

In each of these there is yet more repetition (man/man, winding/windily and flower, repeated even on the same line). Is this lazy writing? Perhaps the last one as the object is the same, but not the others I think as these add to the circular effect of the poem turning over its ideas on themselves.

I am curious as to the nature of the man in the wind and the west moon. We know of the man in the moon, but not in the wind, so that seems a playful variant. But the man in the west moon? What does he mean by the west moon. Literally there is no such thing, we only have one moon. The moon over Wales i.e. in the west perhaps? But why? As illustration of the poem's panthesism is one suggested explanation.

As to windings/windily, this jars for me rather badly and if it were my poem, I'd have edited that out. The flower line on the other hand is interesting, or rather the blows of rain are a clever conjuring of the wind and its punches and is imagery extended in the next to lines: 'dead as nails' and 'hammer'. Dead as nails seems again to be Dylan invention, we know deaf as a post or thick as a board, but not this.

The mention of the unicorn myth and its abilities to dispel evil in stanza two is rather suspect and undermines the poem from within, even more so as this is the only line in which the syntax is tortured. I am inclined to smirk at this image, and that's me being unkind and reading it eighty years after it was written, but it does give the poem a risible register. This is a pity, but yet, classic Dylan imagery is at work here: moon, sea, stars, bones, all busily resisting death.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Poetry News and a wish

Next year sees an important anniversary.

It's hard for me to become in any way excited about the continuous bruhahah that is going to hit our screens, airwaves, and streets next year in celebration or commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War. It's going to be as bad in France as it is in the UK. All sorts of fun and games.

I refuse to join in, as a life long pacifist, my contribution is limited and predictably poetic. I am pleased to have been asked to contribute a poem the forthcoming Two Rivers Press anthology, The Arts of Peace. I also offer you this poem about my grandfather from my forthcoming book, I-spy and shanty  and wish you a peaceful new year:


Timed for his homecoming on Rhymney Bridge 
that November day, my grandfather flung 
his banded ribbons into clouds of smoke.
Then, nothing - 
as if all his barbed-wire memories of lice, 
blood-stench, mud left him that second, 
passed out skywards and were gone.
As a child on his knee when I leaned against
his tarry tweed and dared to ask - silence.
A boy with a metal detector, idling home
over the river one too-hot summer’s night,
is deafened by the screams of those bronze discs.
So I keep a vigil, a daily eBay search:
A.N. WWI medals - to date, no hits.

Pierre Huyghe at the Pompidou

Brandishing my newly acquired membership card, I've now visited this exhibition four times with three different guests. What a marvellous thing this is. I feel like I own the place. Would you like to pop into my art collection? It's just a ten minutes walk from my house.

Pierre Huyghe is new to me, but then my knowledge of contemporary art if rather British-centric. The show is fifty works covering film, sculpture, painting, photographs, mixed media, sand, rain, snow, ice and live animals. Yes, you read that right: human, dog, fish, crabs and bees, variously walk and crawl around the galleries. It's a wild ride with films ranging from the risible to the awe inspiring. There is even a sound piece you can play with yourself if you like industrial noise. I love it. but the only down side is that it's so inviting to interact with the works, it's hard to control the urge not to touch everything.

Well worth repeated visits, I am enjoying it more each time, but don't expect the bees to be doing anything spectacular. It's cold and they are cuddled up on the honeycomb. Hurry if you want to dream away the holidays. You have until 6 January.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Paris Lit Up Writing Workshops - January 2014 - News

My next making workshop is on Sunday 5 January in the library at Shakespeare and Company as usual at 12h30h.

and NEW for 2014 starting on Saturday 11 January at the Cafe Apparement at 16h is a two hour weekly feedback workshop hosted by either Jason Francis Mc Gimsey, Paul Stephenson or me.

Do think about coming to one or other or both of these to kick start your writing year.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mandela Street Art - Paris

A timely work spotted this week in rue Denoyez, 20eme. It's rather wonderful and indeed Education is the power.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Surrealism and the Object at the Pompidou

It must be the quietest block busting show in Paris. No queues. No block to bust. Hmm. I'm guessing surrealism might have had its day with the current art crowd. Despite the surprise that some of these things are nearly a hundred years' old, it was nice to see some favourites like Dali's Lobster Telephone, Magritte's cloud head and painting called this is a piece of cheese (Ceci est un Morceau de Fromage),  a couple of Chirico paintings and Man Ray's photographs (Woman as a hand mixer and the like).

Interestingly arranged with selected objects from the various International Surrealist shows of the 1930s and 40s, the most striking rooms were those dedicated to Miro, and Giocametti, whose abstract sculptures are less well known than his tall thin figures. Although to be fair I am not a Miro fan, so I amused myself taking pictures of men looking at a woman.
By far the most risible work is the collection of fish tank rocks, temples and bridges; a found piece that might have been best left in the pet shop. It was interesting to see some contemporary works too like Ed Rucha's simple placemat, but then I am a sucker for art with words.

Revelation of the day - that Andre Breton had very neat handwriting.

Go if you must, but not with young kids, as there are rather too many phalluses. It's on until 3 March 2014, so plenty of time to choose other exhibitions to see.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Poetry reading at the Torriano Meeting House

A hugely enjoyable reading with other Eyewear poets at the Torriano Meeting House in Kentish Town on 8 December.

Thanks everyone for coming, especially those who came especially to hear, and indeed cheer, me. It was really heart warming to have such an enthusiastic reception for my work.

Make a resolution for the New Year - let poets know how much you enjoyed what you heard. It makes it all worthwhile. That and buying our books of course!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Foals @ Zenith

The Foals are a very good band. I like them a lot.

If you don't know what their music is like, let me try to describe it to you: take a large dollop of The Cure, stir in some Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, and the tiniest bit of Dire Straits (can't believe I just typed that), mix vigorously into a trance and spread onto the stage with a fabulous light show. Great!

But, and here's the rub: an hour and twenty minutes does not a concert make. It was far, far too short. Musicality ten out of ten. Value for money, zero. I can only imagine that as it was the last night of their tour, they were very tired and their mothers had told them to come home as they have school in the morning.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Poetry News

A significant new anthology of poetry, just published, on Human Rights and Social Justice, includes my poem The Mattress. I am very proud.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Writing Workshop

My next Paris Lit Up writing workshop is at Shakespeare and Company on Sunday 1 December at 12h30. The theme is THE DARK. Details here

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at L'Orangerie

No cafe at the Orangerie! Why have I not noticed this before? It is a serious problem when you have been queuing for a couple of hours in the rain on a grey Paris day to get into this must see exhibit and all you want is to cup your hands around a mug of something hot. Eventually we thawed out, but it wasn't until we were half way round that we took off our coats. So be warned, dress warmly, bring your own refreshments.

Physical (dis)comfort aside, it's a cracker. The exhibition is all about creative partnership and the chiming of work: Rivera's monumental murals (reproductions of parts of, together with film footage and sketches) and portraits with Kahlo's paintings (portraits and self-portraits). Inevitably some well known works and particular favourites were not there. But it wasn't trying to collect everything into two retrospectives, there wouldn't have been space. What is there is very representative of both artists and turned up some surprises for me, who thought she knew their work.

Rivera's early Cubist and Post-Impressionist work from his time in Europe was a surprise, especially the Zapatista Landscape, a striking and brightly coloured Cubist piece of gun, blanket and landscape with volcanoes, and the Fountain at Toledo with its stunning red horse.

Kahlo's very auto-biographical works are well placed in a central room, appropriately womb-like. I find it very difficult to look at the paintings of her in hospital after her miscarriages and accident, especially The Broken Column with its nails and shroud, and her Self-portrait with a Monkey. They are so moving. I wept. Her beautiful velvet portraits of herself and Alicia Galant are perfect in their classicism. I wanted to take them both home.

There is a wide selection of drawings, photographs and film footage and a crash course in twentieth century Mexican history. It's well worth the wait, the cold and the crowd. Ten euros and you get the Monets and the rest of the permanent collection thrown in. A great way to shelter from the weather. It's on until the end of January.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Reading at Ivy Writers

Here's a little snippet of me reading on 22 October at Ivy Writers for your viewing pleasure

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Paris Lit Up - Magazine launch

It was stupendous, wonderful and fanastic! Our launch party ripped and roared its way into the Paris night. Details here and please, please, please, if you are in Paris, buy a copy of the magazine and if you are not please, please, please buy an ebook copy.

Thank you for supporting all our literary adventures.

Friday, 11 October 2013

PLU Writing Workshop

My next workshop will be: 'NO IDEAS BUT IN THINGS.'

Explore William Carlos Williams' famous dictat with me and find new ways to make poems, prose, flash fiction, texts from and into Objects and Memories. 

Please bring with you one object of any kind that is particularly precious, but not necessarily in the monetary sense. Details of location, time, cost etc. here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Maddaddam - Atwood Trilogy ends

Much sadness last night at 3am when, disturbed and restless I woke unable to get back to sleep, so I finished the final chapters of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake trilogy.

It's been a ten year read on and off waiting for the books to appear. The first was in the early noughties when I was living in California and lucky enough to have one inscribed by the great lady herself. in person (not by the remote pen she invented for the task, just to be clear).

She's the only novelist whose books I buy in hard back the minute they are published and this is why:  a) she's the queen of distopian fiction,  b) she mashes up point of view and narrative voice and sophistication, and  c) it's a darn good tale.

Pity she didn't win the Nobel today, but hats off to Alice Munro, Atwood's countrywoman and another cracking storyteller. Whoever said subsidising a nation's creative writing wouldn't produce work of merit was wrong, very wrong.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Prole Poetry Competition

I have the honour of judging this year's Prole poetry competition. If you have a winning poem, please enter. Details here.

Berlin in two hours

Got a couple of hours in Berlin?

  Here's my crash course in seeing as much as possible in that time. No going into things, it's all about looking at buildings and walking quickly. Sturdy footwear recommended.

Start outside the Pergamon Museum. Enjoy the sculpture in the gardens and Alte National Gallery. Walk to the National Gallery. Sculpture outside there ditto.

Turn around and take a good long look at the Berliner Dom and the Telefunken in the distance.

Cross the Spee and walk down Under den Linden (speed up passed the boring bits) to the Humbolt University. Check out statues, sculpture and books in its forecourt.

Cross the road and stand outside the other part of the University in the square where the Nazi's burnt the books in May 1933. Find the perspex covered underground memorial of empty bookshelves for the same. Contemplate history for a bit.

Walk the rest of Under den Linden as quickly as you can until you get to the Brandenburg Gate. Avoid street artists dressed variously as Russian soldiers, German ditto, bears and statues etc.

Pass through the Gate to the Reichtstag. Note new dome to visit another time. Turn back passed the Brandenburg Gate and first left to the Holocaust Memorial. Wander in the rows of various sized concrete boxes. Try to avoid screaming children mistaking the hummocky ground for an amusement park. Contemplate history a bit more. Check view of the Memorial towards the Reichstag.

Cross the road and find the bunker-like memorial to the gay victims of the Holocaust. Contemplate history some more. And that's it. Two hours well spent in the company of beautiful architecture old and new. Enjoy.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Writing Workshop - October

Plenty, Plenty, Plenty, the harvest in all its forms is the theme for my next writing workshop.
Come and see how much new work and ideas for poems, flash fiction and short prose pieces you can make on working the land and bringing the countryside into town. 
Gather sheaves of paper and other writing equipment and join the fun in the library at Shakespeare & Company on Sunday 6 October at 12h30. Details here. 
Suggested donation 10 euros to much needed Paris Lit Up funds.

Poetry News - Poetry Reading

I will be reading in Paris this coming Tuesday evening  24 September at Ivy Writers - La Rentree and Apero from 17h.

Come and listen in the former bordello that is the Dellaville Cafe. Details here.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Street Art, Havana, Cuba

Havana is not Paris when it comes to street art. Almost anytime I can walk a circular route from my home in the 3eme and find superlative examples from some of the best artists working in the French capital today. Driving from the airport to Havana Vieja however, in a gold and tail-finned ’57 Chevy just by the by, I spotted nothing, nada.

There is a rash of officially approved propaganda posters, and wall paintings made by the local community with varying degrees of artistic skill, extolling the virtues of socialism and the revolution (study, work and take up arms), as one might expect, but nothing radical and independent. I had to look for it and look pretty hard. 

This is because, although I am told graffiti is not illegal in Cuba, the artist has to ask permission to make work, hence the community committee approved projects. After all, this is a country where the only advertising hoardings allowed are those expounding the necessity for continual revolution.

What I did find seemed to be imported; you don’t write ‘Hello Cuba’ if you are from here, right? Crews from Mexico, Brazil and Germany (Berlin and Hamburg) have been to Havana this year and last, helpfully signing and dating their work, which is restricted mainly to the hoardings around building works, with very little on walls and shop front shutters, let alone high up on buildings, although I did find one example of this. 

The work I found was amongst others by King Size and the One Up Crew, the UM24 Crew, Ed Rocha, PRC, GHS, RFZ and 403N15.  

Almost all of it is graffiti, meaning done freehand with spray paint. I only found two stencils very close together. There is very little tagging and no paste-ups that I observed. Stylistically it’s all in the hip-hop vein of things with some boldly ‘Ignorant’ lettering (or what I take to be such and wait to be corrected). 

Notable pieces are the Indian head on the corner of Brasil and Montserrate;  

and the hoardings across the street from it; the hoardings at the corner of Industria and Dragones; and something very political out of town near the University.  

On the side of a building at the corner of Universidad and Ave de los Presidentes is an Occupy related work noting all foundation dates of the world’s largest multi-nationals with a frightening figure eating the world, its body pinned down by ropes leading into a black sea labelled 99%.

Watch out for further photographic posts on more of the best bits.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Hidden Gardens in the Marais

Not exactly a secret, as they are maintained by the Marie, but very close together at 35 rue Francs Bourgeois and 21 rue des Blancs Manteaux in the 3eme are two lovely little gardens, hidden from the street behind buildings. You can easily miss them, but they are certainly worth seeking out if you are in search of a quite spot to contemplate, write or picnic in. The latter is only open on the weekend though and don't let the gate put you off, it is unlocked. Perhaps not best on a rainy day, but I did have them to myself this afternoon.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Guns and preparedness, or how Cubans really live V

All Cuban men have to undertake two years (it used to be three) of National Service in the armed forces. For women, it’s voluntary for a year, but if you do it and otherwise qualify for University, you will pass straight to college. If not, or if you are a man, then going to University is a matter of the number of doctors, teachers, etc. that the government decides it needs to train every year.

Cuban children are encouraged to learn how to fire a rifle too. There are lots of cool looking gun shops to make this seem an attractive past-time. 

When I asked why, the answer was a very clear one – we have to be ready to fight a war against America at a moment’s notice. Fifty two years after the Bay of Pigs, you have to wonder. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Checking, checking, checking, or how Cubans really live IV

Crimes against the government, which is how most law breaking is described, are constantly being checked for; things like transporting large quantities of food, as the assumption is it is to be sold. Cubans can’t move between provinces without their buses or cars being halted at checkpoints on the highway by the police.

Imagine being subjected to that level of stop and search at home. Tourist cars on the other hand sail blightly by.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Who do you work for? Or how Cubans really live III

The answer is the government, not as you might imagine, the community.

No-one I met described the work that they do as for the benefit of everyone. The notion of the commons seems to be absent from the vocabulary in Cuba. There is simply the separately thought of entity that runs and controls everything from the price of tobacco to how much sugar cane to grow to pay China. This applies whether you are a farmer working with a co-operative selling ninety per cent of your produce to the government, or a travel guide employed by the state tourist company.

Unless you are one of the recent breed of small entrepreneurs (see part II below), you work for the man. Not so very different from home then, except the matter of degree and the fact that he’s called Raul.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Writing Workshop News - 1 September

The first Paris Lit Up Writing Workshop of the new year will be on 1 September at 12h30 in the library at Shakespeare and Company. Come and join me for a two hour session creating new ideas and work for poems, flash fiction and short prose pieces.

The theme is Taking Another Word for a Walk, Challenge yourself to see just how much you can do with one little word. I dare you!

Donation 10 euros to Paris Lit Up's much needed funds. See you there then.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Why can’t I buy that? or how Cubans really live II

Firstly you need some convertible pesos (see part I below). Then you need to be allowed to buy whatever it is, then you need to find it.

If you browse the ordinary shops where Cubans make their purchases, there is not a great quantity of items on offer, or very much choice. I needed a toothbrush, being a numpty I forgot to pack one, and so the very first place I had to seek out was a pharmacy. Of course, as a visitor with the right kind of money in my pocket, this was an easy task.

The nearest pharmacy was an enormous old fashioned emporium with beautiful drug jars ranged on its dark wooden shelves, gleaming under crystal chandeliers; a museum in action, even if it had very little stock.  My communist toothbrush, as I have been calling it ever since, having the abrasiveness of a Brillo pad, has proved surprisingly effective. Three weeks’ later and I have been complimented on my whiter teeth. It seems decades of tea, coffee and red wine stains have been expunged by my new red friend. Viva la revolucion!

If only things were as simple for Cubans, where it has been just two or three years (the time varies depending on who you talk to) since it has been permissible to buy a car or buy and sell a house; and just four years to run one’s own business. Every small entrepreneur, running a restaurant (paladar) or renting a room, who we talked to thought this was the best thing since sliced bread. I remember having similar conversations with friends in Prague very soon after the Velvet Revolution.

Things have got to change, they say. After all you can’t tell a young person, who has some knowledge of the world via the, however limited, internet, why they can’t buy/have/do something these days. If you do, they’ll try to high tail it out of town sooner than you can say struggle. And that’s what I am told most people would do given the opportunity. Looks like the continual revolution is in its death throes. Raul Castro stands down as president in eight years’ time, then it’s game over for the last socialist experiment is my betting.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Ration Books, or how Cubans really live I

There are two currencies in Cuba – national money, which is how Cubans are paid and with which they can buy just the very essentials, like basic food; and convertible pesos, which they need to buy everything else like decent food, telephone bills, cars and, frankly, anything worth having that makes life bearable. How do you get convertible pesos? You may well ask.

Everyone wants them and will do almost anything to get them from begging, to posing in costume for you to take your photograph with them, to playing music with varying degrees of skill for tips, dressing as living sculptures, selling all manner of consumables on the street and providing good service – that includes everyone from the chamber maid to the hotel manager; all are trying to earn a little extra. And what they do get, I am told they most likely spend on food. This is no surprise, if you poke your head into one of the local distribution centres.

All Cubans have a monthly ration book which enables them to buy staple foods at subsidised prices. These are rice, beans, sugar and coffee, and a few other things like oil and soap. They are sold in bulk, a whole month’s worth at a time, so you have to be strong to haul this lot home. The centres are Spartan in the extreme. Ask your parents or grandparents about war time rationing and you’ll have some idea of what this means.

Ask a Cuban and they’ll tell you things are good now compared to the Special Period between 1989 and 1994 when the disintegration of Soviet Union and the withdrawal of support to Cuba put the country on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Cubans ate a lot of rice and beans, started to suffer from malnutrition, and when the soap ran out, which it did, washed themselves with such appalling detergents that they developed horrible skin conditions. Not good.

No wonder the borders were opened in response for a second wave of emigration. Anyone with family in the US or elsewhere was whisked away by boat; those without risked life and limb on flimsy rafts to get away. Remember those news stories about Cubans drowning in the Gulf of Mexico?

It’s astonishing then that in the twenty intervening years, and despite the organic huerta (community garden) movement, Cuba is still not self-sufficient in food. There is plenty of fertile land to be cultivated and a year round growing climate. Yet, even having natural resources like oil and gas, there is not enough diesel for farmers to plough the land. This doesn’t make much sense and leaves Cuba still at the mercy of its trading partners. Thus, sadly, the wheel turns. 

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Mojito Awards, Cuba

I’ve spent the last three weeks in Cuba. 

Amongst other things, I drank rather a lot of rum, more rum in fact than I have perhaps drunk in the last thirty years. I have now acquired something of a taste for el ron. Perhaps reacquired is more accurate, as I seem to recall our poison of choice was rum and coke when I was a teenager, or Cuba Libre, made with the ubiquitous Havana Club, as it is more romantically called these days. Just to clarify, Bacardi now comes from the Dominican Republic, as one glance at its glass-shattered, yet still beautiful, Art Deco former office building in central Havana will attest.

But enough history, on with the awards: the good, bad and ugly of Cuban Mojito making based on my extensive research.

Starting with the worst Mojito in Cuba – unequivocally this honour goes to La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana Vieja for the singular lack of attention to details like sugar. Without doubt this was the sourest and most small-measured meanie of cocktail in Cuba. The bar is Hemingway’s former watering hole and is a hideous tourist trap (so is El Floridita where he drank Daiquiris – you have been warned) and one can only assume that as a result they simply don’t give a damn. That’ll be something like six of your convertible pesos por favor (about five euros – happy hour price in Paris) and here’s some shit we mixed earlier.

Luckily it’s all uphill from here. The best Mojito in Cuba prize goes to Shakey Shakey Wakey Wakey in Trinidad for the perfect and caringly made mixture of sugar, lemon, expertly bashed mint, ice, rum, fizzy water and Angostura bitters, served by the nicest man in Cuba. We loved him and his super paladar (privately run restaurant to you). Go there. Drink lots. It’s cheap too (two pesos fifty – about two euros).

But wait, there’s more – the strongest Mojito in Cuba is made on the idyllic white sand beaches of Cayo Leviso, where at three pesos a pop you are pretty much guaranteed at least a double that is so strong you have to top up the water ‘because you are on your holidays.’  Marvellous. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Graffiti Project - Latest

It's been a while since I posted any street art pictures on here for the simple reason that there is just too much of it around in Paris. I'd be at it all day and I have a real job and a ton of writing to do. a idle moment in Reading yesterday, I spotted this in an alley off Station Road. It's rather good.

On Going Kaos.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Paris Lit Up - End of Year One

Well it's been an absolute roller coaster of our first Paris Lit Up year, in which I have learned so much. More things than I could possibly have imagined about working with a group of disparate and marvellous people, taking photographs of poets who don't stand still, writing reviews of wonderful literary events, co-editing a fabulous magazine, running and preparing writing workshops, co-organizing and co-hosting a popular and exciting weekly Open Mic and so on.

At times it's been almost like a full time job, or has at least taken up every spare thinking moment. There is always something to do and I have had to make myself stop, reflect and find time to enjoy everything and everyone we have been working with.

I am really looking forward to all the great things we have planned for year two. More of those anon. Watch this space or rather the various PLU spaces (see below). But there's a magazine to launch, more workshops to plan and whole host of lovely Open Mic guests for your entertainment. The autumn is going to be packed. No sitting about thinking about writing. Speaking of which, it's a miracle that I have managed to get any of that done at all, but I have!

Visit the website, friend us on facebook, follow us on twitter. Open Mic is running right through the summer.  Enjoy! and THANK YOU to everyone who has come to an event, helped in anyway, or otherwise encouraged us to keep on lighting up the city.