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Hiya. You might know some critical folk who refer to over-the-top poetics as 'purple' writing. I am colour-blind and have never seen purple.

PURPLE by Dominic Berry

Purple is there
making butterfly hands in an eye's corner,
in top hat shadows when you should be sleeping.
Smells of joss sticks and cold lakes.

Purple might be naked,
off somewhere
with eye-liner swirls round large, flat nipples
and a moan like thunder self harming.
maybe strutting
in straps of chiffon and velvet stripes
down somebody else's street.

Lives in a handmade book
about eating disorders and lunar eclipse.
Did stop a boy from hanging himself.
Heard it's in diazepam and fairies.

Your imaginary friends might have liked Purple more than you.
Purple's nice to your Mum when you're not even there,
gets all scented oil and Stone Henge about it.
Didn't go to maths.
Blames dyspraxia and forests.

Purple is not 'no-trainers' clubs
or ironing.
Doesn't like meal deals
or long, ironic novels.

I think Purple was my first kiss.
at least its memory.
Tasted like pumpkin seed,
black coffee,
skin bitten off round the nail.

When toddlers see ghosts it is Purple.

It is the language of time travel,
what's inside the sun,
inside your finger
and lips
and the words that you chose
not to say.

◄ Ben Mellor's Voices of Descent

Hero ►


<Deleted User> (7904)

Wed 12th May 2010 19:59

Another vote here for that line about being 'like thunder self-harming', but the whole poem is great and, for someone who's never seen purple, you do a very good job of describing it. This reminds me of, I think, Appolinaire's poems about the different personalities of various letters.

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Dominic Berry

Mon 13th Apr 2009 17:42

shoeless and sally, thanks for the kind words. pete, what can i say, thanks so much for taking so much time over this one. i really appreciate your thoughts and praise, very kind of you to share. i didn't know about purple in hospitals so am very glad to discover a layer i didn't know was there!

yes, i am colour blind and so the whole poem is an imagining of purple, a colour i've honestly never seen! i hear what you say about that info not bein in the poem itself, but i kind of think thats OK, in a way the intro is aprt of the poem, in a way its not, i think its a nice way to cut a piece of thought up without using such blatant and unpoetic markers like 'part one' or 'prologue'. i hope the chit chatty start makes it easier to get into.

big thanks for the comments guys, d xx

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Wed 1st Apr 2009 18:47

i like this poem , with a moan like thunder self harming . that line is going to travel with me :)

Pete Crompton

Wed 1st Apr 2009 02:32

forgot to mention.............

"Did stop a boy from hanging himself."

this is clever.
certain colours were painted around stairwells of hospitals and (bizarre I know but go with me for a sec here..) Nuclear fallout shelters/government shelters, the idea being bright colours would deter people from hanging themselves.

I'm not sure if that was on your mind, it does however make an interesting sub plot within the poem, especially if you link it to automatic writing.

the dyspraxia reference is again clever (and for me) upsetting (in a no probs way) I suffered a little and was totally behind at maths by like a year!, so had tutoring at home, and again I dont know wether you intended this or not Dom but ........wait for it.............I was stuck on the purple maths cards! they had different colours for different levels of mathematics , closing my eyes i can see green, orange and the dreaded purple plastic boxes of the maths cards.

as I already said there are several related threads intertwined, not obvious unless you look for them, impressive, and enjoyable poem.

Pete Crompton

Wed 1st Apr 2009 02:20

"gets all scented oil and Stone Henge about it"

I like this idea, it made me think that something simple can be made complex or overblown, I like the way it kinda nods to the new age, with the scented sticks, it reminds me of the mid 90s when it all went sun moon and stars OTT, but then the other surreal verses leave me wondering and I like that, i keep reading them back, the poem forced me to think and I wanted to get into the space you were in when you wrote it,to understand your purple, to ask why, what, when and where, the surreal imagery is imaginative and complex. Anxiety i find implied in the bitten skin (round the nail) I found as the darker side, along with the choice of black coffee/ghosts the comparison with purple veins/blood (as inside the finger and lips) I found that exciting, theres plenty in the poem to think about and I'm forced to keep re reading trying to strip down, looking for the thread

'strutting / straps' I liked the alliteration on this little couplet too.

I think the poem is a journey into the psyche of the author and I feel there are strong elements of automatic writing, this I always find enjoyable in a poem.

Its message is not clear cut on first reading, possibly alienating a casual reader, this to me makes no matter as there is so much going on the depth and skill carries it.

You mentioned that you are colour blind, if true maybe this could be hinted in the poem (as you may not always have the intro, assuming of course you are not being ironic!) I think that is what it revolves on, or that is the hook, your imagined colour, I almost felt the poem being called 'My imagined purple' or something of that idea.Is purple just too simple a title I wondered, maybe does not do the justice to the poem.

anything that forces you to think makes the brain work, especially with the wonderful snippetts of imagery in here.

Having seen you perform I was always perplexed as why you had not posted any poems, time , opportunity the right moment perhaps?

'the language of time travel ' here we have connections with stone henge and a reference back to what I called 'sun moon stars' AKA that new age craze, early to mid 90s (rave/goa trance era) whilst you may not have intentended, I detect a thread and a theme intertwined with others, like fibres, I recall your earlier poems (in your more gothic era) and this echoes those, darkness is always exciting as you cant wait for the light to arrive, your already there sometimes ('shadow of the top hat') some people hide from the sun under the rims shadow, so again we are in the psyche here, the more I read this the more things connect and I build (or see) what I want to see, the poem is vague enough in its complexity to allow this to happen, I dont feel it preaching or steering me and I like that. I feel the poem is allowing me to be me, yet reaching for the answers in the author. Its not often I find this, I'm quite happy actually reading this, its made me think and explore. I feel like I have been on a little journey, I notice that it is rounded off and completed with 'the words you choose not to say' this offers almost the answer and of course ties in with your introduction of 'purple writing' so ends it very neatly (though im no fan of neat endings!) if I held up the word purple would it mean the same as if I held a purple card, asked you to write all that unfolds?
thanks for sharing the colour purple!

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