Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm off to Bremen (North Germany) for a wee holiday next week with my husband, son and six French poets! My holiday reading arrived today from Amazon - Six French Poets of the Nighteenth-Century and the Collected Poems of Stephane Mallarme. Okay so maybe it would make more sense to read the Germans but I hope to pick up a couple of bi-lingual poetry books while I'm out there! Good rest, good food, good beer - hope to come back with good material for poems.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First draft of a bit of an experimental piece!

Voices from the Land

Hawthorns form a palisade,

(post removed)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I recently ordered another Happenstance publication this time by the Scottish poet Andrew Philip. His chapbook Tonguefire is actually sold out on the website but Happenstance have brought out a sampler pamphlet of his poems which I ordered from the poet himself. The pamphlet contains nine pages worth of poems, five of which are devoted to his long poem, and title of his chapbook, Tonguefire.

Tonguefire is a rather strange and image-rich poem with a prophetic, almost visionary, feel to it. The poem takes us into the world of a guy named MacAdam, which I guess is a kind of universal man i.e son of Adam. He’s the kind of man who ‘buys firelighters and matches / cheap beer and lifestyle magazines’, who ‘…sits alone / in the dark with a single malt’ but who mysteriously finds in his compost heap ‘a baby made of glass’ and on his door step ‘a small, delicate book of songs / bound in white heather’, ‘MacAdam swallows the book of songs’. I enjoy the interchange of the odd scots word which appears throughout, for example where MacAdam holds the ‘bairn / in his guddle of arms’. I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the poem, I’m guessing it has several meanings. The achievement here, for me, is the successful bringing together of the very ordinary with something very extraordinary, other-worldly.

The rest of the pamphlet consists of six further poems, heart-breakingly, about the loss of the poet's first-born son which, in all honesty, I find hard to read because of their subject-matter. In saying that, I’m very impressed with the level of control with which they are written and which makes them the powerful and hard-hitting poems that they are - ‘this is the hand that cradled your cold feet’ (Lullaby), ‘one was gone from us / and one had not yet come to us’ (Dream Family Holiday).
These poems are unlike most of the poems I read these days, there is something very different and at times uncomfortable about them which certainly makes them stand out and difficult to forget. All-in-all these are beautifully written, down-to-earth yet evocative of something supernatural.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I've been mulling over Ruth Pitter's 800 line poem Persephone in Hades recently.
Despite having studied Classics at uni I don't feel that Greek and Roman myths and legends are part of my personal cultural heritage (I preferred the history, architecture and philosophy side), maybe it's because I never got to study it at school where we did the Vikings instead and I feel more of an affinity with Viking mythology.

Anyway, I'm not particularly predisposed to modern poems about Greek mythology but something grabbed me in the section of Pitter's poem available on the Happenstance website where I purchased it.

This poem was first published for private circulation in 1931 (only 100 copies printed) and until now, has never been reprinted. It is prefaced by Helena Nelson ( editor of Happenstance) who doesn't shy from pointing out the archaic language employed by Pitter throughout the poem. Yet despite the subject-matter and, at times, archaic language, this is a beautiful and engaging piece of work.
This is no flowery retelling of an old myth but beautiful, dark and powerful writing.

Here's some of my favorite lines in the poem:

'What is love's counterpart? Answer, Love only'

'The chilly mist that drifted in from the sea / hung in her hair'

'The pale urns of the autumn crocuses / admired her feet'

'upon the sable air
a powdered silver hung, as when the moon
before she rises, sends a herald light
to gild the naked shoulder of the hill.'

'the trees / naked from winter, shining like golden wire'

'and the fire of love
confessed in spangles; then became a sea
carnation-crested, with a myriad waves
each moment in vermilion deeper dyed'

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Silly Poem

So I'm struggling to write anything at the moment and that's always a good time to take up a challenge!

This blog challenges anyone to write a poem or short story based on the following statement: 'She was just frying an egg, when she expired!'

This is it in context from the blog -

"Many years ago I overheard an elderly and very genteel lady say, ‘She was just frying an egg, when she expired!’ She uttered these words in an accent which Scottish readers will know as either Kelvinside or Morningside and vous autres, just think ‘elderly genteel posh’."

Here's my effort:

Heart Failure

her last breath
drawn above this shining hub

of marigold in a silver pan.
That she had cracked her last
was unknown to her

or the egg.
Yet the distance between
her heart and head,

in that moment,
was wider than all the eggs
in the known world.

And she had seen them all,
in this one yolk
forever flowering beneath her hand.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Gorbals Highrise explosion

Sorry nothing to do with poetry but there's something immensely therapeutic about watching these two Gorbals flats explode into dust!