Tuesday, 22 September 2009

I Know What I'm (t)Here For

Well now. There are ten days left before I'm on the plinth. It's about time I decided what I'm doing.

And I have.

I'm doing this to raise money for International PEN. They defend peoples' right to freedom of expression. It follows, then, that that should be the theme of my performance. And it will be.

In countries like Cuba and Mexico, people are kept quiet by fear of imprisonment or disappearance. We're cleverer, here. In the UK, in the US, in the quote-unquote 'civilised' world, we keep quiet because we don't want to look weird. We don't want to offend the 'Values Voters', and their UK avatars. We want to keep our jobs.

The punishment we face is less extreme: the end result is still the same. We keep schtum, afraid of punishment. But we don't have to.

As part of my time on the plinth, I want to write a sonnet. 14 lines. Doesn't have to be Petrarchan, or Spenserian. Doesn't even have to rhyme. But I want each line to be a genuine expression from someone - maybe in the crowd, maybe on the net, wherever. And I want each line to be something you're afraid to say. Something you'd like to say, but which you keep quiet for fear of the consequences. Those consequences might be ostracision, or prison, or a beating, or being called names on the schoolyard, or unemployment, or just an indefinable fear that folk will think less of you - but as part of my hour on the plinth, I want you to shout what you're afraid to say, and I will shout it with you. Call out, or tweet, your line, and I will read it for you.

If you want anonymity, then fine. Before I go down to London, I'll set up a collective twitter ID, give out the password, and if you really don't want to admit to what you fear to express, then you can tweet using that. A caveat though. Log out when you're finished, and let others have a go.

However you do it - whether you want to shout at me in public or send me a message over the ether - I hope you take part. For an hour, in a way I never imagined, I get the chance to express myself - to put my psyche on the line and let the world know who I am. And, for good or ill, I want to bring you with me.

October 2nd. 0400-0500 AM. 'I'm afraid to say it, but...' let's do this thing.


  1. Doubt this is quite the correct forum for this, however just heard about your appearance on the plinth, all the best and enjoy it. John Francis.

  2. Thanks, John! As to correctness of fora, hey, it's all communication...