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‘This week, to cut through the numbing grind of darkness, autumn, sickness, solitude, we bring some life to the table - living things and things for living. We lay out fruits, a posy, figurines of tiny, busy people, our tin of herbs. Camomile brings the peace. ginger is okay. the roses - he likes this pot of dried blooms, no, this one. we are shown how to make tea: a curl of cinnamon, a star of anise. He grinds fenugreek seeds between his back teeth. slipped from inside its packaging and held between fingertips, the smell of saffron fills the room, so warm and powerful that it feels as if it should be visible, a shimmering orange path to my nostrils from across the table. These little pots of dried and dormant things that signify a life somewhere else. * We are talking about the poem - it is about walking the streets of London. I point to Whitechapel in the book, then on the map, east of here. he is polishing his English, reading each word like he is building a wall with tiny bricks. Each letter comes separately, he lines them up, adjusts, stacks another word on top, rebuilding the verse on the page in the air, in his voice. I try to explain the tricky words, demonstrate ‘furl’ and ‘unfurl’ with my hands. he shakes his head, smiling - this poem is a silly thing. * The clay comes to life under his hands: animated by the spinning of the wheel and shaped by the soft flesh of cupping palms, digging thumbs, the sides of the fingers that guide the clay through its lives: squat, fat, thick, wide, tall, thin, flared, rumpled. it looks like an act of care, bringing a pot into the world. He makes three, each a refinement of his technique, of the pressure and shape of his hands. * They are improvising words to a tune nobody knows yet - the singing and piano and percussion are circling each other and getting closer, finding their places. It is not yet a song but they are making it into one. They construct an accompaniment around the lone voice of the singer, sweetening their chords as his voice winds a path through the air.’

Words by Josie Carter

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