Thursday, November 27, 2008

I rewrote the Baby P poem, less detailed than my original version. Found I couldn't start any other poems until I got this one out of my system.

First draft

Child

The field has drowned and turned

(post removed)

Friday, November 21, 2008

For fun, my very first Fib!

A 6 line, 20 syllable poem. The number of syllables in each line follow the Fibonacchi sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8). Check them out here.

Black
band,
beached weed;
memory
of high tide highlights
the otherwise white pebble shore.


Good fun to write, I could see this becoming quite addictive.
Go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've been tagged to provide seven unusual facts about myself. I can't promise they'll be unusual or even interesting so you can blame Dave for this post!



1) I play the guitar, admittedly not much over the last couple of years but I will drag it out of its case one of these days.

2) I have a nearly-two-year-old son called Sorley. Actually his name on the birth certificate is Somerled after the great Norse/Celtic warrior, but Sorley is the pet name for Somerled so we call him Sorley. It means my husband got his warrior name and I got my poet name (I just wasn't going to agree to Spartacus or Conan!).

3) I once met Edwin Morgan and could think of nothing to say to him. I had won a poetry competition of which he was the judge, it was announced during a show at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance. I was so stunned when they read out my name that I just sat in my seat wondering what I was supposed to do. Eventually I found my way onto the stage, shook Morgan's hand and just kind of looked at him. I'd barely even read any of his poetry at that time. Now that I'm a big fan of his work I feel a bit of an idiot when I think back.

4) I have a masters in philosophy. I loved spending a year around mad-cap philosophers but it's no use for getting a job!

5) Before I went to uni I spent two years working in a smoked salmon factory in the middle of nowhere (at the head of a loch, surrounded by hills). From quarter-to-eight to quarter-to-five standing in a chilled room slicing and bagging smoked salmon, with two half hour breaks spent in a porta-cabin. At one point I thought I'd never get out of that place, it was full of witchy fish-wives. There was a lot of camaraderie as well though - planting fish-heads in peoples lockers and wellies etc oh and plenty of food fights!!


6) I met my husband when I was 15, we secretly got engaged on my 16th birthday and married a week after my 18th, this December will be our 13th wedding anniversary.

7) I believed that seahorses were fictional animals until I was sixteen. It was amazing to find out they really exist, they still seem to me like something out of a fairytale!




I'm supposed to tag seven more people but instead I'm going to leave it open for everyone or anyone who wants to take up the challenge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I spent the best of last night working on a poem about Baby P - the gorgeous wee toddler who was horrifically abused and murdered by his mum, boyfriend and the boyfriend's friend.
What a nightmare, it gave me nightmares most of last night.
I completed a first draft of the poem which I was happy with but in the end I couldn't post it and have completely wiped the poem. I couldn't bare to read it. I'm never again going to write a poem about something so horrific.

I never realised how fully involved I am in my poems, I know that sounds like a daft thing to say. I think part of it is my love of sound repetition in poems, be it rhyming, internal rhyming, assonance, alliteration etc. This means I find it relatively easy to memorise a number of or chunks of my own poems - the sounds get stuck in my head and, like an annoying song, parts of my latest poem can clog up my brain for days. I couldn't deal with having that poem on my mind for days, spent hours in bed last night trying to block it out so I could fall asleep. So the poem got deleted. I think its the only poem I've ever deleted, still have all my early poems which I can't bare to look at because they're so badly written but I wouldn't ever get rid of them (just keep them well hidden!!).

Talking about sound repetition in poems, here's one of my very favorite classic poems by T.S. Eliot:

Virginia

Red river, red river,
Slow flow heat is silence
No will is still as a river
Still. Will heat move
Only through the mocking-bird
Heard once? Still hills
Wait. Gates wait. Purple trees,
White trees, wait, wait,
Delay, decay. Living, living,
Never moving. Ever moving
Iron thoughts came with me
And go with me:
Red river, river, river.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The St. Andrews University run poetry magazine, The Red Wheelbarrow, have accepted my poem 'Becoming Spring' for publication!!
This is my longest outstanding poetry submission (seven months) so it's a relief to get a reply at all but wonderful to have a poem accepted!
It's a great wee magazine, produced biannually, each issue is thick with poems by a good mix of well known and unknown names plus interviews, reviews and poetry-related essays so you really feel you're getting your money's worth out of it.
Off to celebrate by taking the dog and pram for a walk in the rain along the promenade to a nice wee coffeeshop where I shall pick up a large takeaway coffee mocha!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanks to Dave for the four lovely blog awards he has kindly bestowed upon me. I hereby likewise nominate three further blogs with which you may do with as you like: ignore this, take one or two awards, or take them all!
If you do take them then the only request is that you pass them on to further blogs that you read and enjoy regularly. I read and enjoy many blogs regularly so I'm limiting myself to three blogs which I've been following and enjoying for quite some time now.

Eine Klage-Welt
The Swiss Lounge
the Floating Bridge of Dreams

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Draft

The Cockle Picker’s Wife

A woman hangs her blacks

(post removed)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I never studied English Literature beyond first year at uni, the reason being I was unwilling to drop either of my other two subjects: Classical Civilisations, which I loved, and politics.

At that time I was madly into party politics. I was the chairperson of my local branch of the Scottish Socialist Party and spent most weekends demonstating or raising support for the various causes the Party stood for. Of course, this was all long before the infamous Tommy Sheridan scandal which well and truly binned the Party. Those were the heady days of comradeship, purpose and a sense of power.

So tonight's the big night for the Americans. I haven't particularly been following the election campaign, it's so long and drawn out. But now that we're on the eve of the probable election of Barack Obama to presidency there's a definite vibe in the air. The excitment and anticipation in the coverage of the results over here is reminicent of the night before Blair was elected after 18 years of Tory rule. Though I've long since lost my passion and belief in party politics the political animal asleep inside of me is definitely stirring tonight.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The programme of Scotland's main poetry festival StAnza is now available on-line here. Check it out, looks like a good line-up of readings and workshops including readings by Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage and a masterclass by Douglas Dunn and, believe me, St. Andrews is a perfect setting for a poetry festival. The festival's not until the middle of March so plenty time to think about going!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tonight I finally got around to finishing Les Miserables. I feel like I've lived a dozen lives through the reading of its 1000+ pages. At the heart of the book is probably the most beautifully written love story I have ever read - at times extremely sentimental and well over the top but always very beautiful.

Anyone who's interested in landscape in art and literature should check out this goldmine of a blog I recently came across - Some Landscapes - be warned, you may be lost in the archives for some time!

Some brief thoughts on Andraste's Hair -

A while back I picked up a copy of Eleanor Rees' first full-length poetry collection Andraste's Hair.

The blurb on the sleeve says -

"The poems in Andraste's Hair draw on myth, memory, folksong, and murder ballad. Often set in a mythical Liverpool, a city of metamorphosis and magic, grotesque and beautiful".

To me, these poems are irresistable. The landscapes of the poems become, largely, the vehicle for the emotion of the poems (something I try to do in my own writing). In most of these poems the emotion is a kind of terror to greater and lesser degrees.
The first poem in the book, Night Vision, exhibits some factors consistently found in the majority, if not all, of the poems in the book.

There is a focus on landscape -

"An open moon; burr of grass.
Last reaches of the spilt day
ending, the last
quiet pitch heard
in deep woods. Wet sod of dirt"

The language here is fairly traditional for a nature poem but further into the poem it begins to break down into something rather more sinister and nightmarish in its imagery and language -

"A cold touch in a bleeding house.
An open door. Sores.

And I dream you are the rising sun:

where are your bones, baby? Where are your bones?"

There is a sense of invocation in the reading of the poem; attention is paid to assonance, alliteration, repetition and internal rhyming.

These are extremely visual poems jumping, within the same poem (Roadworks), between the nightmarishly hallucinatory:

"the street opens up to tumble
me into an underground
of corpses and snowdrift
and horses with gold faces"

and the rather beautiful image of -

"My city is wearing costume jewellery tonight -
glittering and unreal."

The book's title poem can be read here on Rees' website.

My only criticisms would be:
(1) A large number of the poems are written sprawling down the page as opposed to in stanzas which means I can barely stop myself from racing through the reading of the book.
(2) The sinister element, particularly of the landscape, is present in the majority of the poems which do make them start to feel a bit samey on a superficial level.

These criticisms are nothing compared to my enjoyment of the poems. I think I would like to see a larger collection of her poems where the ones in this book are interspersed with poems of a wider variety of themes.