Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I've been a rubbish blogger lately...but I think I needed a wee break from it.
Life has pretty much normalized again: the children, the pup and myself  have fallen back into a routine after a summer of chaos. I've not been writing much but I have been reading, reading, reading prose, poetry, history, poetry.
Trying to work out where to take my poetry next. I want to deepen it, encompass more with it, when I read Phillis Levin's gorgeous May Day collection I feel my own poems have too much description and zero philosophy or ideas whereas Levin's are packed with beautiful detail and description but also full of ideas and musings. I'd like to develop a more defined 'voice' (the dreaded 'voice'!!!) in my poems, I love the casual tone of Anne Sexton's poems in All My Pretty Ones yet they still manage to be weighty poems. I think I really need to loosen up in my own writing.
I survived the Callender reading, in fact I really enjoyed it. The more readings I do the more I really, really enjoy them, amazing considering I'm such an introvert! I managed to get there for the morning and afternoon sessions, it's great just getting to a poetry event but I really enjoyed the variety of the readings which included a series of poems accompanied by a man playing songs on a ukulele in-between each poem! Of course I bought more books, it amazes me the quantity of quality poetry out there.


Kraxpelax said...

Windor Mirrow


Jim Murdoch said...

At least you have a voice. Your poems have a youness about them. I think that’s a major achievement. Granted they’re heavy on atmosphere to the exclusion of deep thought but, as you say, that can be worked on. I was watching a documentary yesterday with a few actors reading from a director’s memoirs and letters and I realised that I would have been happy listening to most of them reading pretty much anything but give them something meaningful to read and then suddenly the thing moves to a completely different level. I’m not sure what to advise. I’ve always allowed my poetry to roam free and not tried to control it. It’s never wanted to roam far but every now and then it surprises me, comes back with something juicy, drops it at my feet and looks pleased with itself.

There have been a number of books and films that have influenced me over the years. One you might be surprised to find in there is The Glenn Miller Story. I know it’s been Hollywood-ised to hell but the idea of a man with a sound in his head that he couldn’t replicate always got to me and when I wrote ‘Stray’ 34 years ago it suddenly dawned on me that this was what a poem should look and sound like but I’d written 452 poems by then none of them quite right. The thing about nature is that you don’t always know what’s natural until it’s sitting in front of you. I’m thinking here of musicians: if Yehudi Menuhin’s parents had only had an old piano for him to batter away on might be know him today as one of the world’s greatest pianists? I never managed to learn to play the guitar growing up. I tried but I was already a keyboard player when I did and when I thought about chords I thought in black and white; the six strings confused me.

In poetic terms all I can suggest it that you pick up the poetic equivalent of the piano, the violin, the guitar, the euphonium, the beer bottle organ, whatever, and see if it feels like your thing.

Rachel Fox said...

The voice will come - I don't think it can be forced - and anyway I think it is more there already than you realise. People wouldn't be asking to publish your stuff or asking you to read if there was no voice in there (you are the mystery woman of the west, remember!). You do major in description a bit... but we all have our stronger areas...and remember that poem you wrote about the family who died (that was phenomenal and strong)...maybe your life is just too happy and lovely to provoke big poems like that so maybe you need to look further afield when you write more. I don't really know you of course...it's just a thought.

Some of us have too much voice...That can be a problem too...


Rachel Fox said...

And in fact currently I would say having an (as you dreaded) voice is fairly unfashionable. Some of the more successful poets just now are certainly not big on voice I wouldn't say (though of course everyone's definition of what a voice is will be different anyway...).


Marion McCready said...

hi jim! "heavy on atmosphere to the exclusion of deep thought" - that's it in a nutshell. today I'm wondering if I'm trying to something that doesn't come naturally and therefore I won't ever be able to make real poems from. you write what you're 'given', don't you? I guess that's what you mean by trying things on and see what fits, see what comes naturally.

hi rachel! I've noticed the recent antipathy towards 'finding one's voice'! I guess it's a kickback to its over-use as an all-round term of criticism or use as some kind of vague rite of passage for desiring poets. ahh yes, the mysterious woman from the west lol :) you're right, in most parts of my life I am perhaps too happy and content!! and the things that trouble me I can't seem to write about...so looking further afield may be the key :)

Titus said...

Really interesting post, and like Rachel I don't find you lacking in voice - I recognise your work, and it is distinct and distinguished. Maybe not shout-y, but is that an issue? I love the mysterious woman from the west description.
We are at opposite ends of the compass, as I nearly always know what the message of a poem is going to be, and have to work hard to turn it into description. I am all tell, no show.
We're all learning, we all develop - and alongside each other, which I am really enjoying.
And now you've identified what it is you want to do, I'm sure it will come.

Marion McCready said...

thanks titus, I'm amazed at how consistantly well you write for the poetry bus!! and as for 'no show' that's really not been the case in the recent poems I've read on your blog! that's what I really like about blogging, the sense of community, and as you said, developing together.

Jack said...

Sorry but I don't think there is always a need to 'deepen' - images can work and also surprise.

Or put it another way - I wouldn't want to think you HAD to deepen them to make them solid pieces of work.

I heard Kathleen Jamie read at Dumfries once and she read a poem which she described as 'about nothing really..as poems don't have to be about anything at all.' Found that liberating. Infact the poems that I really enjoy and stay in my top ten all time faves are Vicki Feaver's 'Rope' and Paul Durcan's 'Ireland 1972' - both lifted my lid and showed what poems can do.

Your poems are doing very well as they are. Hope they continue to.

(aka A P Pullan)

Marion McCready said...

hi jack! yes, the more I've been thinking about this the more I tend to agree. unless, like Morgan, you've been blessed with such a wide range of voice, it's better to stick to what's authentic to your own writing. and I'm definitely all for the images speaking for themselves. so I'm trying to stop myself thinking I should be doing what others are doing (in what I write and how I work) and just plough on in my own way. authenticity is the key, innit?